Amazon AWS and Other Resources for NGO’s and Nonprofits

NGOs and Nonprofits looking to get some additional aid for their organization can do so through Amazon Web Services. Here’s some information about Amazon Web Services for NGOs and Nonprofits including data about signing up, what the various services are, and how they can help you grow your Nonprofit and perform your mission.

AWS Overview

AWS for Nonprofits is used by many different organizations such as PBS, Change.org and the National Democratic Institute. There are more than 22,000 organizations benefitting from it currently. Some of the benefits involved include AWS Credits for Nonprofits, Amazon Smile, and other related programs. Different types of these services will benefit different types of organizations, so it’s worth checking out the full potential products and package services on Amazon before you commit to other sites since the Amazon approach may be better suited to what you need then what other places have.

Amazon Web Services Credits Programs for Nonprofits

This program works through the organization Tech Soup, and once you’re in the program, you can use the credits you’re given to mitigate usage fees for Amazon services on the cloud. This includes getting help with computing power, storage, delivering your content and other options as well. There are exceptions, however. For example, you’re not allowed to buy domains through Route53, and you can’t spend the credits on fees for a few other places like Mechanical Turk or Reserved Instances.

This is usually $2000 in credits if you’re a 501(c3) organization. Besides the exceptions, any on-demand service that works through Amazon is something you can use with these credits. And obviously, you can still purchase the other services for the monthly fee if you want.

AWS and Its Possible Use for Your Organization

Many nonprofits start out very small, so it’s not possible for you to make the huge purchases in hardware that are often required to get a fast growing organization started. This upfront cost is often needed to handle your setup, but the cost of doing so plus what you would need for maintaining it, upgrading the firmware, having staff who understand it and so on, is obviated when you get access to this grant.

You can instead just use the credits to gain access to the ability to store vast amounts of information including data on whatever issue you’re trying to solve, supports names, contact information and other info about them, and anything else you might need to store. It could also include running analysis on this data, and the ability to benefit from Amazon’s huge security umbrella. Using the credits to gain processing power of whatever type you need is a big advantage.

Amazon Free Tier

Another option for organizations that qualify includes the fact that you have an extra tier called the “Amazon Free Tier” this is like a trial version of the AWS Credits program. Essentially, it allows you to get 12 free months of Amazon services. This includes 750 free hours of Amazon EC2 computing ability per month, 5 GB of free Amazon S3 storage per month, hundreds of hours for database storage including options like MySQL, Oracle BYOL and others, as well as a million free requests for the automation service AWS Lambda per month, a gigabyte on Amazon QuickSight which allows efficient analytics, and other products besides. Some of them expire in a year, and others just keep going on after you open up the tier so that you’ll get the benefits of them long term regardless of the outcome of the grant application.

The recommendation is that if you’re thinking about applying for the AWS for Nonprofits grant, that you should try out the Free Tier year-long trial first. This way, you’ll get a good sense of whether it’s going to be a good fit for you or not before you go fully into the grant application.

You can make an AWS account without applying though, and this will give you the Free Tier automatically. The site also recommends that you check out the AWS tutorials on the AWS page to get a sense of how everything works in general, and potentially how they will work for your particular organization in specific.

Amazon Smile for Nonprofit Donation

Another service Amazon provides that you can join as a Nonprofit is called “Amazon Smile.” This means that people who want to donate to your organization can add “Smile” before the “Amazon” in the Amazon.com website to donate part of the cost of the items they buy to your organization. This makes you an affiliate of Amazon more or less for free. Supporters can select you from a list as long as you’re listed as a Nonprofit.

The site will then show customers how much they’ve donated to your organization simply by buying products. This is usually around 0.5 percent. If you’re already set up as a charitable organization, you just have to click on the “Register Now” button at the Amazon Smile Org Central Page. Then, you find the EIN number related to your organization.

The service will want you to create an admin account for the organization, sign some agreements, do some email verification, add your organization’s bank information and some other verification processes to confirm that you are who you say you are such as through bank statements. After that, supporters can select what your organization from the list, and you can start getting a passive income for your organization through the purchases of supporters.

At this point, the key is going to be to make sure that you inform your supporters that they have the option to support you in this way. This is because you know that they may not know about it otherwise. It won’t cost them anything extra, and it could help boost your income which you can put to good use.

It’s worth noting that if you’re listed by the company Guidestar, your organization will still show up in the list of charitable organizations people can donate to through the Amazon Smile program, but you won’t receive any of the funds until you register, obviously, since they won’t be able to send money to your bank account without the account information.

Other Considerations

You can join a meeting on the third Wednesday of every month to get more information on the services in an audio meeting. There are other restrictions on Amazon nonprofit and NGO programs. For example, you’re not supposed to promote AmazonSmile using anything physical like a newsletter you print or flyers or mailers you send out to people. You’re supposed to only use online approaches to this. There are also other restrictions on emails in particular states. You can check the Org Amazon site for a list of these states. If your organization is headquartered in one of them, then it means that you aren’t allowed to send out unsolicited emails or email newsletters about AmazonSmile exclusively. You can still add it in if your email is about something else as well, however.

For more information about nonprofits and the potential free programs you can use out there to help grow your organization through cloud services and other solutions, please make sure you contact us today.

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Jennifer Cooley

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