The US has been home to more than 200,000 nonprofit organizations since the 1970s, spanning diverse interests such as religion, literacy, global humanitarian efforts, and animal welfare.
A quirk particular to this industry is that growth can be exceptionally hard to achieve, especially if your nonprofit is geared more towards long-term structural change rather than the delivery of quick-fix ‘magic bullet’ products to certain segments of the population.
You may have some questions about nonprofit growth:
‘How can we keep track of expansion into different regions?’
‘How do we ensure our donors keep coming back every quarter?’
‘How do we free up time spent on administrative tasks so we can focus more fully on growth?’
On the surface, software solutions can sound dull and so unlike the zany growth-hacks being praised on countless Twitter feeds. Even so, asset tracking software can genuinely help, enabling your nonprofit to achieve its goals of growth in a number of different ways.
We’ll take you through some of them below.
Metrics made easy
All successful organizations keep track of certain metrics to measure performance. These metrics could relate to their profitability, for example, or annual productivity.
If you’re a nonprofit, though, one of the metrics you really must focus on is your return on investment (the percentage of net profit over the total cost of investment). This is because having too many ‘negative net assets’ is a good way to kill your nonprofit entirely!
This is why – unlike with for-profit organizations that have a bit more leeway in this sphere – not only is funding extremely vital to the success of your organization, but you also need to lower the amount of liabilities those funds ultimately have to support in a shorter span of time.
Of course, your donors and investors would like to keep track of exactly what their contributions have achieved. The effect of ‘impact investment’ – pouring funds into organizations with the expectation of producing a viable and measurable social benefit – has also played a part.
This is because standardized and empirical measures of success, like the need for nonprofits to fill out full-bodied IRIS catalogues, has transformed the kinds of information a nonprofit is expected to routinely provide to its donors.
Not only will a solid asset tracking software help you track your ROI more effectively, but it will actually improve it! It lets you easily see which assets are being under- or over-utilized, for example, or whether an asset is less productive because its maintenance is overdue.
Of course, if there’s one thing an asset management tool promises to do, it’s optimize your resources. You’re not just increasing asset ROI, or freeing up time for both yourself and your volunteers, or not investing new hires for custodianship of assets, you’re also making direct, literal savings.
For example, some American states now regulate the amount a charity can spend on ‘overheads.’ As a result of this, growth can be particularly hard because the associated increase in overhead costs can be unavoidable unless you enact a structural change.
This kind of change is possible with asset tracking software. In this sense, being able to track your assets allows your organization to be far more agile and ready to meet all the curveballs associated with running a modern nonprofit. In fact, some companies also provide discounts to nonprofits, to help them meet their organizational goals even better!
Up-to-date information allows you to notice and exploit new trends as they surface, which is helped further when you know where the people you want to assign to certain projects are in relation to your business assets. The importance of this is apparent when you realize that many nonprofits have staff spread out away from the central office, working from home or even delivering services first-hand in different locations.
These individuals will all have custody of different equipment – be it cameras to document a charity event, cars to reach a specific venue, or medical supplies to take to a hospital. This is why asset tracking software is especially suited to promote the growth of nonprofits.
On average, 3 out of every 4 donors who support a nonprofit make an active decision to stop funding the organization at some point. In addition, only one nonprofit for every 319 businesses will reach an annual budget of $50,000,000. There is no surprise then that donor retention seems to be a top priority for a lot of nonprofit organizations.
The great thing about asset tracking software is that it can help you point out opportunities, especially if the product comes bundled with the ability to draw up custom reports relating to your use of assets.
You might realize that your volunteers don’t have the tools or equipment to help as much as they possibly could – for example, a shortage of laptops to make conference calls with out-of-state donors. A well-oiled asset management system can make your entire operation run a lot more smoothly, creating donor confidence and showing them exactly what their contributions are being used for. Not just this, but the increased transparency afforded by this rich data shows you to be viable, worthwhile, investable – all important qualities for nonprofits.
You can also then add all kinds of asset information to your annual reports and fundraising letters, giving your donors and potential donors a more nuanced insight into your operations. You can even keep a record of which assets were bought through specific donor contributions, or categorize goods-contributions separately! This allows better organization of information, and helps create linkages between donors and the individual impact they’ve had – which is certainly a good way to keep up donor interest!
Some nonprofits don’t just find it hard to grow generally, but can feel the pressure particularly in terms of physical expansion. This is because nonprofits can sometimes start off as a community effort, sourcing volunteers, resources and funds very strongly from their immediate surroundings. Geographical diversification can thus be tough, as nonprofits find it hard to keep track of all the equipment they have, where everything currently is, where it needs to be, and to have an accurate enough information map so they can move people and things around in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
This can be a particular pain point if your nonprofit is the kind that often has to improvise and react to natural disasters, for example, or the global movement of people. The relational organization of assets can therefore be extremely helpful in letting you make decisions quickly and effectively.
This kind of hyper-connected information – linking assets together based on their use, location, and access – can help provide a much more centralized and synthesized structure to your nonprofit. This does not just relate to the assets themselves, but spills over into creating linkages around vendors, volunteers, donors, advocates, etc. In this way, the larger trends, missteps, and opportunities of the nonprofit or industry can be identified a lot easier.
Create economies of time
One of the best things about asset tracking software for nonprofits is that it allows you to create huge economies of time. 71% of nonprofits have listed staff shortage as a major challenge they have to contend with when drawing up strategies.
Volunteers at your nonprofit will have a lot more time to devote to priority tasks such as liaising with donors, reaching out to government advocates, or organizing charity drives if the assets are taken care of from the get-go.
This kind of tactic is especially beneficial for smaller operations with limited resources. It is no surprise then that small organizations adopt innovative tech ideas at a higher rate than their larger counterparts, since the adoption of the right software tools can spark a virtuous cycle of progress!
By automating and streamlining tasks associated with the management and tracking of assets, not only do you rid yourself of the expense of hiring someone to do this tedious job manually, but you create other benefits as well. A good asset tracking software not only helps control assets, but can also help manage risks associated with weak employee accountability, for example, or poor management of inventory stock.
There are a lot of asset tracking software solutions out there, but cloud-based services seem to have a leg up over other alternatives. In fact, in a survey of nonprofit organizations, 39% said they had improved access because of the employment of cloud services, while 28% said it optimized their overall performance and helped them meet their nonprofit mission much more effectively.
Nonprofits can find it difficult to achieve growth at a sustainable pace. This could be because of their inability to retain donors, for example, or because they struggle to find a foothold as they expand into new regions. Nonprofit assets tracking software can help alleviate a lot of these concerns, aiding nonprofit growth while simultaneously lowering costs and increasing returns on investment.
Have you found other innovative ways to grow your nonprofit and automate the manual work in your organization? Add your experiences in the comments!
Looking for Nonprofit software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Nonprofit software solutions.