Why cybersecurity matters for NFPs

Guarding good: Why cybersecurity matters for NFPs

Discover why cybersecurity is essential for not-for-profit organisations (NFPs). Learn about top considerations when choosing a cybersecurity solution and practical steps to enhance your NFP's digital security, even on a tight budget.

In this article:

Running a not-for-profit means managing limited resources to create maximum impact. But here's the thing: in today's tech-savvy world some of those resources must be invested in data security. Data is your biggest risk and keeping your organisation's data safe is non-negotiable.

Your organisation is no doubt full of excellent people, working hard to make the world a better place. You've got volunteers, donors, partners and programme participants, all entrusting you with their information. A cyber-attack can put your reputation, the trust of your supporters, and your mission - all at risk. That's the reality for not-for-profits today.

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  1. The vulnerabilities of Not-for-Profits
  2. Top 5 things NFPs should consider when choosing a cybersecurity solution.  
  3. Simple steps you can do today to improve security.  

Understanding Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is no longer a choice but a must for NFPs. We'll dig into the specific challenges you face because of limited funds and resources. Plus, we'll chat about what to consider when picking a cybersecurity solution that won't break the bank but will still get the job done. And for those of you worrying about budgets, we've got some practical steps you can take right now to boost your security.

Whether you're a small local charity or a big global non-profit, this article is your roadmap to understanding why cybersecurity should be high on your priority list and how to ramp up your digital protection without spending a fortune. Let's dive in!

To best utilise Cybersecurity tips in this article you will need the following:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard License 
  • Microsoft Azure Cloud 
  • Microsoft 365 Secure Score

The vulnerabilities of Not-for-Profits

Alright, let's get real. Not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) might not always be the first target on a cybercriminal's hit list, but they're far from immune. Here's why:

Limited resources: Most NFPs operate on shoestring budgets. While that's great for putting more money into your mission, it can leave you wide open to cyber threats. You might not have a dedicated IT team or the latest security tools.

Outdated systems: When you're trying to be good stewards of your donated funds, upgrading your tech isn't always top priority. Old, unsupported systems can be like open doors for hackers. For instance, as software ages, security researchers and hackers alike become more familiar with its weaknesses. They discover and share vulnerabilities in older systems, making it easier for cybercriminals to find and target them. Hackers can use these known vulnerabilities to breach your system.

Loss of trust: Your reputation is everything in the NFP world. If word gets out that your donor data was breached, or your services compromised, trust can erode fast. That's bad news for donations and partnerships.

You have high-value data: Believe it or not, NFPs often have valuable data. Donor information, financial records, sensitive documents related to your mission… It is worth money to the right (or wrong) people and cybercriminals know this and will exploit it on the dark web.

Lack of cyber awareness: Staff and volunteers, while dedicated, might not be cybersecurity experts. Phishing emails or other social engineering tactics can catch even the best-intentioned folks off guard. At XP, we run regular phishing simulations to ensure our staff are vigilant to attacks which is our best defence in keeping our client data safe.

NFPs have some unique vulnerabilities. But don't worry, we're not here to scare you. In fact, we're here to help you navigate these challenges and bolster your cybersecurity without breaking the bank.

Top 5 things NFPs should consider when choosing a cybersecurity solution

Let's talk shop. When it comes to picking a cybersecurity solution for your not-for-profit, here are the top five things you should keep in mind:

  1. Affordability: Look for cybersecurity solutions that won't break the bank. There are cost-effective options out there that still provide robust protection. XP is often able to secure substantial discounts for charitable organisations. Talk to us and let’s see what we can do.
  2. Scalability: Your NFP might be small today, but who knows what the future holds? Choose a cybersecurity solution that can grow with you. You don't want to outgrow your security tools when you start expanding.
  3. User-Friendly: You're not all IT experts, and that's perfectly fine. Go for solutions that your team can actually use without a PhD in cybersecurity. Complicated tools can be more trouble than they're worth. And if you’re still stuck, give XP a call!
  4. Compliance and Data Protection: Donors and supporters trust you with their data, so you've got to take data protection seriously. Make sure your cybersecurity solution aligns with data protection regulations and donor expectations. These regulations can vary from country to country, so know where your data is stored and what’s involved with that location. You don't want to be caught on the wrong side of the law or lose donor trust.
  5. Training and Support: Even the best cybersecurity tool won't help if your team doesn't know how to use it. Look for solutions that offer training and good customer support. You want to know there's someone to call if things go south.

