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How to Build an Effective Cloud Foundation for Your Small to Mid-Sized Nonprofit

How to Build an Effective Microsoft Cloud Foundation for Your Small to Mid-Sized Nonprofit

Written by Stephen Jackson | TechSoup

As we’ve all heard over and over, the way that technology companies deliver their products is changing as the world moves its data and infrastructure to the cloud.

Nonprofit organizations vary as much in size as they do in mission, scope, and levels of funding. This diversity is what makes our sector so powerful, but it also means that the technology needs of nonprofits may differ from one organization to the next.

TechSoup has been and always will be committed to connecting our members to technology resources that may have otherwise been out of their reach.

To offer the best information and technical assistance to the nonprofit community and support the evolution to cloud-delivered technology, TechSoup has made the following available to nonprofits:

  • Consultative services to get information and advice on technology options
  • Online training to help nonprofits become as technologically equipped as they need to be

We are helping many nonprofits keep pace with the latest technology trends. And at the same time, we remain dedicated to organizations that don’t need an enterprise tech solution or that are still evaluating their options for moving to the cloud.

Many small operations are run well with appropriate productivity, security, storage, and backup solutions — and these can be a mix of cloud and on-premises solutions. If this sounds like you, keep reading to find out how donated products from TechSoup can help build a basic — yet effective — Microsoft cloud foundation for your nonprofit.

The Basics: Donated and Discounted Nonprofit Tech Essentials – Solutions Every Nonprofit Should Have At Its Disposal:


“Productivity software” refers to the tools with which many people are most familiar, such as Microsoft Office classics like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. We are excited to offer a variety of Microsoft 365 licenses to organizations interested in moving to a cloud-based subscription model for their productivity needs. And those who need more time to evaluate their cloud options can still get the basics with a donated, on-premises version of Office Standard or Office for Mac.

If you use PCs at your organization, you should definitely upgrade to the latest version of the Windows operating system. It is critical to keeping your systems and data secure and protected. However, you should be aware that in October 2020, Microsoft will be discontinuing “mainstream support” for on-premises, perpetual license versions of Windows.

The subscription version of Windows is available today at a nonprofit discount through TechSoup and bundled with Office 365 as part of the Microsoft 365 offer. And although your on-premises products won’t “stop working” when support ends, you will no longer receive crucial updates and security patches designed to keep them running safely and smoothly.

Another key component of any set of productivity tools is an email solution. If you are most comfortable with Microsoft products, TechSoup offers the Exchange Server Standard Edition as a donation (Exchange is the email server to which the Outlook application connects).

Accelarate Your Mission with CSP


As devices across the world have become increasingly connected to the Internet, cybersecurity threats continue to increase. It’s important that you take measures to secure your data from bad actors. Maybe you don’t work with highly sensitive data such as the identities of children, refugees, or survivors of domestic violence. However, your nonprofit is likely the steward of a great deal of employee information, personally identifiable information, and donor information, such bank and credit card data.

There are systemic ways to add layers of protection and security to your systems. Ensure that you have the correct permissions and settings activated on your Windows operating system (and that you are running the most updated version of your OS) and on your browser.

Microsoft also offers a cloud-based application to manage the security of the devices connected to your network called Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). EMS can be requested through TechSoup as a standalone product or as part of the Microsoft 365 bundle.

Document Storage

Even if you decide to use an on-premises productivity tool like Office Standard, you should still consider a cloud-based storage solution. The Microsoft cloud-based storage solution is SharePoint which is a document storage, management, and collaboration platform that has a variety of other capabilities as well.

Storing files in the cloud is actually more secure than storing them on your computer, an external hard drive, or an on-premises server. This is because cloud-based servers are constantly updated with patches for the latest security threats. It’s also because cloud-based servers are backed up with multiple redundancies in the event that a physical event were to damage one of the provider’s data storage facilities.

Cloud-based storage is also handy for collaboration because files can be accessed from anywhere, from any device, by anyone with the appropriate permissions. It also allows for multiple parties to make edits or comments on files and projects in a single, easy-to-access location.


The final component of an effective tech foundation is a backup solution. Paper files are becoming practically obsolete. And so, maintaining a contingency plan for your nonprofit’s digital files in the event of a disaster — anything from a cyberattack to a natural disaster — is extremely important.

If you use SharePoint of OneDrive, you’ve already taken a big step in terms of protecting your files. In general, it’s a good idea to save anything on your desktop or laptop on these cloud-based drives.

You may also want to look into a stronger backup solution such as Veritas System Recovery 18 or Veritas Backup Exec 20 (also available as donations). These powerful tools allow you to schedule backups and perform data recovery for individual files or entire systems if necessary.

Tech Support and Training from TechSoup Courses and Microsoft Digital Skills Center

TechSoup strives to be a comprehensive resource for civil society organizations across the planet. Beyond our marketplace for nonprofit technology, we also offer support and training services in partnership with the Microsoft Digital Skills Centre.

This first-class online training includes:

  • Excel for Nonprofits – Data Management and Reporting
  • Word for Nonprofits -Document Management
  • Powerpoint for Nonprofits – Creating Powerful Presentations
  • Teams for Nonprofits – Collaboration Tools
  • Power BI – Data Analysis for Nonprofits

A Lasting Commitment to Building an Equitable Planet

As a community, nonprofits work to address the most pressing issues on the planet today — no matter how big or how small. TechSoup has been and always will be committed to connecting our members to technology resources that may have otherwise been out of their reach.

We want to help nonprofits gain access to the cloud technology resources they need so that they can better realize their organization’s mission to make the world a better place. The first step in this direction is to ensure that all our members are equipped with all the necessary tools that can be acquired within their budgets.

Contact or support team below to discuss your digital transformation journey to the Microsoft Cloud

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