Nonprofit 411: Cause Marketing: What You Need to Know Before You Sign

BMK-HeadshotMore and more companies want to partner with nonprofits in cause marketing campaigns. Also known as commercial co-ventures, these partnerships can help both parties build their brands and enhance their effectiveness. Many prospective co-venturers don’t realize that they need to register or submit other documents in many states.

Harbor Compliance Account Executive Brock Klinger has helped many businesses and nonprofits set up successful co-ventures. “Overall, commercial co-ventures are a positive opportunity, but business and charities should only engage once they’ve ensured all requirements are met,” he said. Brock recently provided some advice for setting up a compliant cause marketing campaign.

What are commercial co-ventures?

Commercial co-ventures are agreements to conduct a revenue-generating activity and donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity. They include campaigns such as cash register donation requests, coupon nights at restaurants, co-branded merchandise sales, and charity events, and their popularity has soared in recent years. “Cause marketing is a huge trend in advertising circles because it allows businesses to align themselves with charity brands that their consumers are passionate about,” Brock said. “Commercial co-ventures allow businesses to translate their values into tangible actions.”

The most successful co-ventures are generally ones that align closely with the company’s brand and mission. For example, a company that sells outdoor gear may do well with an environmental campaign, while a children’s clothing chain might do better with a charity serving kids.

What do they require?

Both charities and companies have obligations to meet when engaging in a co-venture.

Twenty-four states have registration and disclosure requirements for co-venturers. Some states require certain disclosure language to be used in advertising, or specific provisions to be included in the co-venture contract. In Alabama, California, Massachusetts, and South Carolina, the business must register and submit a copy of the contract within a prescribed period before launch of the campaign. In Illinois, the nonprofit must register and file the contract. Wherever contracts are required, the co-venturers must generally file a financial statement at the end of the campaign summarizing receipts and expenditures. In Massachusetts, co-venturers must secure a bond.

In addition, nonprofits must meet state charitable solicitation requirements wherever they will be raising funds. If the campaign is conducted online, you may need to meet requirements nationwide. State charity officials check the nonprofit’s registration status when reviewing co-venture contracts, and some states specifically advise co-venturers to ensure that the nonprofit is fully registered before entering into contracts. Many states also advise donors to check registration status before donating.

Is registration expensive?

Across the board, registration fees for co-ventures are minor. Because the requirements are detailed and varied in each state, however, it can take a great deal of time to sort through them and complete the required paperwork.

Building a strong foundation

Like many state requirements, co-venture regulations exist to protect the public, ensuring that campaigns fulfill their promises to participating consumers. In this case, the requirements also protect co-venturers by ensuring that the terms of the contract are fulfilled.

If you have questions about commercial co-ventures, get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer them.

About the author

Brock Klinger leads Harbor Compliance’s fundraising compliance sales team. He handles charitable solicitation, professional fundraising, commercial co-venture, and charitable gift annuity client relationships across all jurisdictions and industries. Brock’s work also includes nonprofit formation services, industry-specific and occupational licensing, and corporate lifecycle services.

Nonprofit 411: Finding Opportunities in the New Tax Law

by George Zoglio, Principal, Zoglio Financial Management Solutions

“Finding opportunity is a matter of believing it is there” – Barbara Corcoran, entrepreneur, business leader, and “Shark Tank” investor

facepic (1)The ink on the landmark federal tax reform law, the Tax Cuts and Job Act, is barely dry. Much of the initial analysis points to an unintended negative impact on individual charitable giving. Under the new law, it is anticipated that even a greater number of taxpayers will not be able to itemize deductions, generating concern in the nonprofit sector that if a donor does not see a direct tax benefit from their contribution, they may be less inclined to give.

While the new tax law will likely provide challenges for nonprofits, there may be opportunities- if an organization knows where to look.

20% deduction for “pass-through” entities

A number of small- to mid-size businesses are taxed as “pass-through” entities, meaning the individuals who own them pay tax individually on the income derived from that business. The new tax legislation provides many of these businesses a first-time ever 20% deduction against their business income.

