Nonprofit organizations, no matter what their size, are like many small businesses. Under capitalized and committed to keeping overheads to a minimum, they often rely on the kindness of philanthropy to acquire and maintain even vital infrastructure items like computer systems. Portland, Oregon-based Molly’s Fund, an emerging charity dedicated to fighting the debilitating autoimmune disease, Lupus, is a good example of this phenomenon.

Having survived through years as a home-based enterprise hosted by its founder and Lupus survivor, Molly McCabe, the Fund recently moved into leased office space. In addition to doing effective outreach programs and fundraising events, the Molly’s Fund team is still focused on ways to thrive without big budgets. One key aspect of their operation that is making a difference in this aspect, according to Executive Director David Szyplinski, is information technology.

Szyplinski recently shared the thinking behind his organization’s migration to the cloud and Microsoft Office 365, and the difference it has made.

“Of course we want as much of our supporters’ donations as possible go to programs that help the cause,” he explained, “So we are always looking for ways to economize.” The Molly’s Fund team now includes seven staff and several remote volunteer support groups bringing the number of official “end users” of the organization’s data and communications to about 20.

The devices involved include desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Yet, thousands of donor and prospect records are securely maintained. It is the highly integrated Microsoft Cloud software that ties it all together.

Just before Szyplinski joined Molly’s Fund in 2011, they were using on-premises servers. “That involved a lot of maintenance,” he explained. “It seemed like someone was in here every week fixing something. Downtime was a problem. When the option to go to a cloud-based environment was presented by KAMIND, we were highly motivated to take advantage of it – especially with the highly discounted subscription rates available to nonprofits from Microsoft. From the first day on the cloud, the access and downtime problems have disappeared.”

A little more than three years since the migration, Szyplinski says his team is enjoying other benefits of Office 365 as well. For example, they’ve hired a full time digital marketing person who is on the website constantly posting news, updating resources and keeping that channel fresh. As a social organization, Molly’s Fund makes the most out of their website, www.mollysfund.org, as a focal point for interaction with donors, medical collaborators and others.

“Every one of our team members has important items to add to the site week after week. It is essential that they are able to do this, and the cloud-based system we have now makes it possible. In effect, our website is has become a living, breathing thing; always changing. It is one of our strengths.”

According to Szyplinski, the almost universal scourge of online computer users everywhere, unwanted pop-ups, has been remedied as well.

“Matt Katzer of KAMIND set it up so that the most annoying incoming distractions are filtered into junk –or somewhere. The junk, of course, can be checked from time to time so we can confirm that something important hasn’t been missed, but spam now very rarely shows up in our email boxes –or elsewhere.”

Asked if data security was consideration for the Molly’s Fund operation when going to the cloud, Szyplinski said that it was not an issue at the time. He noted, however, that the organization’s website had been hacked once, and that basic features of Office 365 enabled a return to normal operations within minutes.

“I admit to being what most would call ‘technically challenged,’ and I was a bit concerned when we relocated to our current offices. I was picturing loose wires everywhere for weeks, but because we are cloud based, each device carries its own inter-connectivity. Basically, we closed up shop one day and re-opened in another place the next without missing a beat. KAMIND was here to help, but it seemed like it only took minutes.”

Szyplinski could not resist the opportunity to mention another important item – one that will take more than a few minutes to fix, Lupus: “Lupus affects 1.5 million Americans; about 90 percent are women. 16,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. Living a full life is possible after diagnosis—with early detection and consistent treatment. So far, there is no cure. For that we are optimistically waiting.”