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Want to Supercharge Your Non Profit Organization? RPA can help.

Alex Zekoff

Robotic process automation has a long history of helping for-profit organizations do more with less, but what about non-profit organizations? 

By not automating their businesses, non-profits miss out on tremendous opportunities to create more significant impacts on the people and communities they serve. What's the hold-up? Awareness of the capabilities, automation affordability, and lack of automation champions within the organization are the key culprits here. Let's dive deeper into the challenges non-profit organizations face today and how automation can provide the cure. 

Challenges Facing the Non Profit Sector Today

Robotic process automation takes those repetitive and tedious tasks usually performed by human workers and gives them to digital workers. These specialized agents automate high-volume rote tasks like data entry, grabbing data from multiple applications, filling in the same information in multiple places, verifying and validating data, and more. 

Organizations of all types are full of these kinds of repetitive tasks that are prime candidates for automation, and the non-profit sector is no exception. With this in mind, let's look at the top challenges in the non-profit sector today and how RPA can help. 

Challenge #1 - Money

A recent survey of non-profit workers found that issues relating to money were at the top of the list of their concerns. Increasing growth, generating revenue, managing donors, and fundraising were some of the top-cited reasons for concern. 

How RPA can help

RPA can reduce the workload on an already stretched workforce and allow employees to focus on higher-value work. At the same time, RPA helps maximize efficiencies, providing further cost savings. 

Challenge #2 - A World in Crisis 

While all organizations can suffer the fallout of global issues, non-profits are often hit the hardest. In times of crisis, non-profits often need to extend their help to more people while watching their funds dwindle. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic had a deleterious and widespread effect on non-profits. Over half of charities saw revenue decreases, and 31% had fewer paid staff. Moreover, many had to sell assets, reduce staff, and borrow more to offset losses. 

And while the pandemic is largely behind us, the next crisis is looming on the horizon. Many countries are facing economic downturns and possible recessions in the next year. It's not difficult to imagine how this financial hardship will impact the money donors feel comfortable donating. 

How RPA Can Help

Digital workers can handle the mountain of work piling up due to staff losses. At the same time, RPA reduces the burden on the workers that remain in the organization. This is crucial because when workers suddenly have a higher workload, errors and miscalculations become more common. 

And perhaps more importantly, RPA provides much-needed protection and resilience to changing global dynamics. We can never predict what crisis is coming next, but we can strategically position ourselves to weather whatever comes our way. 

Challenge #3 - Not Leveraging Human Potential

Non-profits often attract some of the most highly educated and skilled workers in the job market. But sadly, they don't always use these great minds to their full potential. Why? Non-profits often suffer from low technological adoption. This means talented employees who may have spent many years attaining a degree and honing their skills are left to do basic admin work. 

How RPA Can Help

Robotic process automation liberates workers from mundane, manual work by handling the vast majority of simple tasks. This means skilled employees can properly apply their talents to new projects that further the non-profit's mission. 

Adoption Roadblocks for Non Profit Organization RPA

Robotic process automation has enormous potential to transform non-profit organizations for the better, so why has there historically been resistance to adoption? 

Lack of Innovation

When it comes to lack of innovation, company culture is the source of the problem. In traditional for-profit businesses, fierce competition forces companies to adapt or be left behind. These companies must strive to be cutting-edge to avoid losing market share. However, many large non-profits have very few, if any, real competitors. This drives down the pressure to innovate. Equally relevant, non-profits are often very cautious of how they spend their money - they don't want to be seen mismanaging donor funds. Hence, they're reluctant to embark on digital transformation initiatives. 

No Technology-First Approach

Due to the nature of the work at non-profits, the mission always has to come first. This is true whether the mission is education, health, human rights, animal rights, environment, or religion. The mission is the heart of the organization, so adopting a technology-first mindset can often be challenging, even if this mindset could dramatically improve the cause and the entities it serves. 

Automation Affordability

In the past, automation solutions were prohibitively expensive, leading to only the wealthiest companies being able to pursue them. Non-profits, even the larger ones, were often left out of this equation, fearing that automation was still too costly and risky. 

