Best Cloud Storage for Nonprofits in 2021: Quid Pro Quo

Charitable organizations are on the side of the angels, yet often do their work on a shoestring. Plenty of providers, though, offer their services at a discount or even completely free for NGOs and the like. We've put together a list to help you pick the best cloud storage for nonprofits.

Ben StocktonAleksandar Kochovski
By Ben Stockton & Aleksandar Kochovski (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-01-26T13:02:06+00:00

Working for a nonprofit is a tough but rewarding task. Cloud storage allows a nonprofit to store and access all of its data — some of which might be sensitive — without having to worry about buying and maintaining its own servers. Cloud storage for nonprofits also gives remote-working volunteers the same access to files as their office-based counterparts.

We’re going to talk through some of the best cloud storage for nonprofits, but if you want to find out the best backup solutions for organizations like these, don’t forget to first take a look at our best online backup for nonprofits roundup.

Key Takeaways:

  • Nonprofit organizations have unique needs when it comes to cloud storage, chief of which are cost, security and collaboration tools.
  • Google Drive is the best cloud service for nonprofit organizations, being offered for free as part of G Suite for Nonprofits.
  • The most secure cloud storage option for nonprofit organizations is IDrive, offering zero-knowledge encryption for users.

There are some great options out there that would suit any nonprofit organization, but Google Drive is our clear favorite. It offers excellent collaboration tools and has a free nonprofit version via G Suite for Nonprofits. It also offers healthy discounts for its expanded storage options, making it very affordable.

  • All things considered, Google Drive is the best option for nonprofits. It’s included for free in the G Suite for Nonprofits package, alongside other Google apps that can greatly benefit your nonprofit organization or NGO.

  • Yes, nonprofit organizations get access to G Suite free of charge, with additional storage coming at a heavily discounted price. However, keep in mind that G Suite is being replaced by Google Workspace, which doesn’t have a nonprofit version yet.

  1. 1
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
    15 GB - 30 TB
    $ 167
    Save 16 %
  2. 2
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
    100-Unlimited GB
    $ 500
    Save 29 %
  3. 3
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
  4. 4
    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
  5. 5
    5 GB - 12.5 TB
    $ 579

What Makes the Best Cloud Storage for Nonprofits?

We considered many cloud storage options for this list, but only a few provide specific benefits for nonprofits. Of course, many factors come into play when choosing the best cloud storage for nonprofits, and we’ll go over these factors in a bit. For now, let’s take a quick glance at the full list of cloud services for nonprofits.

  1. Google Drive — Free Google cloud storage for nonprofits
  2. Box — Respectable business cloud platform with free nonprofit cloud storage
  3. Dropbox Business — Plenty of third-party app integrations and discounted prices for nonprofits
  4. OneDrive for Business — Free online storage for nonprofit organizations
  5. IDrive — Cloud storage and online backup hybrid with a 50 percent discount for nonprofits

In our comparison, we gave the biggest advantage to providers that offered the greatest discounts for nonprofits. Some of these cloud storage providers even offer their services for free to nonprofits and NGOs.

As with any business cloud storage, collaboration and productivity tools are just as important as an affordable price. Tight integration with online collaboration tools gives some services an edge over others.

Finally, security can be a concern when it comes to sensitive business data. Zero-knowledge encryption is the gold standard in this area, though in most cases, it’s mutually exclusive with third-party app integrations. With that out of the way, let’s dive right into our number-one nonprofit cloud storage option: Google Drive.

1. Google Drive With G Suite for Nonprofits

G Suite nonprofits testimonials
G Suite helps charitable organizations by providing its services for free.

More details about Google Drive:

  • Pricing: 30GB free, 1TB per user for $4 per month per user
  • Provider website: drive.google.com

Pros:

  • 30GB of storage for free
  • Great integration with Google apps
  • Multiple storage options

Cons:

  • Limited storage on free tier
  • Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
  • Poor privacy policy

Huge tech companies like Google enjoy showing support for charitable organizations, and that support includes free access to Google’s collection of productivity apps and storage for nonprofit companies. The Google for Nonprofits program lets nonprofit organizations and NGOs use G Suite for free or at greatly reduced prices.

