ShareKnowledge Blog

Why non-profits should be using SharePoint

Amber Rasmussen June, 2017
SharPoint for Non-Profits

Non-profits face a myriad of challenges from fundraising to meeting increased demands for services to utilizing technology effectively. Technology plays a very large role in the success of a business, including non-profits, which is why this blog will focus on providing additional detail about the many reasons why all non-profits should be using SharePoint.

In the non-profit world, every resource must provide optimal benefits because there just isn’t the budget necessary to be wasteful or ineffective.

Up until now, SharePoint was the tool of choice for big organizations with large IT departments and deep pockets. This isn’t the case anymore with the release of Office 365 and SharePoint online. Non-profits can now find a SharePoint version that is affordable and effective.

SharePoint Benefits for Non-Profits

It goes without saying that first and foremost, Microsoft offers Office 365 and SharePoint free or at a significant discount to non-profits (depending on the plan). This is a no brainer considering all the many features and benefits provided.

Secondly, SharePoint provides a centralized place for crucial business needs. Like most other non-profits, it’s quite common to have email accounts hosted with some 3rd party provider like Yahoo or Google and important documents stored all over the place (i.e. Dropbox or personal drives). Utilizing SharePoint brings all these important aspects of your nonprofit under one roof. This is a major bonus, especially since there is generally a higher turnover rate than other organizations. When a person leaves – so are the files they worked on. With SharePoint there is a cohesiveness that streamlines processes.

As far as IT goes, there is no need for in-house technical experts which many non-profits simply don’t have. Since your files are in the cloud, Microsoft controls the security aspect and spends millions of dollars on the effort.

If you’re still not sold so far on the benefits SharePoint can provide your non-profit, consider these additional features:

  • Create custom applications, functions and websites without complicated coding
  • Give employees, members and donors secure access to important information
  • Enable collaboration from anywhere with mobile and online capabilities
  • Manage all your social activity with real-time activity feeds and knowledge mining
  • Cut costs by consolidating intranet, extranet and Internet sites
  • Choose on-site or cloud-based deployments
  • Leverage hundreds of Microsoft and independent add-ons and plug-ins

Unique challenges to non-profits and how SharePoint can help

In the world of non-profit, there are some unique challenges in the areas of compensation and benefits, training and development and recruiting.

Compensation and Benefits

Payroll is undoubtedly a top concern for nonprofits. Ever-changing regulations make it difficult to remain compliant, while limited staff means there may not be someone on site to actually run reports, process payroll, and cut checks. Nothing upsets an employee more than a late or missing check. And failure to maintain compliance can lead to penalties or automatic revocation of your tax exempt status.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do:

Adopt good practices to maintain compliance – By maintaining good records, keeping up-to-date on regulations, and implementing measures to prevent conflicts of interest you are taking the appropriate steps to help remain in compliance.

SharePoint is a great tool to use when it comes to compliance. Record keeping is vital and SharePoint document management as well as version control, workflows and auditing all contribute to your non-profit having all their T’s crossed and I’s dotted.

Training and Development

One of the best ways to help a cause is through education.

When comparing the most successful NGOs, such as Greenpeace and Doctors without Borders, we can see that they operate more or less on the same scale as large multinational companies. They face the same problems, sport identical hierarchies and even have similar needs. This includes training - either for their own employees and partners, or for educating the general public.

Nonprofit organizations should strive to provide a continuous learning environment. Ongoing training is critical to keep up with best practices and provide a platform for learning new skills and improving others.

A SharePoint learning portal is the perfect solution for training needs - from organizing learning content to team sites and discussion boards.

Recruitment and Selection

Limited resources, coupled with an overtaxed or non-existent HR staff, means that nonprofits have a particularly hard time attracting and retaining quality talent.

Onboarding is particularly important to keep qualified employees. Right from the get go, your employees should be able to find the tools they need to do their job as well as find the people who can help with their questions.

SharePoint HR portals provide all these resources for new employees in one place. This goes hand in hand with creating a solid company culture through rich engagement.

Most non-profit organizations have employees in different offices, with field offices being mostly far-flung and remote. With a technology-aided platform, like SharePoint, all employees can be engaged with one another on a continuous basis which helps them work better together.

SharePoint can automatically send updates on events, trainings, news, with no added efforts, this relieves employees of administrative duties that come along with arranging events and making sure all employees fit them into their schedules. Most modern eLearning platforms are equipped with features like content sharing, reporting, calendaring, and administrative tools that help employees stay up-to-date and in sync with one another.

SharePoint is a multi-functional tool that works perfectly for the needs of non-profits. With free or reduced pricing and cloud options, it makes available features like centralized document management, training, social and compliance all in one centralized location.

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