Who are these businesses that could take advantage of this deduction? Just walk down Main Street. They are your local restaurants, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, health clubs and spas, and other “Mom and Pop” establishments.

The individuals benefitting from this new deduction may be quite interested in “reinvesting” some of their tax savings in their community through a local nonprofit, viewing it as an opportunity to “do good while doing well.”

Nonprofits establishing relationships with local businesses is advantageous for a number of reasons. For example, the service populations of nonprofits and businesses may overlap. Building and fostering these relationships will strengthen the impact of and maximize the value for both the nonprofit and the business owner.

Social Return on Investment

Now more than ever, nonprofits will be challenged to effectively demonstrate and communicate how charitable giving has resulted in a real impact in the donors’ community. In recent years, a number of visionary and creative nonprofits in the United States have adopted the concept of Social Return on Investment (SROI) to quantify this impact.

Similar to the way financial ROI quantifies the gain or return on a financial investment, SROI strives to quantify the social and community impact of the programmatic investment. One way of calculating SROI would be:

Incremental impact achieved / Resources invested (program costs) = SROI

The incremental impact (or numerator in above equation) includes the tangible and/or intangible benefits generated that are attributable to the activities of the nonprofit. This might include a quantification of the costs saved or averted from a nonprofit’s intervention, with the supporting data extracted from published studies from reputable sources (i.e. studies on costs associated with a single family facing food insecurity, or the cost associated with the homelessness of one person) or from the nonprofits own internally collected data.

Jewish Vocational Service of Boston was able to demonstrate an SROI of $2 to $3 higher earnings by clients for every program dollar invested in the first two years of program completion and up to $15 after ten years. The Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota was able to quantify an SROI of $4.89 for every dollar invested in its Youth Intervention Program.

While heartwarming anecdotal stories that demonstrate impact are essential components of a nonprofit communications strategy, today’s reality is that we live in an information-driven society. Those nonprofits that can successfully convert the data they already collect into quantifiable outcomes and impact will possess a distinct advantage when soliciting charitable giving.

Are you up for the challenge?

Zoglio Financial Management Solutions provides outsourced, part-time and interim CFO, accounting, financial management and reporting, budgeting and related consulting services. They have expertise in working with small- to medium-sized nonprofits organizations.

Nonprofit 411: Getting Everything Done

By Annette Rubin, Certified Professional Coach, Founder of Coaching to Potential

Annette Rubin Getting Everything DoneIn the nonprofit world there always seems to be too much work and too few resources, but by focusing on what really matters—and using your time carefully and wisely—you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish. Here are suggestions for getting everything done.

Be Sure Everything You’re Doing Really Has to Be Done by You

Often people discover that they have tasks and projects on their to-do list that should be done by others. There are three basic reasons.

  • You can’t say no. Consider each request based on the importance to your organization, level of priority in relation to other work, who is asking, and whether someone else can take it on.
  • You don’t delegate. You may believe that your staff or colleagues are already working too hard or wouldn’t be able to do a job as well as you. However, giving others the opportunity to take on new tasks facilitates their engagement, helps them gain confidence and new skills, and supports your efforts to get the organization’s work done.
  • You haven’t let go of tasks/projects you don’t have to do yourself. Sometimes you just enjoy doing work that really isn’t part of your job description. Make sure you make your own critical work your highest priority.

Get Rid of Unnecessary Time-Wasters

You may find as you look back on how you spent your day that you actually spend very few hours taking care of business. Here’s what can you do to increase your focused work time.

  • Manage your meetings. Before you agree to attend any meeting, ask yourself if it is critical for you to be there. If not, then decline the meeting. Make certain that every meeting you organize is critical. Ensure you have a tight agenda, limit the length of the meeting, and stick to the schedule.
  • Manage distractions. Check your accumulated email or other social media only a few pre-considered times each day, so that you minimize the number of interruptions.
  • Encourage colleagues to schedule meetings instead of dropping in for unscheduled “brief chats.” Close your door when you are focused on a project, and put up a Please Do Not Disturb sign if necessary. If you don’t have a door, put a sign where everyone can see it. Create a culture of respect for people’s time and recognition of how distractions limit productivity.

