December 7, 2012 by Mitch Taube Categories: Document Management

According to the Urban Institute, the non-profit sector in the US has increased 25%, from 1.26 million non-profit organizations in 2001 to 1.57 million in 2011, surpassing both commercial and government growth. There are 28,000 non-profits in New York City alone, whose employees represent 14% of the City’s workforce (528,000 employees) and combined annual expenditure represents 11.5% of the gross city product ($43 billion).

However, giving has not grown by the same rate, making fundraising more competitive than it has ever been. Additionally, non-profits are increasingly measured by their fundraising efficiency and social impact. The higher a non-profit’s social return on investment (SROI), the more positive their ratings by GuideStar and Charity Navigator, which can lead to further fundraising success.

How can non-profits reduce unnecessary overhead without gutting critical resources? Utilizing document scanning and document management can save tens of thousands per year or more as well as to make the fundraising process more efficient and effective.

Document Scanning

Document scanning allows you to capture all paper-related information across your organization. Because it’s the critical input to a document management system, it must be done correctly. If poorly implemented, it’s garbage in, garbage out. For this reason, many non-profits outsource this manual, labor-intensive function to a document scanning provider to stay focused on their mission and fundraising. Without document scanning, non-profits will have the burden and expense of searching for files in filing cabinets, basements and off-site storage—with lost documents particularly concerning when facing audits.

Document Management

Document management software ensures that appropriate staff in your organization can access scanned and electronic documents in seconds. This helps to streamline invoice processing, new employee on-boarding, performance reviews, and other back-office processes—the savings of which can be put towards the non-profit’s mission and generate stronger SROI. Records of special importance for non-profits, such as board meeting minutes, articles of incorporation, bylaws, client files, donor files and other documents can all be maintained within a document management system—much of which must be kept for 3-10 years or permanently.

Additionally, document management can be used to increase the effectiveness of the grant writing process by making all important non-profit research, records, past grant proposals, and correspondence instantly available when they are needed.

Think Cloud

Non-profits are increasingly taking advantage of cloud document management, which allows for all of the functionality of document management software but with the addition of secure, remote and mobile access through a web browser. This is especially useful so that field workers can access critical documents, like client files, whenever and wherever they are needed. The cloud is also more cost-effective as billing takes the form of a modest monthly expense compared with a significant capital expenditure.

A Needed Boost

Just as for-profits have used document scanning and document management for years to cut costs, increase efficiency and strengthen their competitive advantage, so too can non-profits when it comes to using these technologies to help fulfill their mission and maximize SROI despite increased competition.

Final Thoughts

Because we’ve worked with several non-profits, we’d like to highlight three potentially valuable resources for those in the non-profit world:

  • Perry Davis Associates: PDA provides fundraising and development services, headquarter-style office space, back-office administrative services, staff and board training, event design and management, and other strategic tools to help non-profits succeed
  • Volunteer New York!: useful if you’re a non-profit looking for volunteers or are a volunteer looking to donate your time and skill in Westchester County or the Mid-Hudson Valley
  • Non-Profit Risk Management Blog: contains some very helpful information regarding insurance and risk management for every non-profit