The G Suite package comes with Google Docs support, allowing your volunteers to work together on projects in real time. You can also share your files with others, thanks to public file sharing. These features help to make Google Drive one of the best cloud storage for multiple users, as well as one of the best cloud storage for sharing.

However, G Suite is on the way out, and it’s being replaced by Google Workspace. The new service brings added functionality and integration between its various apps but makes some changes to pricing. Thankfully, the G Suite for Nonprofits plans remain available for both new and current users, though a nonprofit version of Google Workspace is in the works.

With Google Drive for Nonprofits, you gain free use of Google Docs, an unlimited number of accounts as well as access to 30GB of Google Drive storage, which you can learn more about in our Google Drive review. If needed, up to 1TB of additional storage per user is available by upgrading to the nonprofit version of G Suite Business or G Suite Enterprise.

Plan:Storage:Price:
G Suite for Nonprofits30GB per userFree
G Suite Business for Nonprofits1TB per user$4 per month per user
G Suite Enterprise for Nonprofits1TB per user$8 per month per user

Google Drive App Integrations

Easily the biggest draw to Google Drive is its support for apps, and that includes both Google’s own homegrown and third-party apps. Drive users have free access to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides as well as any Google app you can imagine. With the Google Workspace Marketplace, those choices bring almost limitless functionality to Google Drive.

Permissions management is excellent, letting you set access levels for different users on a per-file basis, making it a great choice if you have a lot of users. Plus, there are sharing options aplenty, with multiple settings you can tweak to get the best file sharing experience.

2. Box

box charity donation
Box offers up to 10 free licences to NGOs and nonprofit companies.

More details about Box:

  • Pricing: 100GB per user free
  • Provider website: www.box.org

Pros:

  • Very cheap deals for nonprofits
  • Strong pedigree
  • Microsoft Office & Google integration

Cons:

  • Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
  • Admin fee for free accounts
  • Limited storage for free accounts

Box is built for businesses, which is why we rate it highly as one of the best cloud storage for enterprise solutions, and why 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies use its services. It provides both free storage for nonprofits and discounts for its business plans, so strap in for a deeper dive into Box.

At rest, Box uses AES 256-bit encryption for data, with high-strength TLS encryption used for data in transit. Unfortunately, like Google Drive, Box doesn’t offer zero-knowledge encryption. If you love the features of Box, but you’re looking for stronger security, then think about using a product like Boxcryptor to encrypt your files. Check out our Boxcryptor review to learn more.

Plus, Box offers discounts for nonprofit organizations that meet its criteria. Its nonprofit option offers 10 lifetime licenses for the Box Starter plan, with 100GB of free storage. The only cost here is an $84 administration fee. If you require more storage, nonprofits can take advantage of a 50 percent discount on business plans, including the unlimited storage option.

Starter
  • Users: 3-10
  • 100 GB Storage
1-year plan $ 5.00/ month
$60.00 billed every year
Save 29 %
Business
  • Users: No limit
  • Unlimited GB Storage
1-year plan $ 15.00/ month
$180.00 billed every year
Save 25 %
Business Plus
  • Users: No limit
  • Unlimited GB Storage
1-year plan $ 25.00/ month
$300.00 billed every year
Save 24 %
Enterprise
  • Users: No limit
  • Unlimited GB Storage
1-year plan $ 35.00/ month
$420.00 billed every year
Save 26 %

Box Collaboration Features

Box makes collaboration simple, with Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 integration included. This allows you to co-author documents and autosave them directly in Box. You can read more about these features in our full Box review.

3. Dropbox Business

Dropbox for charities
Dropbox Business offers discounts for educational institutions and nonprofits, though you’ll have to contact Dropbox for a quote.

More details about Dropbox Business:

Pros:

  • Good third-party app support
  • Unlimited storage available
  • Block-level transfers

Cons:

  • No clear nonprofit pricing
  • Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
  • Previous security issues

Our shortlist wouldn’t be complete without a mention for one of the biggest names in cloud storage: Dropbox Business. As our earlier Dropbox Business review explains, it offers a user-friendly experience and good file-sharing options, especially for bigger organizations.

It’s also one of our favorite enterprise file sync and share providers, scoring highly for file syncing speeds, thanks to its use of block-level file transfers.

