It's no secret that nonprofit leaders are busy people. When you're juggling multiple responsibilities, shaving off a few minutes here and there can mean the difference between making it home for a family dinner or spending another late night at the office. Small efficiencies can add up to quite a lot over time. Fortunately, today's technologies makes it easier to build in shortcuts, streamline your processes, and automate repetitive tasks.
Digitize your documents
We're big fans of the paperless office for security and communication reasons, but digital files are also a great time-saver. In the old days, we all had to carry our paper documents to the file room, organize them into various file folders, and then pull them all back out again every time we needed to look something up. But with digitized files, we can perform a simple keyword search on our computer to find exactly what we need within seconds. Digital files are quicker to organize, upload, and email to others. Bonus - you'll never need to haul boxes of dusty old files to the shredder again!
If you use QuickBooks Online for your nonprofit accounting system, you might be spending too much time navigating between different windows. Try using QBO keyboard shortcuts to quickly get where you need to go. Most other applications and programs have similar shortcuts too. Learning and using the shortcuts in commonly used programs might save a surprising amount of time, especially if you do a lot of the same tasks repeatedly.
Sign up for electronic bill payments
How much time do you spend signing checks? What about approving invoices, following up on uncleared checks, voiding or canceling payments, updating vendor addresses, and all the other aspects of paying bills? We love electronic payment systems like Bill.com, because it streamlines the entire payment process from beginning to end. Management staff can approve payments online 24/7, eliminating the time involved with writing, signing, stamping, and mailing your own checks. Did a check get lost in the mail? Stopping payment is as quick as clicking a button. And the ability to send payment via direct deposit comes in handy when you're on a time crunch.
Put systems in place
As accountants, we're very particular about our systems and procedures. Spreadsheets, checklists, and rolling calendars help us stay focused and prevent the little things from slipping through the cracks. If you're doing the same things over and over each month (or week, or quarter) it makes sense to develop a standardized method of accomplishing those tasks. This is even more important when multiple people are involved. Think - are there any tasks being unnecessarily repeated in different departments? Does everyone know exactly what their responsibilities are? Is there a way to consolidate tasks or schedule them in advance? It takes less time to perform multiple, similar tasks all at once than to spread them out in drips and drabs.
Even small tweaks can improve your overall efficiency enough to save significant amounts of time. What are your time-saving tricks for nonprofit organizations?