Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Power Platform 101 for nonprofits

Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Power Platform 101 for nonprofits

Different nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have different advocacies OR causes, but they do have some functions in common. These functions include:

  • Fundraising – Get grants and donations that will fund the activities of the organization
  • Volunteer recruitment and training – Enroll like-minded individuals to one’s cause and instill skills such as community engagement or counseling
  • Operations management – Oversee and direct staff on the ground to accomplish project objectives
  • Research and monitoring – Determine the needs of beneficiaries and track the impact of the NPO’s interventions
  • Finance management – Allocate funds appropriately across the entire organization and regularly provide audits for transparency and accountability

Given these particularities, Microsoft built tools that cater to the needs of NPOs and housed these under the Microsoft Dynamics and Power Platform. Let’s take a look at how each primary tool in this platform helps organizations fulfill their missions.

Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator

As its name suggests, the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator is a set of tools that help turn a nonprofit concept into a full-fledged organization. It consists of the following:

Common Data Model for nonprofits

It is not uncommon for agencies with shared goals to work alongside one another and share information and insights. However, using each other’s data can be difficult because of differences in collection methodologies, the assignment of values (i.e., what the data signifies), and other significant discrepancies. Furthermore, misalignments would also exist between NPOs’ existing data systems and the apps and platforms they want to use.

To solve these problems, Microsoft examined what nonprofits do in common and collated best practices with regard to data attributes, data entities, and relationships. Microsoft dubbed their collation as the Common Data Model for Nonprofits. This data translation tool effectively became the industry standard that NPOs subscribed to Dynamics 365 can use. To illustrate, organizations can now use third-party apps more easily because they can use the Common Data Model to better relate their data across those apps.

Thanks to its usefulness, this model has become the foundation upon which most of Microsoft’s other offerings for NPOs are built.

Partner starter applications

A total of 12 apps are provided to help NPOs create and implement innovative solutions to achieve their goals.

Interoperable data standards and open source on GitHub

Beyond the Common Data Model and partner starter apps are other data schema and apps that have been and continue to be informed and built by subject matter experts and industry thought leaders collaborating with one another. Open source on GitHub is what allows such innovations to continue to be delivered to NPOs.

Fundraising and Engagement for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales

Fundraising and Engagement for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales is an artificial intelligence-powered tool that allows NPOs to do the following:

  • Connect effectively with donors and volunteers – The tool suggests personalized courses of action that donor and volunteer managers can take to nudge their constituents toward a desired outcome. For example, the tool can suggest that a donor manager ask a benefactor to donate $5,000 based on the latter’s history of giving.
  • Automate necessary but time-consuming processes – Gift registry and data unification are just some of the processes that the tool can handle on its own. Other tasks, such as processing membership renewals, donor commitments, and donation receipts can be partially automated so that these take far less time than they normally would.
  • Obtain fiscal snapshots in real time – By using this tool, financial managers and fundraisers can provide transparent financial reporting and increased visibility into the sustainability of their programs without the need to do complicated fundraising and financial reconciliations.

Microsoft Power Platform

Apps are powerful platforms for enrolling newsletter subscribers, soliciting one-time or recurring donations, registering volunteers, inputting research data and monitoring findings, and viewing and generating all sorts of analytics reports. Years ago, such applications were exclusively built by highly skilled developers, but now, thanks to the Microsoft Power Platform, even non-developers can build apps, too.

Years ago, such applications were exclusively built by highly skilled developers, but now, thanks to the Microsoft Power Platform, even non-developers can build apps, too.

Not only can you customize your apps and automate processes with the Power Platform, but you can also easily deploy your apps as web apps (i.e., apps that are launched on a web browser) or as mobile apps on Android and iOS devices.

While the Power Platform is available for nonprofits and for-profits alike, Microsoft offers eligible nonprofits up to 10 free Power Apps licenses and discounted pricing for licenses beyond the tenth.

If your nonprofit is interested in using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, turn to our IT specialists at Online Computers. Contact us today — we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.


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