Dropbox Business offers discounts for schools, charities and nonprofit organizations, although these aren’t made public. You’ll need to speak to Dropbox Business directly for a quote, but you can use the standard pricing as a base figure (see our Dropbox pricing guide). At $12.50 monthly for each user, it isn’t the cheapest solution, with unlimited storage costing up to $20 per user per month.

Professional
  • Total Storage: 3TB, Price per user, 1 user
1-year plan $ 16.57/ month
$198.86 billed every year
Save 17 %
Standard
  • Total Storage: 5TB, Price per user, 3+ users
1-year plan $ 12.50/ month
$150.00 billed every year
Save 17 %
Advanced
  • Total Storage: unlimited, Price per user, 3+ users
1-year plan $ 20.00/ month
$240.00 billed every year
Save 20 %

Advantages of Dropbox for Nonprofits

Dropbox Business is a good choice for teams, making it easy to connect Microsoft Office 365 and Dropbox together for real-time project collaboration. You can co-author documents, make changes together as well as roll back to previous versions of documents, thanks to versioning. The same goes for Google’s productivity apps, such as Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

If those aren’t enough, Dropbox Business has its own app store where you can find integrations with remote office staples, such as Trello and Asana. You’ll even find video conferencing and communication tools, including Zoom and Slack.

4. OneDrive for Business With Microsoft 365 for Nonprofits

OneDrive cloud storage for churches
The entire Microsoft 365 Business package is free for nonprofits, including OneDrive for Business.

More details about OneDrive for Business:

  • Pricing: 1TB per user free, unlimited storage for $4.50 per month per user
  • Provider website: www.microsoft.com

Pros:

  • Flawless Office integration
  • Strong free plan for nonprofits
  • Unlimited storage available

Cons:

  • Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
  • No Linux support
  • Desktop Office apps cost more

When it comes to business tech, few companies are trusted more than Microsoft. Additionally, as our OneDrive for Business review shows, its cloud storage solution remains a popular choice for businesses and nonprofit organizations. It comes with support for Windows and macOS, although Linux support is lacking.

File uploads are fast, thanks to block-level syncing (called “differential sync” by Microsoft) for all file transfers, something that was previously only available for Microsoft Office files.

Microsoft offers OneDrive for Business as a nonprofit donation as part of the Microsoft 365 Business package. There’s no fee to use it, with 1TB of OneDrive storage and access to Office 365 online included. Desktop Office apps will cost a little extra at $3 per user per month, plus you can add unlimited storage for $4.50 per month per user with the Office 365 E3 package.

Plan:Storage:Price:Extra Features:
Microsoft 365 Business Basic1TB per userFreeNone
Microsoft 365 Business Standard1TB per user$3 per month per userDesktop Office apps
Office 365 E11TB per userFreeUnlimited users
Office 365 E3Unlimited$4.50 per month per userUnlimited users
Office 365 E5Unlimited$14 per month per userAdvanced security & analytics tools

OneDrive for Business Features

The name gives it away — this is a business product, first and foremost. That’s why Office is completely integrated into the OneDrive experience, making it easy to open and edit your files from the online OneDrive interface. You can also directly access this storage from the desktop Office apps as well as work with others in Office documents online.

OneDrive uses 256-bit AES encryption for data at rest, and the TLS protocol in transit, matching Box. Two-factor authentication is offered as standard, but like the other players, there’s no zero-knowledge encryption for your files.

5. IDrive

IDrive nonprofit cloud backup
IDrive is an online backup solution with cloud storage features that offers a huge discount for nonprofits.

More details about IDrive:

  • Pricing: 5GB free, 2.5TB for $399.75 per year
  • Provider website: www.idrive.com

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Zero-knowledge encryption
  • Single sign-on features

Cons:

  • Storage might not be enough for large companies
  • Limited sharing options

IDrive is the odd one out on this list, as it isn’t purely a cloud storage service but an online backup platform (read about the differences between the two in this article). However, it has a cloud storage service built into it, which comes with standard cloud storage features, such as file syncing and sharing.

Plus, IDrive’s cloud storage doesn’t eat into your backup storage space, either. Rather, it uses its own storage, which you get for free, with a capacity equal to your online backup plan. For example, if you have 1TB of backup storage, you get an additional 1TB of cloud storage free of charge.

