Both missions are keys to your organization's success. And, interestingly enough, they are closely related. If you are not efficient in your primary mission, it's harder to raise money. Who wants to contribute money to an organization that squanders money?
So while nonprofits are not used to thinking in terms of profits, in this case, thinking like a for-profit company can help you achieve your goals. We need to think about how we accomplish our mission as if we are looking to increase our profits. Now in no circumstance am I suggesting that you skimp on the services that you provide. I am suggesting that delivery of services often has a lot of red tape, processes and even documents. Working with this information across different types of processes and documents presents an opportunity for automation.
Nonprofits have different constituents. Some have donors; some have volunteers, and all serve different communities. Whether your nonprofit cares for orphans or shelters the homeless, to be an excellent steward means that you address the needs of your community which includes everyone involved. And you need to document your services for all.
If we look at volunteers, there is always paperwork that needs to be filled out, records to be kept and filed, and reports to be filled out. The same is true of donors. Know who did what and when or who gave what and when is crucial to maintaining or increasing participation. When someone volunteers or donates, how much paperwork is involved? Do you ask them to fill out paperwork multiple times? With a document management system you can easily retrieve information about your volunteers and donors. You can tie it into your donor management software to get the most out of it. With electronic documents and your donor management records, you have a complete picture of what your donor has contributed. The same is true for your volunteers.
Not having the information needed when dealing with a donor or a volunteer can leave them frustrated. They can and probably will give their time or money to someone else. Make the process both painless and immediate by giving your staff immediate access to all relevant information. Think of how you feel when you call in for customer service for your credit card, or car or travel reservation. The same is true for a nonprofit. The experience needs to be smooth. That's how good companies get repeat business, and bad companies loose customers. The same is true for a nonprofit. That's one way that nonprofits can profit from great customer service.
You also have the other side of your mission, the delivery of services. Depending upon the types of services that you deliver, you might have contracts, assets or people. Again each of these comes with a host of documentation. Contract management for nonprofits can be time consuming as is asset or people management. Let's just use one example, contract management. If you contract for services for your constituents then you need to make sure that the contracts are approved in a timely manner so that the services are delivered in a timely manner. Then you have the entire audit process to make sure that the services were delivered properly. A great example of a nonprofit contract management solution was the implementation at Jhpiego, a nonprofit that provides for the delivery of healthcare services for less fortunate people around the world.
Whatever your mission, delivery of your services in an efficient manner saves your limited resources. Further, it helps assure your donor community that their gift was well used, and once again, your nonprofit profits from great customer service.