Ryan Duclos posted a blog about Microsoft’s new offers to Non-profits to let them use email, hosted public sites, hosted intranets, online storage, and office apps. After some thought, I believe this can have a real impact. Take a group near and dear to my heart, Teton Valley Ski Education Foundation (TVSEF). TVSEF’s purpose is to introduce kids to all kinds of fun on the snow in a safe and affordable way. They rely heavily on volunteers, coaches with minimum amounts of pay, and, generous business contributions, and a shoe string budget. At the same time, planning for a ski season, getting the word out, lining up coaches, and fund raising take a lot of coordination. Currently we do that using a wide range of tools which can cause some confusion. We pay a hosting service, we use a couple different tools for web sites. We share some files via Google Drive and a lot more files via email. Only a few people can have email addresses so it’s hard to give coaches their own. We also worry about saving key files with a backup.
It’s not the best system but you make it work. However, with Microsoft’s offer to donate key cloud based tools in Office 365, new options open up. Let me offer up a couple use cases.
Using the email offer, we can now give everyone who needs an email address access to it. It’s also possible to create groups for email distribution lists, announcements to the various groups like Nordic, Apline, Snowboarding, and Freestyle.
Common tools and one location for saving files
As you can imagine, we create a lot of documents. We have to budget for the different programs and figure out how to cut the costs as much as possible. We have to plan fundraisers. We have to take notes on fund raising ideas. We lost track of what’s happening as various people do the planning for the different programs. Not everyone has access to the same spreadsheet and word processing software. Using Office 365 and SkyDrive, we can store all the files in one location and not run into problems in editing it. Frankly, this may be the best part.
We currently host a simple site with a hosting service and pay them a monthly fee. It’s not a huge amount but even a small decrease in costs translates a decrease in any fees we have to charge or an increase in our ability to give scholarships to kids who need it.
With practices at different locations, races, fund raising events, coaching training, parent training, and coach appreciation dinners, we have a lot going on. One common calendar can help cut down on the confusion.
I’m kind of excited about this and have already talked to our director about getting qualified and starting to use it. Three cheers for Microsofts generous offer.