What Nonprofits Should Look for in a SaaS Provider
The nonprofit sector has witnessed an explosion in the number of online application vendors providing products designed to help organizations achieve their mission. From fundraising to e-communication to accounting solutions, there are many vendors vying for the opportunity to help nonprofits harness the power of the Internet.
Understanding the benefits of software as a service (SaaS) vs. traditional on-premise software, organizations are faced with the task of selecting the SaaS provider with which to partner. But what should organizations be looking for during the SaaS vendor selection process beyond the usual product feature comparison? This paper identifies the foundational selection criteria for nonprofits to consider when choosing their SaaS partner.
Looking beyond the immediate
The first order of business for most nonprofits researching a software as a service provider is to gain a thorough understanding of the product features and determine whether it meets their existing needs. This means that nonprofits often assess vendors without considering future organizational growth that may necessitate additional software applications or more robust functionality.
For example, you may only need a content management system for your nonprofit’s Web site today — but will you outgrow your existing database or donor management system in the next few years? With this in mind, would you want to consider a vendor with a CMS product that connects directly to a database? And will your new Web site have online donation capabilities? Would you need to consider an accounting system that integrates with your online donations and donor database?
This line of thinking can prevent nonprofits from limiting their growth — or avoiding a costly mistake — by planning ahead for the organization’s future software needs.
Comprehensive solutions vs. one- (or three-) hit wonders
As organizations contemplate and plan for their future technology needs, it’s important to identify whether the vendor offers a comprehensive solution designed to help you raise more money, reach more people and run more efficiently — or whether the vendor is limited to just a few individual applications. For example, a nonprofit shopping for a fundraising solution will be met by possibly dozens of vendors selling fundraising solutions. But what is the depth of their overall offering? What is the company’s vision for their fundraising product and how does it fit into the overall needs of the nonprofit sector?