I was recently helping a local non-profit in the GTA setup their new office computers. I was happy to help out with the process, but I wasn't really sure why they were going through the trouble. It was a small organization, with an all volunteer staff that hardly ever came to head office. Staff had to make special trips to the office to do work and access their files, documents, etc. They would need someone spending time on a monthly basis to update all their machines, backup data, troubleshoot issues, etc.
Setting up their own infrastructure wasn't really the best solution, and I wanted to have a chat with the Board of Directors about moving to Office 365. I spent some time digging around internally to find any special programs for non-profit organizations. I came across this fantastic offer from Microsoft for charitable and non-profit organizations. http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/office365-for-nonprofits/ . With the Office 365 Nonprofit donation, qualified nonprofits can get Office 365 for free or at a significant discount. Perfect!
During my presentation to the Board, I spent time talking about them about the current challenges:
- Office computers were old, and somewhat unreliable.
- Staff and volunteers have to come to the office to perform work.
- This sometimes causes delays because it is hard getting people's schedules aligned.
- Lack of technical expertise to update computers, backup data, etc.
- Staff using personal email for work purposes, data being stored in multiple locations and service providers.
Moving to O365 would help them significantly in the following ways:
- Easy Collaboration across the entire organization.
- Simply IT operations, Volunteers can spend time focusing on core mission of the organization.
- Reduce costs by eliminating dedicated office IT infrastructure.
- Allow volunteers and staff to bring and use their own devices that they are comfortable with.
- Easy Access to dedicated email and storage accounts from any device at any time.
- Secure and Reliable data storage
I did a quick demo for them during the presentation and walked them through some core scenarios
- Creating a new user, provisioning a new email account and OneDrive storage.
- Logging in from multiple devices from smartphones to laptops.
- Document sharing between users, as well as with people outside the organization.
- Each user has 1TB of storage, as well as a team site on Sharepoint Online.
- Automatic document versioning on OneDrive and Sharepoint Online libraries.
- ...Plus all this great technology was completely free since they qualified for the offer.
In the end, it really was a no-brainer for them to embrace Office 365. Moving to Office 365 was going to allow them to focus on their core mission, rather than managing computers and IT infrastructure. It was also going to simplify the work experience for their volunteers. No longer would they have to coordinate schedules to meet at the office, instead, everyone could work access their files remotely at their own pace. The organization is looking forward to migrating to O365, and taking advantage of all the features it has to offer. This is really going to help improve their productivity, and ultimately help provide more services to the community they serve.
If you too are part of a non-profit organization, I would strongly suggest that you visit the link above, and test out the service to see how it can simplify your IT operations and enable your staff to be more productive.