Cloud for good: a guide to AWS for Nonprofits

By Danny Aspinall

Cloud for good: a guide to AWS for Nonprofits

As society becomes increasingly digital, it’s safe to say that the future is in the cloud. This means digital transformations are about more than migrations—they’re also progressions in both industry and society as a whole.

AWS services can drive real societal change by supporting Nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to increase their impact and advance their mission. In fact, AWS is already helping tens of thousands of Nonprofits do exactly that.

Across its 200+ tools and services, AWS offer near limitless capability, empowering Nonprofits to be more and do more. Here we’re exploring how, diving deeper into what opportunities are available within AWS, and why Nonprofits can’t afford to miss out on them.

Why should Nonprofits use AWS?

Most Nonprofits are still battling the onslaught of challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic. With 75% of Nonprofit organizations being forced into budget cuts, there’s less time, money, and resources to hand, meaning progress has stagnated for many.

But with AWS, it doesn’t have to be this way. AWS’ extensive collection of tools and services boast a range of benefits that Nonprofits can unlock from day one to ensure their efforts go further.

Strengthen community services

AWS provide cost-effective, fully-managed, scalable and secure IT infrastructure. This helps Nonprofits build and optimize mission-critical applications that enhance the delivery of services and support. Whether supporting individuals or communities, AWS enables Nonprofits to strengthen their community services with greater capability and resources than ever before.

Enhance your research

g this data is often easier said than done (at least without a helping hand from AWS, that is). Luckily, research institutions worldwide are leveraging AWS to make data go further, from storing and analyzing huge data pipelines, to innovating advanced research with emerging transformative tech, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Nonprofits can even benefit from researchers provided by AWS with access to open datasets, as well as funding and training opportunities to enhance their data use further.

Accelerate your mission

While every Nonprofit will have a different mission statement, the ultimate goal is often the same: to make the world a better place. But from communities to societies, politics to economics, the world is rarely black and white, and so the execution of these missions often needs to evolve. This requires Nonprofits to operate on a platform that is agile, flexible, and can be deployed and scaled with ease. With AWS, Nonprofits find exactly that, helping to modernize delivery methods and ensure the longevity of their efforts.

Improve financial services

When dealing with large sums of money from donations, fundraising, and grants, it’s imperative that your financial services are up to the task. You need secure and resilient infrastructure that accommodates your financial requirements today, and supports your financial plans for the future.

Building on AWS ensures this, empowering Nonprofits to modernize their financial infrastructure and evolve with the behaviour and expectations of beneficiaries.

Narrow your focus

Running a Nonprofit or NGO isn’t easy—we don’t need to tell you that. AWS helps to alleviate the pressures of your usual day-to-day by taking care of all IT operations and infrastructure concerns, leaving you to focus on what matters most to you and your Nonprofit.

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Opportunities for Nonprofits with AWS

AWS provide a range of grants and mission empowerment programmes designed to help Nonprofits and NGOs of all shapes and sizes overcome adoption barriers and utilize AWS to its utmost potential. Here are some of the best on offer.

AWS Imagine Grant Program

The AWS Imagine Grant Program is a public grant opportunity open to registered 501(c) Nonprofits in the U.S. It’s intended to support Nonprofits who are using technology to address world issues, and can be worth up to $150,000.

The program is split into two award categories; each category offers Nonprofits something different in order to best support the organization and their goals.

The Go Further, Faster Award

This award is intended to provide support for highly innovative cloud projects that are working towards scalable, repeatable solutions that positively impact an industry or field. Nonprofits and NGOs working with or looking to integrate advanced cloud technologies like AI, ML, Internet of Things (IoT), and more could be eligible for the award, qualifying for a wide range of perks including:

  • Unrestricted financial support worth up to $150,000
  • AWS Promotional Credit worth up to $150,000
  • Implementation guidance from recognized AWS technical specialist(s)
  • AWS training services vouchers
  • AWS marketing promotional opportunities

The Momentum to Modernize Award

Digital transformations can require significant upfront investment, but with 83% of large and mid-sized Nonprofits experiencing a reduction in revenue following the pandemic, these funds aren’t always available. This means Nonprofits are missing out on the chance to enhance their core mission operations with cloud technology, and beneficiaries are missing out on all the perks that come with it.

Whether its migrating to the cloud or modernizing existing applications, The Momentum to Modernize Award funds and supports transformational digital infrastructure for Nonprofits not making the most of their technological potential.

Workloads and outcomes that meet program criteria cover a wide range of approaches, from application migration and optimization to data projects and infrastructure expansion. Eligible Nonprofits could be awarded:

  • Unrestricted financial support worth up to $30,000
  • AWS Promotional Credit worth up to $10,000
  • Project implementation guidance from AWS technical specialist(s)
  • AWS marketing promotional opportunities

Applications are closed for the 2022 awards, with the winners announced in December, but eligible Nonprofits can sign up for email updates to be the first to learn about the next program cycle.

AWS Nonprofit Credit Program

The AWS Nonprofit Credit Program provides eligible Nonprofits access to $1,000 in AWS Promotional Credits.

These credits can be used by Nonprofits across AWS’ extensive on-demand and pay-as-you-go services, from computing power and storage to database and advanced computing, to discount the costs of migration and cloud implementation. This means Nonprofits and NGOs can meet mission goals faster and easier, without the need for significant upfront investment in digital infrastructure.

