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Microsoft’s Erik Arnold: Why Now’s The Time To Tap Into The ‘Partner Momentum’ Around Nonprofits

‘A lot of [nonprofit] organizations have their own custom workflows or things they want to do, and it‘s available for partners to take and extend and add different functionality to tune it for a specific organization. So it lights up our SIs, it lights up our ISVs. We’re seeing partners that have been traditionally associated with other platforms are now coming over to the Microsoft platform,’ says Erik Arnold, CTO for Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact group.

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For Microsoft partners, targeting nonprofit customers might not immediately sound as commercially appealing as those in manufacturing, retail, financial services and health care.

But all five fields are part of the tech giant’s “industry clouds” strategy. As part of that strategy, the company has rolled out Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit and associated cloud-based nonprofit tools, which help partners leverage the opportunities these organizations provide. Partners, however, need to have a better understanding of nonprofit budget cycles, needs and pain points.

So says Erik Arnold, chief technology officer for Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact group, who spoke recently with CRN about the tech giant’s investments in cloud tools aimed at nonprofits and what partners can do to add or grow nonprofits as a line of revenue.

“There is so much white space in this area because it has been so underserved,” Arnold said. “There is a lot of creativity and innovation possible for organizations to lean in. And that‘s where others have opportunity.”

Nyasha Tunduwani, founder of Seattle-based Microsoft partner Real Impact Technology Consulting, told CRN that his company has worked with nonprofits since around 2007, starting with the Head Start organization working on AIDS awareness campaigns.

“It’s a solid opportunity. It’s a good revenue opportunity,” Tunduwani said. “I like to say that the difference with nonprofits is the clients say, ‘Thank you.’ For a lot of them, it’s the first time that they’ve been treated well by a partner.”

Lately, his nonprofit customers have requested more tools around cybersecurity and proving through data that programs delivered positive outcomes in a community. Microsoft Teams voice tools and Azure migration assessments have also proven popular. Nonprofits, with outdated software and IT systems are fertile ground for new business. “They [nonprofit leaders] may not know how to do it, but they understand that manual processes hold back their ability to serve more people,” he said.

Here’s what else Arnold told CRN about the partner opportunity with Cloud for Nonprofit.

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