When it comes to supporting a remote workforce, third sector organisations tend to blanch at the perceived technology and infrastructure costs required to do so. In truth, however, there are plenty of bottom-line benefits that remote workers can bring to a non-profit. One study even found that remote workers can provide a productivity boost equivalent to a whole extra day of work per week – which can be a boon to a non-profit whose most critical task is preserving as much of the funding they raise as possible for their cause.
As it turns out, one of the most cost-effective ways for a non-profit to take advantage of the benefits of remote workers is to develop a strategy to support off-site work by their fundraising staff. According to Merchant Savvy, 73% of people in the UK already consider flexible working arrangements to be the new normal, and offering the ability to work remotely can also make it much easier to attract and retain top-performing fundraisers. That’s essential at a time when some research now indicates that up to 93% of UK charities are struggling to do just that.
It’s also critical to recognise that many organisations should already have some of the tools in place to enable such a move, due to the increasing digitisation that’s already reshaping the sector. Here’s an overview of what those tools are, to serve as a roadmap for any organisation considering supporting remote fundraising staff.
A Cloud-based desktop solution
One of the major roadblocks associated with supporting remote fundraisers is providing them with the same kind of resources and environment they’d have access to in the main office. In the past, the IT infrastructure needed to support that could involve unsustainable costs for a non-profit. Today, however, with the recent advances in cloud technology, that doesn’t have to be a hindrance anymore.
One way to overcome this obstacle is to make use of a cloud-based desktop system. Not only can it free the main office from the costs associated with on-site equipment maintenance and repair, but they can also provide a significant boost to data security at a time when digital threats to the sector are on the rise. Also, as is the case with many other services, there are several UK-based cloud desktop providers with low-cost offerings geared toward charities which will simultaneously lower capital costs and enable support of remote fundraisers.
Mobile payment processing
Since the most important function of fundraising staff is to collect pledges from donors, it’s fair to say that the most critical tool they need to do their job is a flexible mobile payment processing solution. This is another area where non-profits should already have what they need to support remote fundraisers, but if not, mobile payment processing hardware can be had for as little as £19 per unit.
Better still, they can integrate a solution like Stripe right into their existing web properties with a drop-in solution. With it, they gain a secure, flexible online donation system that fundraisers can use from anywhere they’re working. The system also serves as an always-on donation portal that works to bring in funds at every hour of the day or night.
To complete the technology toolkit that a remote fundraiser needs to succeed, the last major piece of the puzzle is access to the non-profit’s communication system. That means providing them with voice over IP (VoIP) telephony service that may be used from wherever they’re working. For non-profits who already use such systems in their main offices, this is usually a simple matter of purchasing an additional handset for each remote fundraiser.
For non-profits with no existing VoIP capabilities, converting to one isn’t as costly as one might assume. In fact, many of the UK’s leading VoIP providers have special charity service rates and will even provide heavily subsidized equipment to qualified non-profits to minimise costs. Some will even offer services at no cost to the organisation, provided they only need to support 20 fundraisers or less. In any case, VoIP systems are almost always less costly than conventional phone service and should be under consideration already anyway.
The key to thriving fundraisers
It should be clear at this point that it’s not as difficult to support remote fundraisers as it may have initially seemed. On the contrary, most non-profits should already have the basic elements they need in place to do the job. For those that don’t, the costs should be rather minimal and the necessary expenditures are sound operating decisions in their own right. The bottom line question that non-profit decision-makers must ask is why they haven’t explored building a remote fundraising workforce to begin with. After all, there’s so much to gain and so much opportunity to do even more good – and isn’t that the point?
Philip Piletic. My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. I’m a writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites. In love with startups, the latest tech trends and helping others get their ideas off the ground.
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