Women Working In The Cloud-Using Cloud Computing To Make A Difference

Cloud computing has changed the way we work and the way we live. The best known cloud service providers are Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett Packard and Amazon. My use of cloud computing may be small fry in comparison but it has made a big difference to the children's cancer charity, for which I do some volunteer writing.

Actually without cloud computing you would probably not be reading this article. This article is one small example of the collaborations made possible by cloud computing, in this instance our connection took place on a group on Linkedin, the professionals social network. I met the Chief Executive of a children's cancer charity there and this article is a collaboration between her, Meltem Kogelbauer and I.

So what is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is internet based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid.

How has cloud computing helped us make a difference? Without cloud computing many of our goals would have been far more difficult to achieve and most likely would have taken a lot longer, plus been more expensive.

Cloud computing has helped make a difference by making things happen quickly and inexpensively. Not only this, but the potential it gives us for reaching out much further than before is amazing.

In order to provide more funding into research, one of our major strategies is to keep IT, administration and operational costs to the minimum. Cloud computing makes it possible for us to achieve this, which means that the up to 95% of the public donations can be invested in the cause.

Cloud computing keeps the costs of running the charity down significantly but it is not only the cost control which it allows, but the ability to reach out to a much wider audience. "Working in the cloud" enables us to keep its promise to public. It also allows us to reach out to our beneficiaries, supporters and collaborators easily.

Using cloud computing to spread the word

Like any charity the aim is to spread the word to be able to raise funds and increase supporters. However in the case of childhood cancer, research is an underfunded field. One of the reasons for this is that incident rates are low when compared to adult cases thus attracting little or no funding from governments. This in turn means that more scientists are moving towards adult cancer cases due to lack of research funding.

About 200,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year around the world. Children are not small adults. Research in treatment, supportive care and cancer causes requires different approaches right through from newborns to young adult age groups.

Without cloud computing I know that our job to spread the word, raise funds and make important connections would be far more difficult and of course more expensive.

Here are some of the cloud computing tools which we us, which can be useful for you too:

LinkedIn (the professional social network) - helps us bring professionals together and allow us to share ideas and collaborate. LinkedIn gives us the potential to meet like minded people all over the world who wish to share information and network. Valuable contacts can be made via LinkedIn.

Facebook/Twitter - serves to connect us to our community and supporters, enabling us to reach out to our beneficiaries easily. Facebook and Twitter make the world small and accessible for us.

Volunteermatch.com - is a great resource for attracting volunteers. So far we have had about 50 volunteers from this site. Now we are reaching out to more volunteers internationally, speaking the local languages with Vodafone's matchmaker tool.

Our fundraisers use the Virgin Money tools to raise funds. While Virgin makes it easier for voluntaries to raise money, it is cost effective for us to operate.

Google Docs - are then used to share documents among the volunteer work force.

Chimp Mail - is a great newsletter tool which we use to keep our volunteers up to date with the organisational developments.

Google Alerts - is a handy tool to keep us up to date with important information. It is easy to set up an alert and it means that we don't miss out on vital information relating to Childhood Cancer.

Open Source Tools - have been used for building the websites of CCE RA and Monty's Corner. Drupal suited our requirements extremely well with its modular approach. We found it easy to manage as well as easy to integrate.

SlideShare - (slideshare.net) we use for our company presentations.

Photo Bucket - is used to store our content photos in order to keep the server size cost effective.

Skype - without skype we don't know how keep our communications low priced within the organisation.

When it comes to marketing, we cannot live without the power of Google Adwords, Google Base and Facebook Ads. What keeps us on track of things that are interesting and important to us is Google Calendar.

And last but definitely not least.. Zazzle Shops and Amazon Marketplace' are used around the world to sell merchandise for fundraising.

Cloud computing and technology in general have made a remarkable difference to the work of our charity.

We believe that as women we have numerous natural gifts and cloud computing can enhance these, making us far more efficient, helping us to reach out to connections we could never have imagined and making a difference in our lives, whether personally or professionally.

Jackie does some voluntary writing for the childrens cancer information and research charity CCE Research Alliance. She has written articles for their community website Monty's Corner which discuss various complementary therapies and their potential benefits as part of a treatment program for childhood cancer. This article has focused on the collaboration with Meltem, the charity Chief Executive, via cloud computing.

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