Already pretty affordable for regular users, nonprofits get a 50 percent discount on all IDrive plans, including business plans. Storage is shared between users, but you can go all the way to 12.5TB. A 5GB free version is available if you want to take IDrive for a spin before committing to a purchase.

Storage:Price:
250GB$49.75 per year
500GB$99.75 per year
1.25TB$249.75 per year
2.5TB$399.75 per year
5TB$749.75 per year
12.5TB$1499.75 per year

IDrive Business Features

IDrive makes managing your nonprofit’s cloud easy, thanks to its user-management features. It lets you divide your storage into sub-accounts with different content, plus you can control permissions and access levels for users. IDrive even features a single sign-on option, which can make logging in simple for your employees and volunteers.

Also, IDrive holds the esteemed honor of being the most secure offering on this list. Like the rest of the services on this list, files stored on its servers are encrypted, but IDrive goes a step further by offering secure zero-knowledge encryption. This ensures that only you can access your files, and even IDrive’s employees can’t decrypt your data.

Other Free Cloud Storage Nonprofits Can Consider

If your nonprofit doesn’t quite need a full business storage service, there are a few free cloud options you could consider as well.

The good news is that a lot of the best cloud storage services have very good free plans, though with limited storage. However, if you’re a small nonprofit, and you only need to store documents and an image or two, you could give one of these services a try.

  1. pCloud — 10GB free storage with excellent media playback. Read our pCloud review.
  2. Sync.com — 5GB for free with airtight security. Read our Sync.com review.
  3. Icedrive — Blazing-fast service with a 15GB free plan. Read our Icedrive review.
  4. MEGA — Zero-knowledge service with 15GB free storage. Read our MEGA review.
  5. Apple iCloud — Apple users get 5GB built-in cloud storage. Read our iCloud Review.

We gladly recommend any of these services to our readers, and they’re all great in their own right. pCloud is a standout among the best free cloud storage services thanks to its ample storage space and useful media features, though Sync.com comes a close second, as the most secure cloud service.

How We Picked Our Providers

If you’ve read our other cloud storage reviews and comparisons, you’ll know that we carefully consider each provider, looking at the pros and cons of each. In this case, we’ve focused on the most important attributes for nonprofits, including security, collaboration tools and cost.

That’s why Google Drive comes out as our number-one pick, as we scored free offerings particularly highly. Cloud storage services that don’t offer the right combination of features weren’t considered for inclusion.

Keeping Sensitive Nonprofit Data Safe

Nonprofits collaborate with a wide range of different companies and individuals. A lot of sensitive information needs to be stored, whether it’s personal details or financial data. That’s why nonprofit organizations need cloud storage with the best security policies available.

Cloud storage that offers zero-knowledge encryption is highly desirable. It means that your service provider doesn’t store a copy of your encryption key, making it impossible for it to access your data, even by choice (or under duress). Passwords still remain the weakest link, so we also recommend using a service with two-factor authentication.

Besides encryption, make sure to use strong passwords for all of your accounts. A password that looks like your cat took a stroll across your keyboard would be ideal (you can generate a strong password with our tool). Don’t worry about remembering all those letters and symbols — use a password manager to keep your passwords safe.

Should Nonprofits Use Business Cloud Storage?

The less money a nonprofit spends on business costs, the more it can put into its true purpose. Business cloud storage offers a simple way for nonprofits to do away with the need for expensive data storage devices, as well as the staff required to maintain those devices.

Some cloud storage providers also offer healthy discounts to nonprofits that can verify their status, making it a financially savvy choice. It’s important to keep in mind that if your nonprofit has strict security requirements, you’ll need to be sure that your cloud storage provider can meet them.

Final Thoughts

Any of the providers on our list would provide a nonprofit organization with excellent features and storage for sensitive data, even on a tight budget. Google Drive is our top choice here, thanks to its generous pricing and offering the best free cloud storage for nonprofits.

If you want a provider with good enterprise features, then Box, Dropbox Business and OneDrive for Business are all good alternatives, each with good pricing discounts for nonprofits. Finally, IDrive edges a spot on the list, thanks to its cloud storage features, though it’s still an online backup solution at heart.

Have you used any of the services on this list? Do you know of any other good cloud storage services with discounts for nonprofits? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.