Is Your Association or Not-for-Profit Making the Most of Cloud-Based Services?
Although free cloud-based services have been around for quite some time, many organizations do not use them at all or fail to exploit their full potential. Most use them for little more than sharing big files with their peers or perhaps making backups of current projects. But there are simple ways for associations to get more out of cloud-based services with little effort.
Know the Law and Your Association's Policies
Before you jump into expanding your use of cloud-based services, know how your organization's data policies, let alone legal obligations and restrictions, will be impacted. Does your organization handle confidential materials it cannot legally store on the cloud? Do your current policies require handling data in a specific way that doesn't account for the cloud? If so, has the time come to revisit those policies?
Two Association Uses for Cloud-Based Services
The nature of associations and not-for-profits create some interesting opportunities for using cloud-based services that many businesses have no need for. Let's look at two of those:
1. Supplementary Event Materials
Is your association or not-for-profit hosting an event? Do you want people to look over some handouts beforehand or during the event? How do you normally do so? Email? Sending files through email is unreliable thanks to spam filters and size limitations, and people sometimes forget to bring the materials with them.
So, what is the solution?
Many free cloud-based solutions for file storage allow you to share files publicly while still limiting access to your intended audience. For example, with Dropbox (probably the cloud-based services option people are most familiar with), you can send a link to a specific file that allows anyone who receives the link to download and view the content. This is an easy way to event-related content to someone without worrying about hitting their email file size limit, and it allows you to share on-the-spot with attendees via their mobile devices.
2. Public and Volunteer Accessibility
Typically, any public-facing content an association wants available for download is stored on their server. This is a simple and effective solution if your organization only allows a few people to manipulate these files or if you have an easy-to-use mechanism in place for this purpose. If not, though, you can create a logjam while waiting for IT to upload files for a new initiative or campaign.
With the cloud, your organization has easy access to online file storage. These files can then be shared with the public in much the same way as supplementary event materials, as previously detailed. There is no need to wait on IT to prioritize your document hosting. And yet, IT can still add your cloud's file sharing links on your website so your files can also be accessed there.
Cloud-based services are also excellent tools for getting files to volunteers working on-site during a specific campaign or event. For instance, if your organization has volunteers canvassing a particular area, you can make handouts accessible via the cloud so they can simply walk into the nearest print shop and run off more instead of heading back to the office. This also allows them to email documentation to interested parties on the spot by getting the latter's email and forwarding the files from the cloud.
Because technology changes so quickly, and associations and not-for-profits so slowly, the latter are often struggling to stay current. In his book, Digital Transformation for Associations: Competing in the Marketplace for Ideas, Randall Craig helps organizations in need of a digital transformation.