The three Cs: charities, the cloud and collaboration

Cost-effective collaboration tools help charities deliver more for less

Cloud technology is the future for charities. A sweeping statement, perhaps. But one made by London-based social welfare law and tech charity Lasa, not an opportunity-grabbing IT firm.

Collaboration is also vital for the voluntary sector. Charities, after all, are made up of numerous people who need to collaborate together and have access to the same information. There are trustees, head office employees, branch employees, project workers, volunteers and other stakeholders, any of whom – at any given time – could be spread across different parts of the country or even different countries.

Yet they still need to be able to work together simply and effectively, whether they’re office, community or home bound (or on the move).

But that’s just one level of collaboration.

These days charities and other non-profit organisations are increasingly collaborating with each other and with public/private companies. Why? To save money, offer more services, access additional funding and reach more people in need (according to a report in the Guardian, half of all charities in the UK reported being affected by the recession, with many now considering or having considered pooling their resources with other organisations).

This type of collaboration is understandably effective for smaller to medium-sized charities. Indeed, according to the Foundation for Social Improvement, 64 percent of small charities work in partnership with other organisations.

Of course the key to a successful collaboration, according to the Charity Commission, is good communication. Good communication is vital for efficiency and effectiveness, and helps individuals to feel valued. And good communication is exactly what online collaboration tools like Glasscubes offer.

Global connectivity

If you look more closely at the aims of charities and non-profit organisations and how they work, it soon becomes obvious that communication technology like Glasscubes is the perfect voluntary sector fit.

In a nutshell, Glasscubes tools allow you to store and share documents securely. Employees, project workers and volunteers – as well as those from partner organisations – can work together effectively and discuss/brainstorm ideas effortlessly.

Staying connected is vital for those involved in working with charities, whether paid or on a voluntary basis. Forget time-consuming emails: by using cloud-based collaboration tools, everyone can keep in touch with the projects they’re involved in, instantly. Employees and volunteers can keep track of projects by using tools such as document sharing, calendars and task lists. And most importantly, they don’t have to be in the same office, town or country to feel part of what’s happening.

Financial rewards

The worst of the recent economic crisis may arguably be over, but money is still tight and many charities are still feeling the pinch.

For many in the voluntary sector, it has undoubtedly been tough to recover from the punch the economic recession has dealt. For instance, in 2011, the Nonprofit Finance Fund survey reported 87 percent of US non-profit organisations were hit by the decline in the US economy. And in the UK, a 2012 report by the Charities Aid Foundation suggested a fall in the number of donations could put one in six UK charities at risk of closure.

Saving cash is a good idea from a public perception point of view too. Take the UK, for example. According to a report from nfpSynergy, the British public believes charities spend twice as much on admin costs as they should and not enough on their cause.

So while global finances are recovering and charitable giving is on the increase, the voluntary sector still needs to deliver more for less. Using cloud-based collaboration tools is one way of achieving that because it’s relatively inexpensive. Glasscubes, for instance, is highly cost effective and offers discounted pricing for charities and non-profit organisations.

You can also save on IT costs because you don’t need any additional equipment or software – Glasscubes operates entirely in the cloud, so all you need is a computer, smartphone or other mobile device and a browser. It’s incredibly easy to use too, so you won’t have to waste resources on training your staff or volunteers to use it.

What all that means is you could work more effectively yet still have more money to spend on supporting the people or causes that you’re trying to help.

So is the cloud really the future for charities? Countless experts think so. Despite that, many have yet to get on board. So find out how Glasscubes could help your charity by emailing us or calling us on +44 (0)20 3174 2310.

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