Manage Your Work and Time

Do you take charge of each day or do you let requests from others divert you from your own essential work? Be strategic in the use of your limited time.

  • Know what you have to do. Create a list of everything on your plate. Update the list daily. Separate the list into categories: items that you can do quickly, tasks that might take up to a couple of hours and longer-term projects. Each day identify your priorities and focus on them.
  • Plan your day. Use your calendar to reserve time for projects and tasks, especially for work that requires concentration. If you have to bump one of these appointments with yourself, reschedule the time you’ve set aside for YOUR work so that doesn’t get lost.
  • Set deadlines. Assign a deadline for all of your projects and tasks. Then hold yourself accountable. Without a deadline, tasks and projects may remain on your list.

In End-of-Year Fundraising, Consider Tax Reform in Your Pitches

The end of the calendar year is typically a time of frenzied fundraising for many of our members. This year is no different- except that last week, the federal tax bill passed the House and Senate. It will take affect in 2018.

One of the bill’s effects is that millions of donors across the country will no longer itemize their deductions. Those donors will no longer utilize the charitable tax deduction, beginning with their 2018 contributions. In MNN’s Commonwealth Insights publication earlier this year, we estimated that change could reduce Massachusetts giving by up to $513 million.

As you prepare your end-of-year asks to donors and other supporters, we suggest that you notify them of this change and encourage those affected to take advantage of the charitable deduction while they still can by donating in 2017. If you have already sent out your direct mail campaign, consider making phone calls or starting an online campaign.

MNN remains committed to working with our members, and our colleagues across the country, to advocate for the interests of nonprofits.

Nonprofit 411: State-Sponsored 401k Plan for Massachusetts Nonprofits

Expanding Benefits as an Employee Retention Tool Just Got Easier

by State Treasurer Deborah B. GoldbergTreasurer Deborah B. Goldberg

One of every organization’s most valuable assets are the people who work there.  With more rapid changes brought about by the increased use of technology, and improvements in the national and local economies that translate into more competitive job markets, keeping your most talented employees has never been more challenging. Even within the nonprofit sector, it is critical to offer employees compelling benefits to remain and work for the causes they care about. This environment means your organization should do more, and we have a tool that can help.

The Massachusetts CORE Plan (CORE Plan) is a state-sponsored 401(k) retirement plan designed especially for small Massachusetts nonprofit organizations.  As CORE Plan Sponsor, the Office of The State Treasurer assumes a number of administrative and investment responsibilities on behalf of participating employers and their participating employees.  The CORE Plan is a Multiple Employer Plan, which allows us to combine Plan assets between your organization and other organizations across the state, bringing down the costs of offering a full-featured 401(k). The CORE Plan leverages the expertise and best practices used today in many large retirement plans while striving to keep costs low for employers and employees. Nonprofit organizations based and chartered in Massachusetts and employing 20 or fewer staff may adopt the CORE Plan.

Your employees likely know how important it is to save for retirement, but opening an IRA and remembering to contribute, or making sure enough is being contributed, is not always as easy as it should be. The CORE Plan is designed to make it simple and straightforward to participate and see real savings add up.

Some of the key features of the CORE Plan include:

  • All of the employee benefit protections under ERISA.
  • Automatic enrollment, combined with auto-escalation of employee contributions, makes it easy for CORE Plan participants to start saving early and grow savings rates quickly.
  • Higher contribution limits versus an IRA and the potential for employer-matching contributions.
  • The investment structure of the CORE Plan is developed and monitored by an independent investment consultant acting as a fiduciary under ERISA.
  • Knowledgeable CORE Plan representatives available to explain Plan benefits to your employees.
  • Easy-to-read fee disclosures ensure that participants are aware of fees. There are no deferred sales charges or contractual obligations for CORE Plan participants.
  • A robust participant website experience includes individual retirement income projections based on each participant’s age, contribution rate, account balance, and investment allocation: www.ma-core.com.

