If you’ve read this blog for a while, you probably know that Team Heller has been closely following Microsoft’s movements in the nonprofit sector. We’ve watched Microsoft go from initial investments in the sector to the launch of specific nonprofit solutions. And, we’ve even been involved along the way.
We’ve been excited about the growing potential of Microsoft solutions for nonprofits for several years now because it represents the availability of a whole new level of technology options for nonprofits. But you likely haven’t been following their story as closely as we have. So, we thought you might find it helpful to understand some of the key milestones that exemplify Microsoft’s commitment to nonprofits.
In 2015, Microsoft announced an expansion of their commitment to worldwide corporate philanthropy with the creation of a new organization, Microsoft Philanthropies. This group is focused on delivering the benefits of technology to people with the greatest need.
In 2017, Microsoft made significant moves into the nonprofit tech market by forming Technology for Social Impact (TSI), a division of Microsoft Philanthropies. This group is responsible for adapting the strength of Microsoft’s core commercial solutions to effectively meet the needs of nonprofits.
Given Microsoft’s unrivaled scale and brand presence in the commercial sector, we at Heller Consulting recognized the massive potential for nonprofits. That’s why Team Heller has participated as advisors at some TSI Advisory Steering Team meetings.
One thing we quickly learned from our involvement with TSI is that they had (and still have) substantial plans for their Microsoft Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator. Microsoft’s Nonprofit Accelerator builds on the platform agnostic Common Data Model (CDM) for Nonprofits . We could write a lot about the Nonprofit Accelerator and CDM for Nonprofits, but here’s the key point: The introduction of the Nonprofit Accelerator two years ago made it easier for Microsoft partners to develop solutions for nonprofits that are built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform and easily work with other Microsoft products. Since the CDM was developed in partnership with nonprofits and technology vendors in the market, anyone can build solutions based on this data schema, resulting in easier integrations of point solutions with the Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Update: In December 2020, the Nonprofit Accelerator was completely decoupled from Dynamics 365, and can be used with any Microsoft tool or product, as well as with other solutions.
In September 2019, Microsoft launched the Microsoft 365 Business for Nonprofits, Microsoft Digital Skills Centre for Nonprofits and Microsoft Nonprofits Operations Toolkit build on Teams. Microsoft’s research found that small nonprofits are at the highest risk of being left behind in a digital world and 60% nonprofits do not have appropriate policies to manage digital cybersecurity risk. Looking to support the important work of these organizations around the world, Microsoft introduce three important tools:
Microsoft and their partners have been developing enhanced technology offerings to support nonprofits.
Using the Nonprofit CDM as a foundation, along with Dynamics 365, Azure and Teams, Microsoft partner Wipfli built a volunteer management system to leverage the skills of Team Rubicon’s 80,000 volunteers and allow for more faster more effective deployment of volunteers and equipment in response to disasters.
As a Microsoft Partner with a background in developing on Microsoft technology in the commercial sector, MISSION CRM began developing an application on Microsoft Dynamics 365 focused on fundraising and development.
Within a year, the Heller Consulting team began working with the MISSION CRM team. We shared knowledge from our deep experience in fundraising strategies, operations, and solutions to help inform the development of key aspects of the solution.
This year, Microsoft launched Fundraising and Engagement for Dynamics 365 Sales — a Microsoft solution built with MISSION CRM that has nonprofit-specific capabilities and offers benefits from the full stack of Microsoft technology. Out of the box, the solution offers immediate access to real-time information about loyal donors and prospects so you can engage them in a personalized way.
The Heller Consulting team plans to continue working with the Fundraising and 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.
The Microsoft Nonprofit Data Warehouse Quickstart offers nonprofits a script-to-deploy data warehouse that leverages Azure and connects into the Nonprofit Common Data Model, with the goal of helping nonprofits modernize their data estate by leveraging Azure.
Microsoft TechSpark partners with local organizations working to ensure that as technology evolves, people are not left behind. TechSpark works with nonprofits and other community organizations to ensure that that people can obtain new skills and are employable, and that organizations have the resources to benefit from the digital economy.
As part of its work towards social justice, Microsoft offers the Nonprofit Tech Acceleration for Black and African American Communities. US nonprofits serving Black and African American communities can benefit from an Onboarding Concierge team that will match your organization with the technical software and services that can help modernize and streamline your technical operations and increase the impact of your mission.
The Azure Foundation for Nonprofits helps nonprofits with limited budgets accelerate their cloud adoption by offering guidance, tools and templates that address the most common nonprofit scenarios.
Microsoft continued its history of support of the nonprofit community when it announced a number of measures specifically designed to help frontline nonprofits, critical care and COVID-19 research organizations that will help free up scarce resources, support remote work and training, and enable organizations to securely utilize data analysis in their COVID-19 response.
As Microsoft continues their work in the nonprofit sector, we will continue to watch and work with them. By keeping a close eye on the nonprofit technology space, we’re ready to help you understand the landscape, determine the best technology options for your organization, and implement and support the solutions you choose. Contact us today to find out more and get started.