Lately, it may seem like the cloud is all you hear about. It’s a buzzword uttered so frequently it has almost lost its meaning. At conferences and in the blogosphere, nonprofit professionals are talking about moving grant management or donation management into the cloud. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it can be confusing, and when you don’t know exactly what people are talking about, you may tune out. Here’s why you should pay attention: Adopting cloud storage can totally transform the way you operate for the better.

What is the cloud?

What does it mean? Essentially, cloud storage is Internet-based, using the software as a service. This means the entire platform is online and generally accessible from anywhere you can connect to the Web. As PC Mag puts it, cloud computing allows you to store larger amounts of data without burdening your hard drive or local server. This means it’s scalable and offers greater flexibility than hosted platforms. According to Nonprofit Technology Network, cloud-based software is generally more adaptable than hosted software, allowing you to adjust as your organization changes.

What does this mean for you?

Think about how you’re managing the grant review process now. You’re probably using a lot of spreadsheets and databases. Overall, it’s likely less than efficient. Data is siloed in different areas, and it’s difficult to draw information from one source into another. While this can make it difficult to move through the grant management process quickly, it creates additional difficulties. For instance, it can be extremely hard to see the big picture of how the organization is processing through the grant management procedures. If you’re on the review board, you probably want to know what step your colleagues have reached in looking over grant applications. When you’re using spreadsheets and databases, this kind of visibility is hard to achieve.

Then, think about the reporting process. Right now, this is probably a gigantic headache. A grant management platform can store all the data about the funds you’ve distributed and deliver it using intuitive visual charts and graphs.

Take a step back

When you’ve been doing things using your current systems for long enough, it can be difficult to see how change could do any good. However, with grant management systems, you can effectively combine most of the software platforms you already use into one. As Nonprofit Technology Network notes, multiple data platforms may be efficient individually, but taken as a whole, they probably aren’t. Instead of running several programs, you could have one that offers the same capabilities. When a platform is designed with all these operations in mind, it’s much more efficient, because it’s created to allow for transparency and communication between different areas. Rather than shuffling between databases or spreadsheets, you can log in to a user-friendly interface that contains everything you need in one spot.

These are just a few reasons why the nonprofit sphere can’t stop talking about the cloud, and why your organization should take another look at software-as-a-service platforms.