For additional information regarding the CORE Plan employers may visit us at www.ma-core.com or contact us at 877-630-4015. Find out how you can join us in adding value to your employee benefits.

PS: If you are an employee at a small Massachusetts nonprofit and think your organization could benefit from adding the CORE Plan, please share this information with your executive staff or human resources department.

Nonprofit 411: Driving Diverse, Desired Target-Audience Actions with Online Advertising

306ae18By Gail Snow Moraski, Principal and Digital Marketer, Results Communications and Research

Anyone who’s held a discussion with me about marketing and development activities knows I’m a huge fan of online advertising. Because search engine networks, such as Google AdWords, and social media platforms, such as Facebook, allow advertisers to execute campaigns where they only pay when a target-audience member clicks on a “pay-per-click” ad, advertising on the aforementioned networks/platforms can be quite cost-effective, particularly since you still get valuable, awareness-generating “impressions” for free!

Because many nonprofit organizations aren’t looking to receive compensation for their services, individuals charged with marketing and development activities may assume online advertising doesn’t make sense for them. It’s very reasonable to think that our “featured” marketing vehicle only makes sense for for-profit businesses looking to generate product and service sales. With the ideas shared below, I hope to shake up those preconceived notions and shed light on why I believe there is a role for online advertising in a nonprofit’s marketing and development toolbox.

Fundraising Application

As I’ve shared with nonprofit contacts, while the individuals who comprise their target audience may not be directly searching for the contact’s upcoming fundraising event(s), those individuals may still be searching on terms that have some relevancy to the  fundraising activity. For example, let’s say an organization holds an annual holiday high tea to support development goals. The organization would likely benefit from running search engine (“paid search”) ads targeted to women, aged 25+ and residing in relevant geographies, who are entering terms in a search engine which indicate they are trying to identify local, charitable, holiday events to attend with their girlfriends, sisters, moms, etc.

In addition to running paid search advertising to create event awareness and ticket sales among “searchers”, the organization should consider running display/image ads on a variety of social media platforms and/or search engine “display” networks, like Google AdWords Display. In lieu of presenting ads to individuals based on their “search” behavior, social media and display networks offer the option to have ads presented to individuals who have certain interests, read about certain topics, or who visit certain Web sites (“placements”).

The type of targeting selected to promote an event may be very closely or very loosely tied to its nature. For example, if an organization is selling tickets to a cooking class “fundraiser”, it would make great sense to target individuals who have an interest in or read articles about cooking, or who visit cooking Web sites. But, in the case of our high-tea fundraiser, there may not be an obvious “interest” or “topic” target to pursue, and targeting may simply consist of having ads presented to women who meet an organization’s geography requirements and who visit Web sites known to have large female readerships.

The above scenario should apply as well to causing individuals to make donations. Presenting ads to audiences whose demographics and interests make them good donation targets should serve to create awareness or reminders of your organization, and therefore, support donation-making.

Driving Non-Monetary Actions

Online advertising can also be used to cause target audiences to take important non-monetary actions. For example, display/image ads presented to appropriate individuals can cause a note-worthy percentage to click to “sign up for a weekly e-blast,” “learn more about volunteering” or “complete our survey to help us serve our constituents better.”

When putting together your marketing and communications plan for a campaign – whether its purpose be to grow funds, volunteers, e-communication sign-ups, or awareness – be sure to give ample thought to what campaign objectives might be achieved if you included online advertising as a tactic, and the opportunities that might be lost if you forego this cost-effective tactic.

Nonprofit 411: Workplace Conflict – Is It Always Just About the People?

by Janet Grogan, The Mediation GroupJanet Grogan

The times we live in seem to be exacerbating tensions in the workplace. Hostilities seem to be more overt; they are certainly often more public. Diagnosing the real nature of a conflict when it arises and ensuring that the right intervention is applied is crucial to preventing a continuing burn that could explode in the future. But this is easier said than done for a number of reasons:

  • The web of laws and regulations that govern many workplace processes can be difficult to untangle and apply to any given situation. They overlap, sometimes contradict, and often confuse.
  • Our nonprofit cultures are complex. We are proudly mission-driven, motivated by what ought to be but frustrated by what is.  We often make assumptions about shared values and feel betrayed when we learn that sometimes they are not.
  • We have limited resources and less latitude to use resources to help with things that are not direct program delivery.
  • Making any kind of change is hard. It is hard for us as individual human beings to alter behaviors and beliefs acquired over time.  It is just as hard for an organization to make changes in the way it operates.