The situation couldn't be more different today. Automation is now more affordable than ever. Sure, there's an upfront cost, but automation offers substantial cost savings over time. Yet, despite this shift, many non-profit organizations aren't aware of how affordable automation is today, partially explaining the low adoption rates. 

Lack of Automation Champions

Automation champions are essential for facilitating automation within their departments. Often, the best automation ideas come from the bottom up - from the workers who are intimately aware of the inefficient business processes that bog down the workday. In many organizations, automation champions are the people who drive new automation projects that help the company thrive. Unfortunately, non-profits often don't make room for positive voices around automation - ideas get ignored or moved to the "later" pile. This means automation projects get stuck or don't get off the ground at all. 

Non Profit Organization RPA Use Cases

Okay, so RPA is the new frontier for non-profits, but what can it actually do? 

501 c3 Tax Confirmations and Documentation

501c and 501c3 organizations are dedicated to the general well-being of society and, as a result, are exempt from federal income tax. Of course, donors often like to check that the organizations they support have the required 501c3 status. Many non-profit organizations depend on human workers to manually compile and send 501c3 acknowledgment confirmations to their donors. This is time-consuming work that takes precious hours away from nurturing donor relationships. 

Luckily, RPA bots can help here. Smart bots can extract donation transaction data, autofill data into donation acknowledgment letters with a 501c3 receipt, and print the letter or attach it to an email for distribution. 

Donor and Giver Recognition

Acknowledgment of a good deed is a recognition that your participation in the community has value. Let's face it, people like to be praised for their charitable acts. And if non-profit organizations can empower people to feel good, those people might donate again when circumstances allow it.

RPA bots can process incoming donations and send recognition or thank you communications to the charitable actor. By using RPA bots in this way, donors know they are valued and will continue to give. However, when done manually, these tasks often slip through the net or incur significant delays, harming donor relationships. 

Fundraising

It should come as no surprise that fundraising is vital to the health of any non-profit organization. These campaigns raise awareness about the non-profit's mission, provide financial revenue, and generate opportunities for future engagement with donors.  

RPA bots can play a crucial role in setting up and managing new fundraising campaigns. For example, RPA bots can extract donor information from the CRM system or other applications, compile a list of campaign recipients, and even generate text for new campaigns by extracting relevant communications from within the business. RPA bots can also create reports that give insight into the success of current and historical fundraising campaigns by bringing together key stats like open rate, click-through rate, engagement (likes, shares, follows), and amount donated. 

Donor Management

Donor management is the process of organizing a donor's information, tracking interactions with them, and maintaining relationships. Robotic process automation can optimize and speed up processes in donor management. For example, RPA bots can handle donor onboarding, consolidate donor information between software applications, maintain spreadsheets of donors and their contact information, and more. 

Emergency Aid Requests

Delays are never good, but during times of crisis, they can be catastrophic. RPA bots can ensure emergency aid requests are processed quickly and efficiently, so people get the help they need when they need it. This is particularly crucial when unforeseen events affect many people across the population. In these situations, non-profits can quickly become overwhelmed with requests and struggle to provide timely relief. 

RPA bots combat this issue by handling the brunt of the grunt work. For example, they can process incoming requests, categorize them according to need, send the request to the appropriate team for approval, or ask for missing information from the requester. RPA bots can also set up and schedule relief payments in various banking systems. 

Reporting and Compliance

As a highly regulated sector, non-profits have many reporting and compliance requirements. Failing to meet these requirements could mean the organization incurs fines or loses its tax-exempt status. RPA bots can handle document storage and management to ensure a robust audit trail is always available for viewing. Smart bots can also flag missing or inconsistent information that could land the non-profit in hot water. 

Increased Staff and Volunteer Productivity

When non-profit staff and volunteers are freed from tedious, repetitive labor, they have more time to spend on higher-value work. Moreover, doing away with dull work boosts job satisfaction and morale, thereby fostering a more energetic and engaged workforce. The truth is that software robots can perform repetitive tasks faster than human workers and without error. So why make valuable employees suffer through this work?

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, RPA allows non-profit organizations to achieve their goals with fewer resources. It can be the catalyst for empowering non-profits to make an even more significant impact on the world. So, why wait?

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