Cloud Computing vs. On Premise Nonprofit Software: What’s the Difference?

Difference-between-Cloud-computing-and-on-premise-nonprofit-softwareThere has been a lot of discussion regarding Cloud and on premise software solutions lately, and it seems as though everyone has an opinion regarding which option is best. Some organizations prefer Cloud-based solutions due to its flexibility while others feel more secure using an on premise solution to manage their financial activities. While there are certainly benefits to both deployment options, the ultimate deciding factor is what works best for your nonprofit organization. Understanding the differences between Cloud and on premise software is key to helping you decide which solution to choose when it comes time to invest in nonprofit software.

The main difference between Cloud computing and on premise nonprofit software is clear: Cloud solutions are provided as a service and can be accessed using an Internet connection while on premise solutions are installed locally on your company’s hardware and servers. The differences, however, don’t end there. To help you better understand the differences between Cloud computing and on premise solutions, we’ve provided a summary of the distinguishing factors between the two solutions. Take a look at the following categories to discover how Cloud computing differs from on premise and vice versa:


  • Cloud computing: Pay-as-you-go subscription model (usually a monthly fee) – low initial cost.
  • On premise: Most of the cost is paid up-front in the software and hardware purchase, implementation, training, and IT support.


  • Cloud computing: Users can access the software via the Internet or a mobile device.
  • On premise: Software can only be accessed on the company’s computers (or through remote assistance).

Upgrades and Maintenance

  • Cloud computing: System upgrades and maintenance are handled by the Cloud provider.
  • On premise: Software maintenance and upgrades are managed by your IT staff.

Level of Control/Security

  • Cloud computing: Software and data are managed and controlled in the Cloud by the Cloud provider.
  • On premise: Software and data are managed and controlled on-site by the nonprofit organization.

Hardware Requirements

  • Cloud computing: No additional hardware required – all you need is an Internet connection.
  • On premise: Hardware and servers must be purchased to run the software.

Mobile Capabilities

  • Cloud computing: Software can be accessed on mobile devices in a variety of manners – apps, mobile browsers, etc.
  • On premise: Software can be accessed via the browsers on mobile devices.


  • Cloud computing: Software can be customized. Customizations are automatically carried forward when the software is upgraded.
  • On premise: Software can be customized. Customizations are tied to your current software deployment and must be revisit when you upgrade.

Deployment Time

  • Cloud computing: Implementation and deployment still requires planning and time; however, the software can usually be deployed more quickly than on premise solutions as there is no hardware to be installed.
  • On premise: Implementation and deployment requires extensive planning and time.

Is your nonprofit organization considering moving your software to the Cloud? Contact us today for a consultation to determine with Cloud-based nonprofit software is the right fit for your organization.