Because finding the right solution is hard, what often happens when tensions or conflicts arise is that either it is ignored in the hope that it will resolve and go away, or, the solution applied is based on the symptoms presented rather than the underlying issue.

For example, Brian, a supervisor at a community-based organization, is upset with his employee, Mayra.  He had given her a directive NOT to do X, and she did it anyway. From his perspective, she has been blatantly insubordinate, and he issues a formal written warning. An upset Mayra files a complaint about Brian. Issuing a warning is not an illogical response to an act of insubordination – but, what was that “insubordination” about?

In an in-house meeting, a neutral probed Mayra’s understanding of the directive and her thought process that led her to do X. It turned out that, while Mayra’s thought process was different from Brian’s, it was not without its own merit, and resulted, in part from Brian’s way of communicating his directive, as well as from some confusion and overlap in their respective authority and mandate to carry out certain aspects of their department’s job. Brian realized that Mayra didn’t simply “defy” him, Mayra realized that she needed to ask more questions, and they both realized that they needed to do some work to clarify roles and responsibilities.

The organization learned a few crucial lessons about handling workplace conflict:

  • It’s not always “just” interpersonal. There are almost always ways in which the organization’s history, structure, systems and culture contribute (as in the lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities in the example).
  • Good listeners and problem solvers need to take the time to delve thoroughly into the issue, to listen to everyone involved and understand their perspectives, and to analyze the organizational contribution.
  • Once solutions are proposed, they need to be monitored to see how and if they are working – and adjusted as needed.
  • Solutions need to match the organization’s resources. If a manager would benefit from professional coaching, but the organization can’t afford it, other options must be developed to help that manager.

And, of course, there are times when a conflict really may be just about the people and should be dealt with as such. Just be sure to look beneath the surface before you decide!

***

Janet Grogan is a senior consultant with The Mediation Group. Previously the head of HR for the Massachusetts Port Authority, Janet has developed HR policy, conducted training, facilitated and implemented strategic planning and has a track record of mediating disputes and creating effective solutions for internal resolution. Contact her at jgrogan@themediationgroup.org.

Nonprofit 411: To Build Your Fundraising Capacity, Start With a Plan

by Betsy Gonzalez, Harbor Compliance

A national study of fundraising challenges found Gonzalez head shotthat 23 percent of nonprofits, and 31 percent of nonprofits with operating budgets under $1 million, had no fundraising plan in place. Yet only 7 percent of high-performing nonprofits were without a plan.[1]

Creating a comprehensive road map for your fundraising efforts clearly pays off. And since 41 states require nonprofits to register before fundraising, and 25 states require special disclosure statements, it’s important to include state fundraising requirements in your plans. Unfortunately, the requirements are not always well understood. As Tim Delaney, president of the National Council of Nonprofits, recently noted, “Charitable solicitation laws vary widely from state to state and compliance can be confusing, costly, and time-consuming.”

The National Council of Nonprofits and Harbor Compliance created a Best Practices Partnership and published a white paper to help nonprofits understand charitable solicitation requirements. Mike Montali, CEO of Harbor Compliance, said, “The new guide and ongoing relationship with the Council of Nonprofits will make sure nonprofits nationwide have access to information that will help them advance their missions.” The white paper can be found here.

As a quick overview, let’s cover a few of the highlights.

The first step is to determine where you’re soliciting and what the requirements are in those states.

