“What Is A Hybrid Cloud And How Can It Help My Nonprofit Organization?” Featured on TechSoup Canada

We’re excited to announce that we were recently featured on TechSoup Canada’s blog!

TechSoup Canada Blog

“There is no doubt about it, the Cloud has entered the nonprofit sector and it is here to stay. With key benefits such as scalability, flexibility and cost efficiency, the Cloud introduces a whole new way for nonprofit organizations (NPOs) to conduct business. While there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding this relatively new technology, we are excited to see an increasing number of NPOs embrace rather than resist the Cloud.

As a managed IT services provider, we think that it is important for our clients to be as informed as possible when it comes to their business technology. Often, when we first meet NPOs who are interested in migrating to the Cloud, the most common question we hear is, “where do I start?” With so many options on the market, the choices can be overwhelming – should NPOs choose a Public Cloud, a Private Cloud or a combination of both? In this article, we will address this question as well as introduce the idea of a Hybrid Cloud for NPOs.” – Justin Sharp, Solutions Architect, Grade A

Visit TechSoup Canada’s blog to read the full article.

Is Your Business Ready for Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)?

What is CASL?

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) is a new law introduced by the Government of Canada that will come into force on July 1st, 2014. CASL’s purpose is to protect Canadians from unsolicited electronic messages as well as other electronic threats such as identity theft, phishing, malware and spyware.

In many ways, CASL is a good thing. Not only will it keep your inbox from filling up with spam (which drowns out the messages you actually want to receive), it also forces marketers to send campaigns exclusively to qualified contacts who have actually asked to receive marketing information. This means increased open rates, less complaints and better results from marketing efforts.

While CASL will certainly have a positive effect on the digital landscape in Canada, it will have a significant impact any business or organization that uses email to communicate with prospects or contacts. Unless you’ve been sending marketing campaigns out by carrier pigeon, your business will likely be affected.

How will this affect my business?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re a business owner, a marketer, an IT professional or someone who is responsible for using email as a means to communicate with individuals about your business. Before sending out your next email campaign – or technically, any business email – you should be able to check off at least one of the criteria listed below:

  • You have received express opt-in consent from the recipient, or;
  • You have an existing business relationship with the recipient – either they have made a purchase within the last two years, they are within two years of the completion of a contract, or they have made an inquiry within the last 6 months.

If you do not have express or implied consent from your recipients, you could be subject to some fairly hefty penalties and fines. While there are still many grey areas within the legislation, here are some examples of express and implied consent that you might run into.

Express Consent

Here are some situations where you might have gained express consent from your contacts. You do not need to take any other steps to gain consent and can continue to send these contacts marketing emails.

  • You meet Peter at a business networking event. You tell him about your company newsletter and he asks you to sign him up on your mailing list.
  • Diane is interested in the services provided by your company so she visits your website. While she’s on your homepage, she notices an opt-in box that says “Enter your email to stay up-to-date with company events, promotions and resources”. She enters her email and is now on your mailing list.
  • Richard made an inquiry about your services a few months ago. You include him in a pre-CASL opt-in campaign and he clicks yes on the link asking for permission to keep him on your mailing list.

Implied Consent

Here are some situations where you might have gained implied consent. You can send these contacts marketing emails, but will need to verify and confirm consent before deadlines set out by CASL.

  • You meet David at a tradeshow. You tell him about your company and you exchange business cards.
  • Linda makes a purchase from your company, and provides you with all of her contact information.
  • Tim is surfing the web looking for more information about a topic your company specializes in. He comes across your white paper on that exact topic, and enters his contact information in exchange for a free download.
  • Joan thinks she might be interested in the services offered by your company. She sends an email to your sales manager to get more information.

You might be thinking, “Great! I don’t have express consent from my contacts, but they did give me implied consent so I’m off the hook”. Not so much. Businesses have a three year grace period to verify and confirm consent with any contacts with whom they have an existing business relationship. It is important to note that any contacts collected after the law goes into effect July 1st, 2014 are subject to different timelines.

So now what?

A few external communication policies can go a long way in protecting your business or organization from violating CASL. While there are other steps that need to be taken to ensure your business is CASL compliant, these are the top three things I would recommend implementing or reviewing immediately:

  1. Start consistently using a proper email marketing or marketing automation system like Mailchimp, ConstantContact, or Salesforce. It’s extremely important that you keep your contact lists centralized, so you can easily track and manage proof of consent, subscribes and unsubscribes.
  2. Make sure that all of your email signatures include CASL-compliant information such as your business mailing address, email address and unsubscribe links.
  3. Verify and confirm consent with anyone on your contact list before July 1st, 2014 through a series of opt-in campaigns using your preferred email marketing solution (you’ve likely received a flood of these in your inbox over the past month or so).

While CASL may have caused some extra work for many over the last few months, it can only benefit both individuals and business in the long run. How do you think CASL will affect the way you communicate with your prospects and clients?

Post by Emily Armstrong, Marketing Coordinator, Grade A

The Grade A blog is intended to provide general information about the subject matter covered. It is not meant to provide legal opinions, offer advice, or serve as a substitute for advice by licensed, legal professionals.

Grade A is Hiring!

Grade A is always looking for talented, energetic and innovative individuals who want to pursue their passion for technology and commitment to friendly customer service at our Ottawa, ON based offices.

We’re currently hiring for the following positions:

If you think you would be a great fit, apply today by sending your resume to careers@gradeA.ca!

For more information, please visit our careers page.

What Every Nonprofit Needs to Know About the Cloud

Grade A’s Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO) Adam Crate answers some of the most common questions about the Cloud for nonprofits, including:

  • What exactly is the Cloud?
  • What are some of the more popular Cloud solutions for nonprofits?
  • How can nonprofits benefit from moving to the Cloud?

 

Want to learn more about the Cloud? Contact Grade A today by phone at 613-721-3331 or book a no obligation consultation.

We’re a proud sponsor of many nonprofit and charity events, including the Chocolate Affair Gala on May 28th presented by the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region. The Distress Centre provides an integral, vital and important service to our community. Buy your Chocolate Affair tickets today by phone at 613-238-1089 ext 222. For more information please visit www.dcottawa.on.ca.

Chocolate Affair Gala

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