Remember, you're not alone in this. There are cybersecurity solutions tailored for NFPs that can help you stay safe without draining your resources. Keep these considerations in mind, and you'll be well on your way to fortifying your digital defences.

Simple steps you can do today to improve security

Alright, let's roll up our sleeves and get practical. You might not have a massive budget for cybersecurity, but there are some steps you can take right now to beef up your digital security:

Have robust security policies: First things first, set some ground rules. Create cybersecurity policies and make sure everyone in your organisation knows them. These could include things like strong password guidelines, data access restrictions, and safe internet usage practices. Remind people of these things often, because as humans, we tend to become complacent over time.

Educate your team: We’ve mentioned this a lot in this article, and for good reason! Your team is your first line of defence. Educate them about common cybersecurity risks, like phishing emails and suspicious downloads. Train them to spot red flags and know what to do if they encounter a potential threat. As I mentioned before, this is something we do, and can help you with as well.

Get a password manager! Not a role on staff, but a useful digital “wallet” for your codes. Weak passwords are like an open invitation to hackers. Encourage your staff to use strong, unique passwords for their accounts. Consider using a password manager, such as 1password or similar to keep things secure and organised. Password managers are also great at generating unique, strong passwords, making it super simple.

Keep software updated: Those pesky software updates are more than just annoyances and interruptions. They often contain crucial security patches. Make sure your systems and software are up to date to close any vulnerabilities. Encourage staff to schedule time in their calendars to run these updates (we recommend doing them over your lunch break!)

Backup your information: Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things go wrong. That's where backups come in. Regularly back up your critical data to a secure location. That way, if disaster strikes, you can recover without missing a beat. Don’t forget to consider where your backup data is stored, and if on the cloud, ensure the data compliance matches your unique requirements.

These steps might sound simple, but they can make a world of difference in your cybersecurity. And the best part? They won't cost you a fortune. So, get started today and make your NFP a tougher target for cyber threats.



Alright, we've covered a lot of ground, so let's wrap things up. If there's one thing you should take away from this article, it's this: cybersecurity isn't a luxury; it's a necessity for not-for-profit organisations (NFPs).

In today's digital world, where data is gold and trust is priceless, protecting your mission and the people you serve should be a top priority. Yes, we get it, budgets are tight, and resources are limited, but that doesn't mean you're defenceless against cyber threats.

We've talked about the vulnerabilities that NFPs face, from outdated systems to the trust you've worked so hard to build. We've also highlighted the top considerations when choosing a cybersecurity solution, with affordability and user-friendliness at the forefront.

And let's not forget those practical steps you can take right now to strengthen your security, even if your budget is as tight as ever.

Remember, you're not alone in this. XP are here to help you find affordable cybersecurity solutions, and there's a community of NFPs facing similar challenges. So, go ahead, take those first steps to bolster your digital defences. Protect your mission, your reputation, and the trust of those who rely on you. Stay safe out there, and keep making a positive impact on the world.

Additional resources

There is a lot of information out there, and it can be overwhelming, but here are some extra resources we like, that may help you on your NFP cybersecurity journey.

Anti-phishing working group (APWG)

The APWG all about tackling the global issues of fraud and identity theft stemming from phishing and email spoofing. Their website offers tools for reporting phishing incidents, along with a wealth of resources and the latest news in this domain.



  • The Microsoft Secure Blog offers tips on how to protect your devices from threats like malware, spyware and viruses. It gives information about identity theft, spam and phishing attacks and notifies you about Microsoft security updates.
  • The Trust Center is a resource for learning how Microsoft implements and supports security, privacy, compliance and transparency in its cloud products and services. It provides in-depth information and resources about security and privacy.

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