Soliciting = Asking for Donations

Soliciting means, simply, asking for donations, including traditional appeals such as mailings, fundraising events, phone solicitations, and advertising. But it also includes some activities you may not expect, such as personal requests by board members and grant applications. If you send a letter to a list of donors in ten states, you are soliciting in those states, and you may be subject to their registration requirements. In some states, the requirements only kick in after a certain dollar threshold. In others, it only counts if you actually receive donations from residents there. It is best to assume that you’re fundraising wherever your messages are reaching, and research the requirements in all of those states.

Digital Fundraising

So what does that mean in the age of digital fundraising? “Something as simple as having a ‘donate now’ link on your nonprofit’s e-newsletters that go beyond your state’s borders may equate to ‘fundraising solicitation’ that triggers a registration obligation in some states,” Tim said. Basically, if you’re fundraising on social media, through email, or through your website, you may need to meet registration requirements in all states where they apply.

To build their fundraising programs to full capacity, many nonprofits simply register nationally. Others hold back, assuming that nationwide registration must involve a lot of time and expense. In fact, state fees are small, particularly compared to the potential upside of fundraising nationally, and a compliance partner can eliminate the administrative burden. The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that nationwide registration is out of reach. Consult an expert and get hard numbers before making a decision.

Access the Complete Guide

This is just a quick overview of state charitable solicitation requirements and how they might factor into a comprehensive fundraising plan. To help nonprofits understand the requirements and maintain good standing, the National Council of Nonprofits teamed up with Harbor Compliance to publish Charitable Solicitation Compliance: an Explanation of State Charitable Registration Requirements. The guide provides valuable information you can use to design a fundraising plan that will take your nonprofit to new levels of performance.

If you have questions about fundraising compliance, get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer them.

 

About the author

Betsy Gonzalez is a copywriter and editor for Harbor Compliance, a leading provider of compliance solutions for nonprofits and businesses at all phases of development. Since 2012, we have helped more than 10,000 organizations apply for, secure, and maintain licensing and registration across all industries including other considerations such as appointing a registered agent, obtaining a certificate of authority, annual reporting, and renewals.

[1] Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising, CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. https://www.compasspoint.org/underdeveloped

Nonprofit 411: How One Nonprofit Revolutionized Its Employee Healthcare

Callihan-headshot

By Nonstop Wellness

Patrick Callihan, executive director of Tech Impact, has made significant changes to his employees’ health insurance in an effort to reduce costs and improve benefits. Taking cues from the self-funding world, Tech Impact now uses a partially self-funded insurance approach that has stabilized premium costs and eliminated out-of-pocket expenses for his staff of 55.  Nonstop Wellness caught up with him to learn more.

Q: Why did Tech Impact begin moving away from the traditional insurance model?

A: For many years, my previous broker would come to me with double-digit increases and I would ask “what can we do creatively to avoid taking this hit?” So I began self-insuring pieces of our healthcare plan. It reduced the premium increase, but it also meant that as an organization we were taking on more risk. Because of our size I didn’t think we were in a position to self-fund entirely, so that model was not an option for us.

Q: What drew you specifically to the Nonstop Wellness model of partial self-insurance?

A: Moving to Nonstop Wellness meant our healthcare premiums remained stable, we could slow down healthcare inflation year over year, and we could provide better benefits to our employees with a $0 out-of-pocket insurance program. It’s a win-win for both Tech Impact and our staff, in that we experienced organizational cost-savings and our employees no longer pay copays, deductibles or coinsurance costs.

Beyond that, I was just really blown away by Nonstop’s financial model and how Nonstop Wellness is engineered. Nonstop has created a predictable algorithm that compares cost and actual usage of the plan. It’s an awesome business model that allows nonprofits to access the upside of self-insurance with none of the downside.

Q: How has moving to a partial self-insured approach supported Tech Impact’s business model?

A: We are growing quickly, so this has been a great recruitment tool. When I describe our healthcare plan to prospective employees, I often get a jaw drop. We pay 90 percent of premiums, so that, coupled with $0 out-of-pocket costs, means that employee wages stay stable each month. That is a huge win. For many people, this can be the difference between staying in the black or going into debt. There are no “gotchas” with Nonstop Wellness like there can be with other plans. It speaks to quality of life, something that is important to both me and my associates.

