Five Things Nonprofits Need to Know About Application Development in the Cloud

Leading PaaS provider Caspio saved nonprofit $100k in app dev costs in just two months.

SANTA CLARA, California, November 11, 2014 Life at a nonprofit is pretty tough. From donor tracking to volunteer management, event registration to grant documentation, data is often the lifeblood of nonprofits, and the way it is managed can make all the difference for budget-conscious organizations. Just ask Solar Oregon, a solar energy education nonprofit that saved over $100,000 in two months’ time by using a cloud-based rapid application development platform from Caspio, Inc. ( to design custom applications to streamline their entire data workflow. As a result, their programs earned national recognition from the U.S. Department of Energy, serving as a best practice example for other states looking to implement similar programs.

To help other nonprofits assess the ways they can use cloud-based applications to save money and deliver results faster, Caspio has identified five things nonprofits need to know about application development in the cloud and is offering Solar Oregon’s case study as an example.

“Nonprofits are traditionally under-resourced, which makes it hard for them to adopt the kinds of technologies that their better capitalized private-sector counterparts use to gain a competitive advantage,” says Frank Zamani, Caspio Founder and CEO.  “With the cloud, however, it’s all about doing more with less — the very same principle that nonprofits live by every day — so it makes perfect business sense for them to embrace rapid application development technologies that enable them to create custom applications to reduce costs, enhance productivity, and scale easily as their needs grow.”

“At Solar Oregon, we were originally entering membership data from hand-filled forms into Excel spreadsheets and sharing them across a small peer-to-peer network. The process was slow, cumbersome and costly, and we knew we needed to streamline the entire way we managed our data,” says Evan Manvel, executive director of Solar Oregon.  “The ROI from our first Caspio application development project was so significant that it motivated us to tackle more difficult projects, including an app to manage monthly solar energy readings for over 600 residential solar installations. We developed the application ourselves in just under two months using Caspio’s platform without requiring a team of developers, database administrators, or hosting services — saving Solar Oregon approximately $100,000 in development costs. Since then, we have used Caspio to build a host of other custom applications that have completely changed the way we interact with solar customers, installers, and partners.”

For details on how Solar Oregon achieved these results using Caspio, read the case study:
Solar Energy Nonprofit Saves $100K and Receives National Recognition Using Cloud Database Applications

Taking lessons from Solar Oregon, Caspio is sharing the following tips for nonprofits looking to develop custom cloud applications.

Five Things Nonprofits Need to Know About Application Development in the Cloud

  1. Embrace the Cloud: Nonprofits usually don’t have large IT staffs standing by to develop applications or set up dedicated servers at a moment’s notice. As a result, they must consider ways to achieve their goals through innovative technologies.  The cloud offers nonprofits a means to efficient solutions without adding the technical complexities that require a large in-house IT staff to implement and manage it all.
  2. Customization is Possible:  Nonprofits often feel constrained by a lack of funding, having to settle for off-the-shelf software that doesn’t quite meet their needs rather than assume the costs associated with traditional application development.  There are a myriad of off-the-shelf applications available to nonprofits — generic programs for fundraising or donations, for example.  But when a custom application for a particular audience or purpose is required, it’s important for nonprofits to know these solutions are within reach with a little “out of the box” and “into the clouds” thinking. In the case of Solar Oregon, they used Caspio’s point-and-click online database platform to create a custom web-based registration system to facilitate a bulk-purchasing program, all without writing a single line of code.
  3. Get the Most out of Your Budget: With a creative approach to technology, nonprofits like Solar Oregon have proven that a small budget can make a big difference. Meaningful custom applications can be developed at an affordable cost by nonprofits willing to explore technologies like Caspio’s cloud-based rapid application development platform. All-in-one tools like these allow nonprofits to build applications and automate tasks that, due to costs or complexity, have been left undone for years.
  4. Create an Ecosystem: Online applications can help nonprofits connect citizens, private-sector partners, government entities, fundraisers and donors — all the parties that need to share information in order to achieve the actionable results the nonprofit is fostering. One of the apps Solar Oregon built is a CRM that’s deployed in partnership with multiple communities, government agencies, and professional installation companies across Oregon.
  5. Start Small: The best advice for nonprofits: Don’t try to do everything all at once; start with a project that will demonstrate the best return on investment, and then add new components as time and budget allow. Just like Solar Oregon, they started small from creating smart registration forms and took off quickly to develop other more complicated applications.

As a leader in cloud database and platform-as-a-service technology, Caspio, Inc. ( helps companies shrink the development time of custom business applications from weeks to hours, and from thousands of dollars to a small monthly fee. Caspio’s point-and-click cloud platform requires no coding skills and powers applications for thousands of customers including Fortune-500 companies, America’s largest newspaper websites, government agencies, universities, nonprofits, and diverse organizations around the world. A free 14-day trial is available at

Press Contact