How to Improve Document Management for Nonprofits

How to Improve Document Management for Nonprofits
  • 17

How to Improve Document Management for Nonprofits

If you are running a nonprofit, then you know the pressure to carefully utilize your time and money. Document management is an intelligent move for those in this sector. Not only is it a big money saver it will also save your employees and volunteers a lot of valuable time. What organization wouldn’t want more time to focus directly on the mission? But, it’s not enough to simply decide to digitize your forms and documents. There are ways to improve its usability within your office. Now that you’ve decided to go the document management route, let’s look at a few ways to make sure you’re optimizing your impact.

Define your current document management needs

Before you can make the move to go online with your data, there are several things to take into account. You must first outline your document management goals. What types of documents do you handle? What is their current paper trail? It’s important to know the current lifespan of each of your paper records and when those papers can be digitized. Are there restrictions on how long you have to keep hard copies of certain files? Are there documents that can be uploaded and shredded immediately? A thoughtful mapping of your most important information grouped by their result can help you get the best possible start to reducing the hard copy files in your office. The sooner you can identify your needs and begin to utilize the system, the less likely your office space is going to get overwhelmed with forms.

Implement thoughtfully

A plan is a great thing, but it is nothing if you do not take time for thoughtful implementation. Setting up a clear digital structure to your document management and making it easy to access is crucial. Volunteers and staff will appreciate a system with easy access and uploading. It’s also more likely to be followed if you take the time to analyze which employees will be responsible for which documents and forms. Communicate a clear plan to employees about transitioning online. Do you have enough scanning stations? Have you trained those employees tasked with keeping the document management system up-to-date? Make sure that the documents and forms your employees or volunteers are responsible for are accessible, up-to-date and user-friendly. It’s particularly important to keep user frustration down so you can retain your volunteers and focus their work on things they enjoy doing.

Monitor changing regulations and security requirements

It would be wonderful to think you could set-up your document management process and follow it until the end of time, but he truth is that regulations and security requirements change. Some change often. It will be crucial to make sure you are monitoring your current systems. If regulations change, you can make immediate adjustments to your system. No one wants to be caught off guard at an audit without the hard copies of certain files that you are now required to have. Make sure your strategy for moving online includes steps to ensure you stay within regulation. This may involve appointing a staff member or board member to stay abreast of any changes.

Digitizing data is an optimal solution for nonprofits. The reduction of spending, manpower and waste show that you are being both financially conservative and environmentally conscious. You’ll be able to consolidate into a smaller office space and there won’t be the need for bulky filing cabinets. Additionally, sending forms out into the field online will likely increase responses. Most importantly, it will allow you the freedom to focus most of your efforts on the work that your nonprofit was set up to achieve.