The Paperless Nonprofit Office


Earth Day has come and gone, but managing an environmentally friendly office is a year-round endeavor. Despite all the advances of 21st-century technology, paper is still king at many modern offices. For socially conscious nonprofit organizations, the desire to reduce paper waste is a driving factor in transitioning to a paperless office. But moving to digital documentation has many benefits beyond saving trees - it can also save money, time, and countless accounting headaches.

How much does your nonprofit spend on paper? What about ink cartridges, printer and copier maintenance, postage, and document storage? A paperless or paper-reduced office can save hundreds or thousands of dollars per year. By investing in a few simple tools - like a document scanner and cloud storage system - you can shed unnecessary costs associated with high-volume printing. Instead of printing out and copying documents, you can digitally sign, annotate, and archive them from your desktop, laptop, or smartphone. Contracts and agreements can be reviewed and updated in real time, which may be especially helpful if your organization coordinates off-site events or conferences.

Likewise, an electronic bill payment system can enable you to view, approve, and pay bills from anywhere in the world. Many organizations only have one or two people who are authorized to sign checks. If they are frequently traveling or out of the office, it can be difficult to ensure that invoices are paid on time. Late fees can be a real budget-buster, but they can easily be avoided by increasing access and efficiency in your accounts payable department.

Even very small nonprofits can benefit from reducing paper usage. When you’re wearing many different hats, your time is very valuable. Instead of digging through an old filing cabinet or alphabetizing invoices, you can focus your time on more important things. Digital storage also means you can locate and access documents with a simple keyword search. With paper storage systems, a single misfiled document can easily be lost forever; digital storage, on the other hand, allows you to locate and file documents in several different ways, so nothing is every truly lost.

By backing up your digital files and applying enhanced security measures to your sensitive information, you can rest easy that your financial documents are safe and secure. Paper files are vulnerable to burglaries, fires, and flooding, but properly maintained digital storage protects your files from these kinds of disasters. Also, many cloud storage systems will allow temporary or read-only access for additional users, such as board members, auditors, or accountants. That means you can avoid transmitting sensitive documents via mail or email.

If knowledge is power and time is money, then the paperless office provides both. With on-demand access to your important documents from anywhere in the world, you’ll be fully prepared to handle any situation that may arise. Transitioning to a paperless office is not only good for the environment, but also for the health of your nonprofit organization.