Tag Archives: survey

NGOs are using the cloud – but there are barriers

(by Patrick Duggan, TechSoup Marketing & Technology Writer; original post here)

In 2012, TechSoup Global, in collaboration with our partners around the world, conducted a survey of nonprofits, charities, NGOs, and social benefit organizations around the globe.

We wanted to better understand the current state of their technology infrastructure and their future plans for adopting cloud technologies.

With more than 10,500 respondents in 88 countries, we’re pleased to add this data to our ever-evolving resources for nonprofits, NGOs, foundations, and those who support them.

What Did We Find?

NGOs are using the cloud. 90 percent of respondents worldwide indicated using some type of cloud technology, from “lightweight” services like email and social networking to “heavy weight” services like databases and web conferencing.

There are barriers. Our survey found that lack of knowledge is the biggest barrier to additional cloud adoption, cited by 86 percent of the global respondents. Lack of knowledge was consistently reported as a barrier across geographies and organization sizes.

We also found that:

  • 79 percent of respondents said the biggest advantage in adopting cloud technologies is administration-related, followed by cost savings and improved opportunities for collaboration.
  • 53 percent of respondents reported they plan to move a significant portion of their infrastructure to cloud-based systems and services over the next few years.

How does your NGO compare? In the report, we examined what cloud applications NGOs are currently using and plan to use in the future, on a global and regional level.

If you’re wondering if your fellow organizations are using cloud-based tools like office and accounting programs and collaboration software, our report has the answers.

And more! Read more about our key findings. Learn about the current state of cloud computing at NGOs around the world, what these organizations see as the challenges and advantages of cloud technology, and how your own organization’s technology stacks up.


Read the Report 

Why We Conducted the Survey

We had three objectives in mind when we conducted this survey:

  • Gauge how NGOs are responding to cloud computing in terms of current use
  • Measure what NGOs perceive as the barriers to, and advantages of, cloud computing
  • Better understand these organizations’ plans for adopting cloud technologies

In short, our hope is that understanding NGOs’ perspectives on the cloud will not only provide insights for NGOs but will also help TechSoup Global and others better support nonprofits and NGOs in making informed decisions about whether cloud solutions are right for them.


Also see these results of survey regarding volunteer management software.

Managers of volunteers love spreadsheets

In a recent survey of nonprofits, NGOs, and other mission-based organizations regarding the online tools they use to support volunteers and track their information, Rob Jackson and I found that:

  • the most-used tool reported tool used by those surveyed to track and manage volunteers was spreadsheets – that could be Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice, GoogleDocs, or any other  spreadsheet program

The results of the survey are here (in PDF). Rob and I didn’t ask what these organizations were using spreadsheets for, specifically. I would guess:

  • to more easily produce graphs/charts with data generated with the volunteer management software
  • to more easily produce some kind of report (a list of volunteers that will attend an event on Sunday, with their full and last names, email and phone number)

It’s something that software designers need to consider: software needs to at least export selected data easily into a format that can be read by a spreadsheet.

Here’s a question I wished we’d ask on this survey:

What does software – whether on computers or your smart phone – allow you to do now regarding supporting and tracking volunteers, that is absolutely fabulous: how does it save your organization money, how does it help you be more responsive to volunteers, how does it free up your time to do other things (and what are those other things you do?), how does it help you show volunteer impact, and on and on.

So – why not answer that question now over on TechSoup?!

Be sure to say what software you use, whether it’s a specific volunteer management software or a spreadsheet (Excel, Google Docs, OpenOffice, whatever).

You have to register in order to be able to post to the TechSoup community, but registration is free, and it will allow you to

Results of survey re volunteer management software

At last! The results of the survey of volunteer management software launched by Rob Jackson (robjacksonconsulting.com) and Jayne Cravens (coyotecommunications.com) — ME — are compiled and ready for release!

In March and April 2012, Rob and I drafted and circulated a survey regarding software used to manage volunteer information. The purpose of the survey was to gather some basic data that might help organizations that involve volunteers to make better-informed decisions when choosing software, and to help software designers to understand the needs of those organizations. We also wanted to get a sense of what organizations were thinking about volunteer management software.

