Nonprofits and Asset Tracking Software
In 2015, around 1.5 million nonprofits were registered with the IRS, and this number has only increased in recent years. These organizations have their work cut out for them; they must establish themselves as legitimate, get the right people interested in their initiatives, and manage well-intentioned but inexperienced volunteers all at the same time. Nonprofits can also be extremely asset-intensive, trying to use all the tools and equipment they can get to ultimately lower overheads, streamline operations, and make volunteer effort count. As an example, 35% of all nonprofits registered with the IRS in 2013 identified $5.17 trillion in assets.
How does an organization juggling all the characteristic responsibilities and expectations of a nonprofit manage all its equipment? Below, we’ll look at three of the major problems faced by nonprofits, and how an asset tracking software can help overcome them.
Donations are at an all time low
Nonprofits rely on people’s generosity and a robust and well-organized infrastructure to ensure they have adequate resources to pull off their initiatives. Alarmingly, however, Americans are spending a smaller proportion of their incomes on charity now than they were a decade ago. It’s not just funds donated to nonprofits that have been on the decline in recent years; even volunteering rates fell between 2014 and 2015. This, coupled with a tough economic climate, and a steady but substantial growth in the number of nonprofits has meant that resources are spread across these institutions rather thinly, and at any rate are fairly unpredictable.
This is why it is crucial for nonprofits to manage the little resources they have effectively, and plan for the future as best as they can. Not just this, but they need to utilize tools that will actually lower overheads for them, and allow them to see the ways in which they can optimize processes every step of the way. An asset tracking software with in-depth reports and analytics can help greatly in this regard. Not just this, but keeping a list of assets on the system that updates in real time can also help with resource allocation, ensuring your volunteers have the tools they need to get their job done as effortlessly as possible. This can help combat some of the problems associated with people choosing to ‘hold back’ rather than donating to the charities of their choice.
Training all new volunteers is impractical
Another big nonprofit problem is that often, the people in charge of daily operations are overworked, with little time or funds to spend training individuals who come in to volunteer. It can even be argued that training all new volunteers is ultimately extremely expensive. This is because volunteering is both seasonal and short-term, and investing energy teaching every new volunteer ‘the ropes’ will increase training costs exponentially. In asset management terms, what’s needed is a system that thinks intelligently, and does a lot of the work for you. Automated alerts sent to relevant parties when stocks are low, for example, or reminding you to send an item into maintenance, can be very helpful.
This is especially important because, as shown below, ‘administrative and support’ tasks take up about 23.5% of all volunteer time. This could include things like writing proposals, drafting requests for grants, organizing events, and of course, ensuring that all the nonprofit’s equipment and inventory is well-ordered, functional, and available when needed.
Imagine the opportunities for research and outreach if a significant portion of the time spent on administrative tasks relating to equipment management could be absorbed by an asset tracking software. Getting machines to do things they do best, while allowing volunteers to focus on care and service would be a great way to improve nonprofit functionality.
It’s hard to supervise activities ‘on the field’
Another drawback of having volunteers that come and go, are unpaid, and don’t have a contractual obligation towards the institution in question, is that of accountability. It can be very difficult to enforce strict rules for volunteers who are giving up their time to help out for the sake of a cause close to their heart. However, it must not be forgotten that nonprofits are in many ways no different from other businesses. In fact, as far as businesses go, they do their part splendidly. In 2013, the sector contributed around $905.9 billion towards the US economy. Since the money going into nonprofits mostly comes from people’s trust in the sector itself, stopping the mismanagement of funds and assets is especially crucial here.
There are many ways to raise accountability in this scenario, especially for nonprofit equipment. One of these ways is by using an asset tracking software. It stores all kinds of data that will help you bolster security, including where all your assets are, who has access to them, and when they’re due back. You can even use a mobile app to make sure all ‘on the field’ activities relating to equipment movement or usage are well-documented. In this way, administrators never have to be disconnected from on-site volunteer work, and can easily answer to donors whenever they need to.
Asset tracking software can be a very handy tool for nonprofits wanting to lower overheads, automate processes, and increase accountability. You can use reports to figure out which investments are working out for you, or see maintenance trends to make well-informed decisions about equipment usability. Mobile apps can be used to keep track of assets ‘on the go’, enabling more accurate information management all the time, anytime.
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