The AWS Nonprofit Credit Program is available worldwide to any Nonprofts with 501c3 designation. Eligible organizations can claim $1,000 in AWS Promotional Credits each fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), and credits are valid for 12 months, or until the value is spent.

Qualifying Nonprofits can access $1000 of AWS credits here—these credits are free, but you will be charged an admin fee.

AWS Nonprofit Technical Hub

The AWS Nonprofit Technical Hub sets out to support Nonprofits and NGOs first starting out their cloud journey, or those developing new digital strategies for mission delivery. It helps relevant organizations to identify upskill opportunities and advises them on how best to leverage AWS solutions in order to maximize reach and impact.

Amazon Research Awards

The Amazon Research Awards (ARA) is a specialist program developed in collaboration with scientists to fund research, knowledge sharing, and innovation opportunities.

Eligible Nonprofits will be awarded unrestricted funds and AWS Promotional Credit for a year, intended to support advanced research in areas that accelerate ground-breaking science.

A full list of eligibility criteria can be found here.

AWS Disaster Response

Nonprofits and NGOs are often on the front lines, meaning it’s vital that these organizations can remain agile, mobile and responsive.

The AWS Disaster Response Action Team enables these front-line Nonprofits to focus on mission-critical functions in times of crisis. They provide crucial data and applications, transport hardware to operation bases, and deploy infrastructure based on the unique demands of the situation.

Examples of how AWS Disaster Response support Nonprofits on the front line include:

  • Rebuilding connectivity: Disasters can wreak havoc on physical infrastructure, damaging or even destroying telecommunication networks, and these lines of communication are critical to operational planning and execution. The AWS Disaster Response Action Team consists of technical volunteers who can be deployed to help restore local connectivity in a range of harsh environments.
  • Mapping disaster responses: AWS Disaster Response overhauls traditional disaster mapping to radically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of these efforts. By leveraging cloud technology at the edge, the AWS Disaster Response Action Team are able to complete tasks locally and direct resource even in environments with connectivity disruption, empowering responders to implement innovative methods of disaster mapping.
  • Enhancing data use: Data is essential to successful disaster response. You need the right information to hand to make critical decisions, and this data needs to be accessible and easily comprehensible. Data can be made openly available with AWS, and AWS Disaster Response can help Nonprofits to find software solutions that improve preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities.

Open Data on AWS

Data is invaluable to the modern organization, and when it comes to Nonprofits, it’s no different.

Data can be shared on AWS through the Open Data program, enabling users to analyze data sets and build on top of them using an insightful collection of compute and data analytic tools.

This all amounts to spending more time on data analysis and less time on data acquisition, meaning faster insights and quicker, more effective solutions.

Qualifying Nonprofits can even benefit from the Open Data Sponsorship Program, which covers any data storage costs for high-value, cloud-optimized data sets. Eligible organizations are those looking to:

  • Democratize access to data on AWS
  • Develop new cloud-native data techniques, formats, and tools
  • Encourage community development using data

Data Lake

AWS have partnered with Salesforce to produce a new open-source technology specifically designed to assist Nonprofits in maximizing their impact.

“As nonprofits transitioned to digital-first models over the past couple of years, they started generating far more data,” explains David Ragones, SVP & GM of Nonprofit Cloud at Salesforce.

“This data holds enormous potential for nonprofits, whether for fundraising, community building, or identifying where their work is making the most impact.”

Yet despite this, over three-quarters (76%) of Nonprofits currently lack a data strategy. That’s why Amazon and Salesforce have collaborated on Data Lake, specifically designed to help organizations leverage their Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud data and create a visually stimulating dashboard that informs better decisions and drives better outcomes.

AWS Nonprofit Competency Partners

Nonprofits can also benefit from the extensive AWS partner network by seeking the assistance of AWS Nonprofit Competency Partners. These are partners that can help Nonprofits quickly and securely leverage cloud technology and AWS solutions to support fundraising efforts and mission delivery.

AWS Nonprofit Competency Partners specialize in one of two areas:

  • Donor management and marketing tools: Cloud solutions that provide Nonprofits with a better understanding of their network of donors and volunteers.
  • Fundraising and operations tools: Cloud solutions that provide Nonprofits with market-leading tools for tracking and managing incoming finances.

AWS pricing for Nonprofits

There’s no set pricing or discount on AWS for Nonprofits—your total cost will depend on which services you use and how much you use them.

However, eligible Nonprofits should ensure they’re claiming $1000 worth of annual credit through the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program to minimize any costs incurred. That’s not forgetting exploring the other mission empowerment programs and grant opportunities potentially available to you—these could result in a significant discount on your overall spend.

Ready to make the leap?

If you’re a Nonprofit or NGO about to make the leap into AWS, there’s a few different areas for you to explore.

Start by using the AWS Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART) to assess how prepared you are for the move, and begin developing efficient and effective cloud adoption plans.

Next, we recommend exploring some of the many sessions from the recent IMAGINE: Nonprofit conference hosted by AWS. Many of the talks are available to watch on demand, including this handy session for Nonprofits new to the cloud: design a roadmap for your nonprofit cloud journey with AWS.

Finally, you’ll need the specialist talent to put your plans into action, which is where we come in. To ensure your Nonprofit or NGO is maximizing its potential, submit a job brief today, and in as little as 48 hours we’ll pair you with the AWS professionals you need. Together, we can make a positive change not just in your organization, but in communities across the globe.

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