According to the Nonprofit Finance Fund, there were 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the United States as of 2012. These non-profit organizations function thanks to a range of different funding models and funding resources and work to achieve a wide variety of different goals. Many of them do a lot of good, too, seeking to provide vital social services for citizens who can’t afford them, to support education, to bolster the continued reach and impact of the arts, and more.
Unfortunately, many non-profit organizations are struggling. Just as many businesses and independent citizens were hurt by the economic downturn of 2008, non-profits were left stuck between a rock and a hard place. These organizations still had goals they wanted to achieve, interests they wanted to protect, and citizens they wanted to support, but much of their funding dried up. Quite simply, with individual donors, small businesses, and large corporations hit hard by the recession, non-profits have struggled to find the same funding streams that once drove many of their programs and initiatives.
A Consistent Problem
Of course, it’s not 2008 anymore. This year will mark 8 years since the housing market bubble burst and the ensuing start of the Great Recession. However, while there are plenty of signs of economic recovery to be found today—from lower unemployment rates to a recovering housing market—nonprofit organizations are not among the entities that have emerged from the recession just yet.
Indeed, in 2014, Bank of America conducted a survey of more than 5,000 non-profit organizations throughout the country. The findings were worrisome. According to the report, non-profit funding figures just aren’t keeping pace with demand. In 2013, 4 out of every 5 nonprofit organizations reported that demand for their services had increased compared to the previous year. Since 2013 also marked the 6th consecutive year for increased demand, the chances are pretty good that the need or want for non-profit services has only continued to grow.
The growth in demand for non-profit services is good though, right? Not if the organizations are overextended. The Bank of America report also noted that more than half of the non-profits surveyed—56%, to be exact—were unable to meet the increased level of demand. In other words, because of funding issues, non-profits are leaving people and organizations in need of their services out in the cold.
Solving the Problem by Revamping Internal Processes
The silver lining in the Bank of America report was that non-profits weren’t just standing still, waiting for the economy to turn around. Most were looking for ways that they could adapt to survey the changing economic landscape. Of course, there were multiple different courses of action cited for these survival plans, from searching for new ways to raise money to partnering or collaborating with other organizations.
Some of the biggest solutions, though, involved revamping internal processes instead of looking to external sources for a solution. Indeed, 48% of organizations were investing in professional development, 39% were looking at their long-term financial planning strategies, and 40% were upgrading hardware and software to become more efficient.
The latter course of action is arguably the best option available to non-profits at the moment. While improved business process management and organization would not necessarily solve the funding problem itself, it would help non-profits to become leaner and more efficient. By adopting document management software, establishing automated workflows, and going paperless, non-profit organizations would be able to create new models of operations that would cut bloat, save money, and free up employee time. All of these factors could, in turn, help boost revenues, from redirecting money from printing and storage costs into outreach initiatives to giving workers more time to chase down donations or write grants.
The Possible Benefits of DMS for Non-Profit Organizations
How can document management software help non-profit organizations improve their internal processes? There are so many ways that non-profits could reap the benefits of DMS technology that it would take too much space to list them all, but here are just a few:
- Productivity: How much time do non-profit employees or volunteers spend looking for the correct grant forms, donation receipts, donor files, or other documents? When everything is digitized, it can easily be organized and searched on the computer—making the process of finding, accessing, and editing files faster than ever before.
- Paperless: Paper costs money; ink and toner cost money; the storage space necessary to keep paper files costs money; hiring someone to dispose of paper files costs money. By adopting a DMS and going paperless, you cut all of those costs—making it easier to operate on a shoestring budget.
- Security and Compliance: File rooms and filing cabinets aren’t secure, and they certainly don’t allow you to automate document management factors to comply with government standards. Good document management systems like eFileCabinet boast encryption and user-based file securities, and they come with built-in government compliance.
From religious organizations to orchestras, every non-profit organization can benefit from revamping internal processes and choosing document management software. Indeed, by trimming spending, boosting efficiency and productivity, and making it easier to manage a budget, a DMS can virtually become a non-profit funding model of its own.