At long last, we’re publishing the results of the survey here (in PDF). It includes an executive summary of our findings, as well as the complete responses to questions and our analysis of such. Rob and I did not have time to analyze all of the comments made in answer to some questions; for all questions, we listed the comments made, but we did not always offer any observations about such, or group the responses into categories.

We welcome the efforts of other researchers to offer their own analysis of the data provided.

Software companies and designers: you can learn a LOT from this report to improve your products and your communications with customers!

Have a comment about the survey? Offer it below, or via UKVPMs.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey!


Survey for organizations hosting international volunteers

My colleague Erin Barnhart needs to hear from you if your organization recruits/places/hosts volunteers from other countries. This research is NOT limited to organizations in any one country:

Does your organization partner with one or more host organizations to engage international volunteers? If so, I hope you will consider inviting them to participate in a survey I am conducting as part of my dissertation research at Portland State University. The purpose of this survey is to collect information that will help the field of international service garner a better understanding of how and why organizations host international volunteers. 

The survey is confidential, consists of 22 questions and should take about 15 minutes to complete. To learn more about the survey and to take it: http://volunteerstudy.questionpro.com

Please note that this study is of organizations that host international volunteers rather than volunteer-sending organizations; if your organization is involved in international service but does not physically host them, please consider forwarding the survey link to partner host organizations.

Also, this study is for nonprofit/nongovernmental organizations and government agencies that are not located in the USA; again, if your organization is in the USA and sends volunteers overseas, please forward the survey link to your partner host organizations.

To complete the survey, your organization should focus on, do work in, or seek to address one or more of the following cause, issue, or problem areas: Agriculture, Arts, Community Development, Disability Issues, Economic Development, Education, Environment, Family, Health and Medicine, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, International Cooperation, International Relations, Philanthropy, Poverty and Hunger, Rural Issues, Technology, Volunteering, Women, or Youth.

Forward this message to international service colleagues, fellow organizations, and networks!

When Erin has finished her research, she will share survey results online (of course I’ll be linking to that from this blog!).

Australian volunteers growing preference for online volunteering

ProBono Australia reports that a new study finds Australian volunteers have a growing preference for online volunteering, more young people want to get involved, and there is an increasing interest in short term or project based volunteering. The study, commissioned as part of the country’s National Volunteering Strategy Consultation, polled more than 800 volunteering groups and found that traditional forms of volunteering remain popular, but new forms of participation are emerging and needed to be accommodated.

Hmmmm…. this sounds like what myself and some other volunteer management consultants have been saying since, oh, 1996?! These trends have been happing for a while now, in several countries. But we can never have enough reports like this, as so many people – and funders – seem to remain unconvinced.

Among the things I was very happy to see from the report:

  • one of the many things needed to help embrace these emerging trends is addressing the various costs associated with volunteering, both for volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations, which can be significant barriers to participation. Yes, that’s right: volunteering is STILL not free!
  • the affirmation that effective volunteer management helps improve the efficiency of organisations and increases their capacity to comply with and implement risk management strategies needed for successful volunteer engagement.
  • the affirmation that information technology, especially the internet, can be better harnessed by volunteer-involving organisations to make participation in volunteering more accessible.

Organizations that involve volunteers need to accommodate and encourage these emerging trends while continuing to cater for traditional forms of volunteer participation. It’s my long-held contention that embracing these trends will vastly improve the experience for traditional volunteers (people who volunteer long-term). They will also, ultimately, help managers of volunteers be better supporters of volunteers. Everybody wins!

I presented on these trends last year during three weeks of intensive workshops with volunteer managers in Australia (thanks again, Martin Cowling of People First – Total Solutions and Andy Cowling of OzVPM and both of Australia, for all you did to make that happen). Given the responses in this report, I suspect some of the workshop attendees, as well as those who were a part of the Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management that year, were contributors. That’s not me trying to take credit for what’s in the report; that’s me lauding Australian volunteer managers for being so aware of what’s happening in their sector.

ProBono Australia provides an excellent summary of the report. The report will inform the National Volunteering Strategy, which the Government plans to release later in 2011. The strategy is expected to outline the Government’s vision for volunteering over the next 10 years and will provide a framework which encourages volunteering. You can download the full report as well.