What Nonprofits Should Look for in a SaaS Provider
Companies that specialize in one product or even offer multiple products that meet some of a nonprofit’s needs may prove challenging to a nonprofit, if selected. Vendors that presently only solve a few of the sector’s organizational needs are already outdated in the rapidly evolving nonprofit software market. Nonprofits are growing and need to be prepared for the baby boomers, who represent almost 30 percent of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. By 2015, all baby boomers will be over age 50. According to the Associated Press, people over age 50 control more than $7 trillion in personal wealth today and once the rest of the baby boomers pass the half-century mark, those numbers will be even higher.
Companies that don’t yet offer capabilities such as accounting, wealth screening and donor-advised funds as part of their overall solution are already behind the technology curve. Can today’s nonprofits afford not to partner with vendors that have already invested in and prepared for the nonprofit sector’s future needs and growth?
Unified we stand
In addition to a comprehensive solution suite, it is just as important for organizations to select a software as a service vendor that offers a unified platform. While nonprofits need to plan for the day they need a full suite of SaaS applications, some organizations are simply not ready to make a complete transition. As such, nonprofits should look for SaaS vendors in which one or multiple applications can be easily initiated any time. In addition, a unified platform means that nonprofits can benefit from the collection, storage and analysis of all data from all associated applications in one unified database, accessible online to the organization via a simple, Web-based interface.
For example, a nonprofit may initially only need an e-communications system for its broadcast e-mails, e-newsletters and direct-mail campaigns. With a unified platform, all interactions and activities associated with these campaigns are captured in the nonprofit’s online system and will remain there to be leveraged when the organization activates additional applications on the platform, such as a donor-management or advocacy system. Unified platforms enable the collection and analysis of information that is critical to both an organization’s survival and its growth, allowing the outcomes to be shared and utilized across departments, chapters and even organization-wide. This free-flow of information helps nonprofits learn and distribute best practices, getting internal players working from the same set of data. In contrast, nonprofits that don’t use vendors with unified platforms generate additional information “silos” and databases, resulting in a lack of useful business analysis and intelligence.