5 Processes nonprofits didn’t know they could automate

Nonprofit organizations must find community partners, recruit volunteers, and raise funds to carry out their mission. However, repetitive manual tasks like data entry often get in the way of such objectives. They cut into the time nonprofits would rather devote to more mission-critical work, and they’re prone to costly errors that may result in compliance issues.

Workflow automation eliminates tedious and time-consuming tasks so your staff can focus on what’s important. In fact, there are five business processes that make great candidates for automation.

Donor management
Building a strong relationship with donors is crucial for nonprofits, so automating your communications can be a game changer. Document management systems (DMS) allow you to quickly capture donor information and plug it into a donor management database where you can track contributions and demographics.

When someone makes a contribution, you can trigger an automated workflow that reminds gift officers to thank the donor over the phone or email. These workflows can also forward donor information to coordinators, so they can fine-tune their messages and calls.

Gift processing
Since several steps are involved in gift processing, there are plenty of opportunities for automation. For instance, you can design a workflow that automatically routes pledges and donations to a gifting database like Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge. The software can also be pre-programmed to check for duplicate data, incorrect financial totals, and other inconsistencies that must be corrected before data entries are reconciled and posted in the company’s general ledger.

The payroll process can be a nightmare, especially if you have employees and volunteers scattered across several locations. It requires someone to collect time cards and input them into the system. Payroll staff will then have to spend hours manually checking spreadsheets to validate payable hours and produce payslips.

This process is much more efficient when automation is brought into the mix. Instead of manually inputting data into the payroll software, employees can scan time cards using mobile DMS. The payroll software can then validate and compute wages, and forward payslips to the right staff with minimal human intervention.

Whether it’s for volunteer work or employment, the application process requires a lot of data entry and manual oversight. Applicants have to fill in long forms while recruiters have to process the information and sift through a sea of records just to find the best candidate. This increases costs, extends time to hire, and may increase attrition rates.

Automation streamlines every aspect of the hiring process. You can apply conditional logic into online forms to show or hide certain fields based on an applicant’s responses. If an applicant indicates they were referred by an existing employee, for example, a new panel will appear asking “who referred you?” This makes applications more concise and reduces form abandonment rates. You can even create automated reminders to follow up on incomplete applications.

These smart forms will feed data directly into your HR database, where it will be automatically tagged and indexed. From there, recruiters only need to search for specific keywords to quickly identify relevant candidates from thousands of applications.

Regulatory compliance
501(c)(3) nonprofits are kept in check by government regulations, so they don’t abuse their financial advantages like tax exemptions and public funding. To comply, organizations must submit tax forms and keep accurate records of grants received, accrued expenses and revenue, and bank statements. However, if your company manages all this paperwork by hand, you’re bound to make mistakes that could lead to noncompliance

Workflow automation makes it easy to file for tax-exempt status and maintain compliance. For one, it allows you to automatically sort pertinent financial information in a folder to streamline tax submissions and audits. When paired with accounting systems like Intacct, you can even generate compliance reports in seconds. What’s more, workflow automation gives you notifications for when to file annual reports and when federal and state laws change.

Workflow automation solves many of the headaches nonprofit organizations face every day. In fact, this blog post has only scratched the surface of what automation can do. If you want to streamline your operations, PaperSave’s electronic workflow feature is your best option. Find out why by signing up for a free personalized demo today.

It’s really easy now for employees to create their expense reports. From the app or their computer, they just select the expense lines they want to include on the report and submit it. It then starts routing automatically through the approval process we’ve set up.

— Joe Crupper, CPA, Director of General and Trust Accounting at Free Methodist Foundation

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