Engage Thousands of Volunteers with Office 365



Extranet User Manager recently published an eBook focused on the importance of having an established digital community for nonprofits and registered charities. A key focal point of this is to emphasize the importance of providing services to the external supporters who help you deliver on your mission as a nonprofit. Often, paid positions in charitable organizations are vastly outnumbered by the number of volunteers who assist externally to the core organization. Accordingly, those volunteers often do not have an email address or an account to access secure content that the organization should be publishing out to it's volunteer base. From our experience, if you want to activate your volunteers, establishing an online, secure community for them to access valuable content will give them a sense of belonging and will also drive further engagement.

Before determining how you will energize your volunteers, you need to ask yourself some questions:

  • What different roles do volunteers play to support your mission?
  • What tools and content should they have access to?
  • How large of a volunteer base does your organization have?
  • How much will this volunteer base continue to grow?

Once these questions are answered, you will have all the information you need to create an online community for your volunteers. With that in mind, you can think about:

  • Simplifying the on-boarding process
  • Optimizing the user experience
  • And taking a mobile-first approach

Being able to deliver a digital community that will ultimately drive volunteer engagement does not have to be something that you achieve on your own. Typically, with nonprofits, any revenue that is made is allocated towards delivering on your mission, and technology may not be a prime focus for the organization. Thankfully, Microsoft and Google have programs you can leverage to contribute to your cause.

Pending eligibility (check if you're eligible here), you can implement a cloud-based productivity platform by leveraging Microsoft's donated and discounted offers for Office 365. Additionally, there is $5,000 in Azure credits per year that cover most or all your hosting fees. To get Microsoft Office 365 for free, TechSoup has a step-by-step guide showing you exactly what to do to switch to donated or free plans.

Making it Real

With all this new information, it is important we make it real for you and show you a registered charity that has been able to better deliver on their mission, while empowering engagement of their volunteer base by leveraging Office 365. Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) has over 8,000 staff and volunteers at their 50+ member societies. They needed a portal to support their large external audience from these member societies to provide training and resources. As a registered charity in Canada, OACAS is entitled to unlimited Office 365 E1 licenses to support its members.

OACAS knows the societies they work with, but not the individual staff and volunteers. They needed a self-registration process that allowed these users to discover the portal and self-identify. Extranet User Manager (EUM) with Office 365 provides the governance and control over the external users OACAS requires. Rather than providing sign-on from a Microsoft branded page and with Microsoft credentials, EUM allows users to register and sign into the portal with their email address and a password that they manage. This digital community of multiple agencies has created a collaborative environment within OACAS for sharing documents with a wide variety of stakeholders in child welfare in Ontario. This has also been extended beyond Office 365 to Desire2Learn, which provides the Learning Management System for the users training. Single sign on provides a seamless experience across both of these systems.

Interested in this solution? Read the full case study here!

Additional Resources

Free eBook Download – Digital Community Survival Guide for Charities

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