Email hosting recommendations for small not-for-profit organisations

Steve

If you don’t have an IT professional looking after your organisations email hosting, then consider switching to Cloud-based email: Google’s G-Suite or Microsoft’s Office 365 will give you ultra-reliable, safe and secure email hosting. Eligible not-for-profit’s can get all the goodies for free!

Lots of our clients are small not-for-profit organisations. Often the smaller of these don’t have any support when it comes to IT, so often don’t have the best practices when it comes to managing email.

Email is important, obviously. It’s typically the main channel of communication between an organization and its supporters, stakeholders, suppliers and clients. But email can also be a significant entry point for hackers, spammers and others with ill intent. Using “social engineering”, these criminal types will try to trick you into clicking a link that could lead to malware being installed on your computers. Anti-virus software is rarely enough to protect you.

When we’re working on a new website for a client, or a client wants to move their website to alternative hosting, the question of what happens with their email hosting often comes up. If they don’t have a professional IT provider, my advice is always the same: don’t host your email with your website, but instead, move your email to one of the Cloud hosted email providers.

Cloud hosted email?

If you’re doing things the old way, you’ve probably got a POP email account that’s included in your website hosting. You download everything that comes to that account onto your computer to read it, probably in Outlook or something similar.

The alternative is to use a service like Google’s G-Suite, or Microsoft’s Office 365. You can create email accounts using your own domain name with these providers and access it from any web browser similar to your Gmail or Hotmail webmail accounts. Doing things this way, you’re not downloading anything to your computer. The service provider scans all emails sent to your before you even see them and blocks anything that has malware (viruses, etc) attached. You’ll get the best spam filtering and phishing detection available. When emails come through that have attachments, you still don’t need to download them – G-Suite (Gmail), for example, has a preview feature so you can take a quick look at the attachment without opening it.

If you’re worried about someone else being able to access your email, you can enable two-factor authentication on your account. When you log in you’ll enter your email address, your password, and a six digit number that’s generated on your phone – only the person who has both your phone and your password can get in.

You get far more than the security benefits though.

Office 365 and G-Suite provide things like shared calendars, document sharing, collaborative spreadsheets, and lots more. You’ll never need to worry about backing up your email or any of these documents and calendars. Even the basic plans give loads of storage. And, if your computer goes down or your phone gets lost, you can still access all your email from any web browser.

Free for not-for-profit organisation

Both Office 365 and G-Suite have not-for-profit programs providing email hosting for FREE for eligible organisations. See the links below.

If for some reason you’re not eligible, then it’s still worth considering – the fees are pretty reasonable, only going to be about $5 per month per email account.

There are tricks to keeping these costs costs down too. Maybe you have a bunch of email address that all come to the same computer and are all read by the same person. In this situation you can have email “aliases” on your accounts, so, for example, you could set up your sergei@yourdomain.org.au email account to also receive email sent to info@yourdomain.org.au, jobs@yourdomain.org.au and anything else. Have staff that need their own accounts – as the Administrator for your organisation you can create as many user accounts as you like – you’d pay the $5 per month for each of these user account.

The downside?

Moving all your old email into any new system is going to be problematic. If you can live without this, great. Otherwise, both G-Suite and Office 365 provide tools and tips for email migration to their platforms, but these can be tricky to get set up.

Apply for your not-for-profit discount

The approval process might take some time, so apply early and see how you go:

Office 365 Nonprofit plans:

https://products.office.com/en-au/nonprofit/office-365-nonprofit-plans-and-pricing

Google for Nonprofits:

https://www.google.com/nonprofits

Posted in Not-for-profit, Tech