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. It 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.
What Is the Best Cloud Storage for Nonprofits?
- Google Cloud
- Dropbox Business
- OneDrive for Business
There are some great options out there that would suit any nonprofit organization, but Tresorit is our clear favorite. It offers a high level of security, including zero-knowledge encryption to help protect your most sensitive data. It also offers healthy discounts to genuine nonprofits, making it very affordable.
Google Cloud comes in at a close second, offering free storage and Google apps integration. Box, Dropbox for Business and OneDrive for Business are all designed with businesses in mind, but nonprofits can take advantage of the storage limits, discounted rates and good security on offer.
Let’s take a look at each provider in turn.
Security is vital for nonprofits, and that’s one of the reasons why Tresorit makes it to the top of our list. As the name suggests and as our Tresorit review explains in greater depth, Tresorit (from the German word for “vault”) is a data fortress for nonprofit organizations, with zero-knowledge encryption making it one of the best zero-knowledge cloud storage providers.
You (and your organization) have control of your data security, but additional two-factor authentication helps to keep your password (and account) secure from potential data breaches. This approach means that your data will be lost if you lose your password, and there’s no way to reset it.
With this in mind, you’ll need to take care of your password security, and a reputable password manager could help. Take a look at our best password manager for small business roundup for ideas, with Dashblane and 1Password both offering good features for organizations.
Tresorit is a good option for mobile volunteers, too, thanks to Android and iOS app support. A web client for accessing your data is also available, but you can also use desktop apps for Windows, macOS and Linux to sync your files.
Tresorit’s security is excellent, but pricing is another reason why Tresorit is our top recommendation. The company believes in supporting organizations that work “towards creating social good” and, as a result, offers a 50-percent discount on all of its business plans if your organization meets its criteria.
This discount means that nonprofits can pay $10 per user per month for 1TB of data storage (up to nine users), or $12 per user per month for organizations with 10 or more users.
- Zero-knowledge encryption
- Strong security focus
- Discounted pricing for nonprofits
- Slow sync speeds
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 organizations.
Thanks to the G Suite for Nonprofits program, nonprofits 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. Unlimited storage is available, if needed, by upgrading to G Suite Business.
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.
You can also build your own cloud storage solution with Google Cloud and Storage Made Easy (see our Storage Made Easy review). This puts you in complete control of your data, allowing you to run your own private and encrypted Google Cloud storage server while using the Storage Made Easy desktop apps and online interface to manage your files.
Google Drive vs. Google Cloud
Free cloud storage from Google is great, but there are some downsides. If you decide to use your free Google Drive storage with G Suite for Nonprofits, you won’t have the same level of security as other providers, like Tresorit.
If you decide to go for the infrastructure-as-a-service approach, you’ll have more luck. Creating your own Google Cloud storage server puts you in control, allowing you to encrypt your files manually. You’ll also remain in control of your server’s encryption keys.
Deciding to go for Google Cloud versus Google Drive is a decision for your organization, although Storage Made Easy should make the process simple if you decide to create your own storage server.
- Great integration with Google apps
- Multiple storage options
- Limited storage on free tier
- Lacks zero-knowledge encryption (Drive only)
- Privacy concerns
It makes collaboration simple, with Google Docs and Office Online integration included, allowing you to co-author documents and autosave them directly in Box. You can read more about these features in our Box review.
Box uses AES 256-bit encryption for data at rest, 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.
Like Tresorit, Box offers a good set of discounts for nonprofit organizations that meet its criteria. A “donated subscription” for nonprofits comes with 10 lifetime licenses for the Box Starter plan, with 100GB of free storage. The only cost here is an $84 administration fee, which is significantly cheaper than per-user storage elsewhere for larger organizations.
If you require more storage, nonprofits can take advantage of a 50-percent discount on business plans. If you want unlimited storage, this will cost you around $7.50 per user per month at the discounted rate — a good reason why Box made a strong impression in our best unlimited online storage providers shortlist.
- Very cheap deals for nonprofits
- Strong pedigree
- Office & Google integration
- Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
- Admin fee for free accounts
- Limited storage for free accounts
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.
Dropbox offers discounts for 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.
It’s been a few years since Dropbox’s big data breach, which impacted more than 68 million accounts. Right now, Dropbox Business uses AES 256-bit encryption for data it holds and uses the TLS protocol to protect any in-transit data from man-in-the-middle attacks.
Unfortunately, no zero-knowledge encryption means that Dropbox still holds the keys to your data, so you may want to encrypt it before you upload.
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.
- Good third-party app support
- Unlimited storage available
- Block-level transfers
- No clear nonprofit pricing
- Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
- Previous security issues
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.
Faster file uploads are offered, too, thanks to block-level syncing (called “differential sync” by Microsoft) for all file transfers, something that was previously only available for Microsoft Office files.
Like other services, such as Box, Microsoft offers OneDrive for Business as a donation to qualifying nonprofits. There’s no fee to use it, with 1TB of OneDrive storage and access to Office Online included. Access to desktop Office apps will cost a little extra, at around $3 per user per month, or $4.50 for unlimited storage.
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 Dropbox for Business. Two-factor authentication is offered as standard, but like the other players, there’s no zero-knowledge encryption for your files.
- Flawless Office integration
- Strong free plan for nonprofits
- Unlimited storage available
- Lacks zero-knowledge encryption
- No Linux support
- Desktop Office apps cost more
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 Tresorit comes out as our number-one pick, but free offerings, such as Google Drive, score highly. Cloud storage services that don’t offer the right combination of features — even some of our big favorites like Sync.com — 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 two-factor authentication is also recommended.
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.
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. Tresorit is our top choice here, thanks to its generous pricing, as well as being the only option to offer zero-knowledge encryption out of the box.
Google wasn’t far behind, offering free storage and access to other Google products, like Google Docs with its G Suite for Nonprofits program. Thanks to Google Cloud and the Storage Made Easy service, you can even roll out your own secure storage server.
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.
If you’ve used any of these cloud storage providers in your nonprofit and you have your own opinions to share, please let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.