Document Management for Nonprofits: An Introduction

Nonprofits work differently than businesses, but they do have a few things in common with businesses. For one thing, running a business and running a nonprofit both require special attention to detail. For another, they both have similar document management needs. When it comes to document management for nonprofits, it’s usually best to have a centralized, secure location for document storage, especially if a nonprofit has a lot of documents to manage. What else do you need to know about document management for nonprofits? Below are some important things to keep in mind.

Document Management and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002)

Let’s start with document management and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This act has had a big impact on how nonprofit organizations have kept track of their documents over the past eighteen years. As with any organization, good document management is key for nonprofits to grow and thrive. The right document management services can ensure that a nonprofit organization maintains its overall operational and financial health. Nonprofit organizations are not publicly-traded companies. However, they do require management as such by boards of directors.

And that’s where the Sarbanes-Oxley Act comes in. The passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 dramatically changed document management in the public sector. The SOX Act requires that financial documents be audited annually. The Chief Financial Officer of the organization certifies the audit. The audit also involves someone knowledgeable in accounting with the process. The SOX Act also regulates how long documents are stored.

This means that if you run a nonprofit organization, you’ll need a highly organized document management platform. Document management for nonprofits requires several elements to make this auditing process easier. For one thing, documents should be easily searchable so that board members can track the documents that can be saved and make note of which documents should be released soon.

For another, document management should take place in a single, centralized platform, plus a backup plan. This way, nonprofits don’t risk violating the SOX Act by accidentally keeping documents. This mistake can happen if an organization has multiple versions of the same document across different platforms.

Best Practices in Document Management for Nonprofits 

Document management for nonprofits can get tricky at times. Many organizations take the leap to digital-only documents. Others store items in multiple formats. Volunteers without access to online resources require paper versions of policies and procedures. Some documents need multiple formats and locations for careful storage, such as significant historical ones.

Because document management for nonprofits is so complex, it’s important for nonprofit leaders to use best practices for document storage. We already mentioned some basics above, but what else can a nonprofit do to make sure that they keep their documents organized properly?

It all comes down to finding the right document management platform. Nonprofits have several options for their document storage and management, but the right choice will perform well across several metrics.

One such metric is security. Since nonprofit organizations save donor information, that information needs to stay secure to maintain donor trust. The best document management platforms will have tight security as well as customization options. Your document security should work right alongside your organization structure.

Next, look for a document management platform that supports simple, organized workflows. When it comes to organization, the best practices are the simplest practices. The more you can get done within a single platform, the better. This way, you’ll have an easier time keeping track of document-related tasks, you lower your risk of losing track of tasks, and you can save a lot of time.

Consider Vasion’s document management platform, for example. We don’t just help enterprises; We also help nonprofits keep their documents organized and secure. Vasion has a user-friendly platform that supports all kinds of nonprofit document-related workflows. If your organization creates its own e-forms, you can move that operation straight to your Vasion platform. Vasion makes e-form customization simple, so you can use the format that best reflects your nonprofit organization.

Vasion also has a capture function that lets users digitize analog documents. For important historical documents, this means having a backup document in case the original is lost or stolen. It also provides a way for nonprofits to share documents that could otherwise only be seen in person. For less important documents, it means being able to destroy and recycle physical copies once you’ve digitized them. This option can leave your organization with more working space and less clutter.

Vasion also makes a good option if many of your documents require signatures. Our platform supports digital signatures so that you don’t have to print a document every time you need someone to sign it. Instead, you can conveniently route documents to multiple signers, make any document signature-ready, support both internal and external users, and even ensure that digital signatures are binding.

Finally, Vasion makes it easier for nonprofits to comply with the SOX Act, especially when those nonprofits deal with a lot of documents that can otherwise become difficult to track and organize. Our central platform can keep all of your documents in one place, so you don’t have to pull documents from emails, fax notices, and other sources before your yearly audit.

Document Management That Meets Your Needs

Finally, understand that no document management program meets the needs of every nonprofit organization. Therefore, if your organization functions without advanced backups, limit the use of digital storage. However, if technology power users staff your organization, consider shifting document storage. This eliminates the hassle of physical paper files.

Want to learn more about your digital document storage options? In that case, Vasion is here to help. We can make your analog-to-digital transformation simple. You can start by scheduling your demo today, or contact us to ask your questions about nonprofit document management.

Nonprofit organizations do good work. The right document management platform can empower nonprofits to streamline that work. At Vasion, we’d be honored to help your organization stay efficient and organized.