The Growing Potential of Microsoft Solutions for Nonprofits - Heller Consulting

The Growing Potential of Microsoft Solutions for Nonprofits

The world of nonprofit technology is an exciting place these days. As it continues to shift and grow, there is an increasing number of solutions that can help you meet your organization’s strategic goals. Today, I’m sharing how Microsoft is taking the possibilities for nonprofit tech solutions to an entirely new level.

A little background on Microsoft solutions for nonprofits

First, let me give you some background: Microsoft entered the nonprofit tech market a few years ago with Technology for Social Impact (TSI). This division of Microsoft Philanthropies worked with the nonprofit sector and other technology vendors to develop a Common Data Model (NCDM) for Nonprofits. Microsoft the became the first and largest consumer of the NCDM when they launched the Nonprofit Accelerator Dynamics 365 . In effect, these initiatives make it easier for independent software vendors (ISVs) and other solution providers to develop solutions for nonprofits that are built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform and easily work with other Microsoft products.

This approach has opened the way for an unrivaled ecosystem of solutions for nonprofits.

Dive deeper into Microsoft. Download our free guide: What to Know About Microsoft Solutions for the Nonprofit Sector.

The Microsoft nonprofit ecosystem

The Microsoft nonprofit ecosystem includes solutions for every aspect of your organization:

  • Engagement solutions – These are what we typically think of as customer relationship management (CRM) or donor management tools.
  • Efficiency and collaboration tools – These include the systems that support internal work, such as collaboration/efficiency tools (Microsoft 365 tools: Outlook, SharePoint, and Teams) and finance and operations tools (for things like accounting, human resources, inventory, and supply chain management).
  • Infrastructure platforms – These include Microsoft Azure for cloud services, Microsoft Security, Microsoft Exchange, and Enterprise Mobility Management to give you the infrastructure you need to share and access your applications and data securely from any device.
  • Intelligence and impact solutions – These include tools for business intelligence, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.


One thing that makes this ecosystem a potential game-changer for nonprofits is that the solutions are already successful as stand-alone offerings in the commercial world, yet they work together. So, for example, if you already use Microsoft Office work productivity tools, such as Outlook, and you add a CRM tool from the Microsoft nonprofit ecosystem, they share data. Just think how much easier life would be if your donor/constituent data were connected directly with Outlook.

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Another unique aspect of the Microsoft nonprofit ecosystem is its sheer scale. To put this in perspective, Microsoft’s revenue is 10 times that of the next largest commercial vendor that’s active in the nonprofit sector and more than 100 times that of the leading technology provider focused on nonprofits.

This is significant because research and development budgets correlate with revenue. So, the development and support for technology in the Microsoft ecosystem is far greater than other nonprofit technology on the market today.

The Microsoft partner ecosystem for nonprofits

You might have noticed that the Microsoft nonprofit ecosystem is a combination of solutions offered directly from Microsoft and those built by other solution providers. As I mentioned, Microsoft’s initiatives around nonprofit solutions make it easy for Microsoft application partners to quickly build and adapt Microsoft solutions to meet the evolving needs of nonprofits.

MISSION CRM is a great example.

As a Microsoft Partner with a background in developing on Microsoft technology in the commercial sector, MISSION CRM recognized the power and value that could be delivered to the nonprofit sector. The company began developing an application on Microsoft Dynamics 365 focused on fundraising and engagement. Within a year, the Heller Consulting team began working with their team. We shared knowledge from our deep experience with fundraising strategies, operations, and solutions to help inform the development of key aspects of the solution.

Fundraising and Engagement for Dynamics 365 Sales—a Microsoft solution built with MISSION CRM

Microsoft recently introduced Fundraising and Engagement for Dynamics 365 Sales—a Microsoft solution built with MISSION CRM that will benefit from the full stack of Microsoft technology while also having nonprofit-specific capabilities. According to a recent blog post, “Nonprofits, schools, hospitals, and research institutions can utilize Fundraising and Engagement to uncover new funding sources, strengthen existing relationships, and drive fundraising efficiency.”

The Heller Consulting team plans to continue working with the Fundraising & Engagement development team to take the solution to the market, help nonprofits understand how it fits in their own technology ecosystem, and implement it for nonprofits that decide it’s right for their organization.

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Where do you go from here?

At Heller Consulting, we see that technology ecosystems at many nonprofits include solutions (and even platforms) from multiple vendors. These types of ecosystems often come about unintentionally due to various decisions made over multiple years in each organization.

As we look to the future, we see those types of ecosystems continuing, but in a much more intentional manner. For example, it’s clear that Microsoft offers great potential for the nonprofit sector. You’re not likely ready to move to an all-Microsoft ecosystem overnight, but the power of the interoperability of the solutions in the ecosystem will require you to use more than just one of the solutions. So, where do you start?

Examine where you are today and determine if the Microsoft ecosystem is right for your organization. If it is, then begin making incremental steps to add Microsoft solutions to your technology ecosystem.


We have several resources to help you think strategically about next steps for your technology ecosystem:

For more about Microsoft specifically, read these resources and services:

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About the Author

Keith Heller
Keith got his start in nonprofits entering membership gifts into the DOS version of Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge and managing the information and operations in the San Francisco Exploratorium development office back in 1993. Fast forward a few years, and the... Read More