Q: What advice would you give to other nonprofits that are seeking an alternative to traditional health insurance?

A: My first reaction to Nonstop Wellness was that the model was too good to be true. But when you dig into the research and vetting process, the financials and logistics are quite sound. In addition, I really feel that Nonstop is our advocate when it comes to employee healthcare. It gives me a lot of confidence and comfort. Healthcare is a big line item for us, so having someone in our corner makes a difference. I’d encourage all nonprofit leadership to dedicate the time and resources needed to explore alternatives to the traditional fully insured model. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Tech Impact’s mission is to empower communities and nonprofits to use technology to better serve our world by providing telecom, cloud migrations, data services, and managed IT services to nonprofits/NGO’s on a national and international scale. Tech Impact also offers workforce development programs for underrepresented communities in Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, DE, and Las Vegas, NV. To learn more please visit www.techimpact.org.

Nonprofit 411: How to Find Money in the Cloud

By Ryan Ecclestone, Director of IT Consulting, Insource Services, Inc.Ryan Ecclestone

Nonprofit organizations are faced with the challenge of managing their costs and spending and implementing technology to leverage their resources and support achievement of their mission. As every dollar counts, many nonprofits utilize Cloud solutions because they are often the most cost-effective and sustainable technology solution.

Two of the most popular cloud vendors, Microsoft Azure Cloud (Azure) and Amazon Web Services Cloud (AWS), offer secure Cloud services that provide computing power, backups and disaster recovery services, database storage, content delivery, and other functionality without requiring organizations to invest in physical infrastructure. Both offer thousands of dollars in discounts to nonprofits.

What Nonprofit Discounts Are Available?

Azure

As part of their $1 Billion “Public Cloud for the Public Good” commitment, Microsoft offers a program specifically geared towards qualified nonprofit organizations.

Azure Credit Program for Nonprofits:

  • Offers $5,000 in credits annually which can be applied towards the complete portfolio of Azure services.
    • The primary approach to receiving discounts on Azure is through your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA). Any EA customer can add Azure to their EA with an upfront financial commitment to Azure. That commitment is consumed throughout the year by using any combination of cloud services.

Here’s how an Insource client took advantage of the discounts offered for Azure:

Client Y was already using Cloud products for their email and file sharing needs, but still had an onsite server for user and computer management. Using the Azure credit, Insource built a cloud server to manage these roles, thereby reducing our client’s need for premise equipment and complicated backup procedures.

AWS

In 2016, AWS partnered with TechSoup Global to provide AWS credits to nonprofits. Through the AWS Credit Program, nonprofits can select packaged AWS Cloud services.

AWS Credit Program for Nonprofits:

  • Makes a grant of $2,000 annually in credits to eligible 501(c)(3) organizations
    • Sign-up through TechSoup ($175 admin fee each year)
    • Apply these service credits toward usage fees for AWS on-demand Cloud services and certain AWS support fees.

In addition to the AWS Credits Program for Nonprofits, AWS offers the AWS Free Tier for all new customers for 12 months following the organization’s sign-up date. The AWS Free Tier is a separate offer from the AWS Credits Program and allows new customers to use certain AWS services for free up to certain usage limits. The AWS Free Tier is available for one AWS account only per organization.

Let’s look at an instance of leveraging the AWS discount:

Client X was experiencing frustration with its current web host due to increasing costs, outages and lack of support. Using the AWS credit, Insource consultants set up a Cloud server for hosting Client X’s web application. The benefits of this change included: significant cost savings, more control over the website environment, and a reduction in reported issues.

How to Make These Discounts Work for You?

Cloud solutions are an attractive option for nonprofits – they offer flexibility, savings on infrastructure costs, and improved methods for collaboration. Comparing pricing among the major Cloud vendors, like AWS and Azure, is a complex process and the array of offerings and discounts can be overwhelming. Insource IT experts can guide you through understanding and choosing the right Cloud-based system(s) to meet your needs, while ensuring that all applicable discounts are utilized, whichever platform you select.