If you run a non-profit or charitable organisation, you will need to make savings wherever possible. You will always find yourself needing to communicate with your workforce, your clients, your volunteers, fundraisers, and other external parties. This can result in expensive out-of-office trips or high telephone bills, but in the digital age why not explore the many benefits of a client extranet instead?
What is an extranet?
A client extranet is a form of network that allows information to be shared across a digital workplace, via a web portal. This means that you could be anywhere in the world and still share information with selected parties such as customers, benefactors, and external business partners.
Extranets are widely used these days across many different industry sectors, as well as by non-profits and charitable organisations as a very effective means of sharing information. An extranet is a secure environment where you can distribute information and access it too, far more efficiently than through traditional means such as video conferencing or face-to-face meetings. Through the creation of a secure online environment, those invited can view and access the centrally stored information contained within it. Even organisations with very limited office space or those which are actually home-based can benefit from an extranet that is hosted in the Cloud.
So, what’s so great about a client extranet and why does your non-profit organisation need one?
Information sharing made simple
Although you can share files with outside parties via email, this can cause issues. Different document versions can quickly accumulate or be misfiled, leading to confusion and misunderstandings, and trawling through an overloaded inbox can be very time-consuming and counterproductive. There can also be issues when trying to download a particularly large file, which can lead to frustration and much time-consuming resending.
With an extranet, all the information that you require for each project you’re working on can be uploaded to the Cloud and neatly filed so that anyone accessing it can find what they need quickly and easily.
Keeping assets safe and secure
Another potential issue with sharing information via email is security. Information pertaining to your company projects, finances, and clients is highly confidential and lost emails could be potentially catastrophic for client confidence. Information stored on your central extranet will ensure that only a specified work group is able to access it. Each user has an individual password-protected log-in, ensuring that no-one else can gain access to your confidential documents. The Cloud is safe and secure, unlike emails that can be readily hacked or used to import malicious viruses or spyware.
Confidentiality is particularly important to non-profits and charities whose benefactors and supporters may wish their identity to be kept confidential.
Easy project management
A well-designed extranet allows internal staff and external third parties to collaborate easily, even those working from home or from very remote locations. If you have fundraisers or volunteers who are out on the road, they will be able to easily access all the tools and information that they need from a tablet, smartphone or other mobile device. Documents that are common to a project can be worked on simultaneously by all stakeholders, regardless of where they are. This easy collaboration negates the need for endless phone calls, emails, and meetings.
By their very nature, projects require task allocation and management, as well as working to deadlines. An extranet allows you to assign and manage given tasks, organise team members’ calendars, schedule conference calls, make announcements, gather feedback, and contribute to team discussions. This can make for much more efficiently run projects, often reducing timescales and budgets too. Every action that takes place within the extranet is stored historically, making it simple to keep track of all projects at any time.
Professional look and branding
A professional image and memorable brand are very important for all organisations, including charities and non-profits. You can have your extranet customised so that you can create a secure, branded environment that is completely white-labelled so that the technology appears as your own. This simple innovation can create a professional-looking environment that can be really important when securing benefactor and stakeholder commitment and confidence.
Simple set-up and maintenance
A company extranet is simple to set up and maintain. Once your chosen provider has installed the software and the basic platform is established, you will be trained how to use and update it. Your extranet will be easily customisable so that you can enter multiple projects or fundraising campaign plans to run simultaneously. Easy remote access also means that you can delegate tasks to employees with particular specialisms as and when you need to.
An extranet could be the ideal mechanism through which you could make valuable savings in terms of both finance and time for your non-profit or charitable organisation.
Download our free guides to learn more about intranet and extranet benefits