Research uncovers the reality of cloud computing for nonprofits

10,500 NGOs Worldwide Respond to the TechSoup Global Cloud Computing Survey 

Editor’s Note: We work with TechSoup Global to deliver our nonprofit software donations program to tens of thousands of nonprofits around the world every year. In addition to donations we collaborate to ensure nonprofits have the tools necessary to effectively deploy that technology and grow their impact.  TechSoup Global’s Dan Webb  provides highlights from their newly published 2012 Global Cloud Computing Survey and a look at what’s next.

By Dan Webb, Director of Services and Solutions, TechSoup Global

TechSoup Global has announced the results of its 2012 Global Cloud Computing Survey of 10,500 nonprofits, charities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 88 countries.

At TechSoup Global, we’ve long worked with partners, like Microsoft, to bring available technology to nonprofit organizations. Together, TechSoup Global and Microsoft have enabled more than 180,000 nonprofits around the world to save more than US $3.2 billion in IT expenses. And we want to make certain organizations can effectively use the technology, not just to increase their own efficiency, but to better serve and transform their communities.

Cloud computing is the next frontier for NGOs. It changes what’s possible for organizations on the ground. To understand the opportunities and challenges in adopting cloud computing, we conducted a worldwide survey of NGOs. We fielded our survey in May of this year and reached organizations in 88 countries. As a global organization, we are very interested in the worldwide results, but we are also interested in understanding what cloud computing means country by country, region by region. To this end, we translated the survey into 21 languages and received statistically significant results (over 100 responses) in 26 countries. More than 10,500 organizations worldwide spent the time to help us figure out what cloud computing means to them. You can read the full report in English. The TechSoup Global Network has also translated the executive summary into local languages.

What we have learned in this survey is consistent with research studies released by organizations like NTEN.

We found out about the advantages of cloud computing from the NGO perspective:


We learned about the barriers:


And we learned about the motivators:


Taken together, we feel that the we — and by we I mean TechSoup Global, our worldwide network, and every capacity builder, funder, and technology expert who works in this field — can do more to make the cloud even easier. We need to fully understand the business processes of the organizations we serve. And we need to build solutions that meet the needs of organizations and, as much as possible, meet them where they are.

We need solutions that include an ability to ask a question of an expert or another NGO user. We need solutions, like those from AidMatrix, that are for specific types of organizations. We need solutions that address security concerns in a language organizations can recognize.

In short, we need solutions. And the cloud can enable us to offer those solutions broadly, to provide data back to organizations, and to determine benchmarks for services that can be used by funders and others. We just have to do it.

When we start doing this, we will be closer to achieving our goal: offering technology that feels effortless to the users and allows them to spend their time working on their communities’ most pressing issues.