Into the Cloud for Non-Profits! Learn the Best Practices to Share Projects and Documents

Jun 29, 2012

Today’s article is written by HandsOn Tech AmeriCorps members John Jarvis, Melissa Reynolds, and Diana Bui, from the HandsOn Atlanta office.  This article was first published in the evolve newsletter and has been published on the Learn It Live Blog.

More and more, our lives and our work are moving to the Internet. We have our files, our mail, our news, our photos, and even our social networks, all on the Internet. Work within the office is no exception. Professional teams are currently taking advantage of the many collaborative tools available through cloud computing. By using cloud computing tools, you can become more efficient and productive not only as a professional, but also as a volunteer manager.

Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably already using cloud computing tools.  Essentially the whole concept of “the cloud” is simply the Internet rebranded. Web mail services like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo are three prime examples of popular cloud tools; we just don’t think of these services in those terms.

Cloud computing is having every piece of data you need at your fingertips and ready for use. This data is mobile, shareable, and instantly accessible. The appeal to this kind of productivity with cloud computing is the ability to sync your data among all your computers, mobile devices, as well as to access shared data. One of the most robust and popular set of collaborative tools available is Google Docs.

By using Google Docs, your team can take advantage of three key features of cloud computing: File Sharing, Mobility and Security.

File Sharing

With Google Docs, you can easily share typical office documents (spreadsheets, presentations, etc) with every member of your team. Additionally, everyone can jump in and make edits to these documents at the same time. This method eliminates back-and-forth email attachments and multiple versions that can be hard to keep track of.


With all of your documents stored “in the cloud,” you can access your work from any device with a Web browser – your computer, phone or tablet – and stay productive even when you’re away from the office. Maybe you need to edit a spreadsheet while at the airport waiting for a flight? Or respond to an email from a hotel business center computer? These kind of cloud computing solutions make it easy to stay connected to projects you’re working on with your team, no matter where you are or what device you’re using.

With these tools you can also work with your colleagues as if you’re in the same room while you’re away. Arrange an impromptu video chat from your Gmail inbox or jump into the same document and edit it together as if you’re sitting at the same computer.


It may seem ambiguous to say your data is stored “in the cloud.” It is actually stored across many large facilities known as data centers. Should a critical accident happen – if your computer crashes or is stolen – your files are secure at this offsite location and are always available from a different computer.

Google also offers an extra security feature in the form of data encryption. Through this, your critical and sensitive data is protected from the risk of hackers and other digital thieves.

So, in considering Business Cloud Computing Services, remember:

File Sharing

• Allows you to work with multiple colleagues on the same document, at the same time

• Eliminates file duplication

• Automatically tracks edits to a document


• Allows you to access your files from any computer, including your phone or tablet

• Connects remotely via simple, and free, video-conferencing


• Ensures that your work is always backed up

• Increases reliability

• Provides strong encryption

To learn more about the best technological practices for nonprofits, register for the following events: 

To check out and register for our other training Webinars, go to HandsOn University’s classes and events page.

HandsOn Tech seeks to develop the nonprofit sector’s effective use of technology to increase community resources and improve outcomes for low-income communities and families.