It would be difficult to imagine a world in which health and human service nonprofits didn’t exist to provide the valuable and often thankless service that society has come to take for granted. The work that these organizations do has had an incalculable impact on the lives of millions of citizens. The service society in wholly unique ways, and individuals from all walks of life benefit from them.
The importance of their work and the role they play in peoples’ lives has never been greater. At the time this article is being written, the world is seeing a once in a lifetime global pandemic that is simultaneously stressing the world’s healthcare systems and wreaking havoc on the financial well being of millions. That combination, stress on the health care system and financial downturn, creates a dangerous combination for the funding of non-profit organizations. Often, for better or worse, as the markets go, the capabilities of those funding and stakeholders who support these groups go.
In fact, the economic downturn has led to historic unemployment as businesses, non-profits included, are shedding staff at an unbelievable rate in an effort to reduce overhead costs. Without funds coming in, organizations have no other choice than to cut expenses where they can. Staff, benefits, rent, equipment, and job-specific tools are all being reduced to the bare essentials to weather the storm. In a survey conducted by Charity Navigator amid the pandemic, it was estimated that non-profits were expecting losses in revenue of nearly 39%. That same survey noted that 27% of respondents anticipated laying off staff.
This presents a unique situation for non-profit organizations. In a time when their services are most needed, they are faced with funding and staffing complications they have never faced before. There is a record demand for their services with fewer resources than ever.
The efficient and careful use of the resources allotted to non-profits often means the difference between doors being open one day and closed the next. Selecting the right tools to manage the operations of the business is key. Success and societal impact of non-profits are tied directly to clear, and effective use of funds, staff, and skills, and a direct line can be drawn from how those are used right to the systems in place to optimize them.
A robust case management system can help optimize the potential of a team and provide the greatest benefit for those it serves. The need for social service non-profits is only expected to increase over the next decade, and with it will come the need for data-driven organizational tools. Four components of case management help a case manager in transforming people’s lives.
Funders and stakeholders of non-profits keep a watchful eye when investing their resources. They look for the high-level impact of the organization, the efficiency with which the funding is used, adherence to the broader mission, transparency, and accountability, and what is next on the horizon. Case management systems make meeting these expectations that much easier.
In most situations, stakeholders who pour their resources into a non-profit are bought into the core mission of the organization. They believe in the group’s ability to have a significant impact on the community and see the group as a way for them to multiply their impact. Case management systems keep managers and clients focused and on track toward achieving this goal. They can track the entire lifecycle of service delivery and build programs that have a laser focus on client service.
Keeping the broader mission in focus will eliminate scope creep. This is critical not just at the organization level but also on the individual case level. Sticking to an agreed-upon plan will more likely result in that plan being accomplished. An organization that spreads itself thin or loses its identity becomes less effective. Any tool that can be implemented that will help to ensure that the goal – the client’s needs and plans as they relate to the organization’s global goal – will contribute to the broader mission of a non-profit.
You would be hard-pressed to find a non-profit organization that isn’t seeking to maximize production to make the best use of limited resources. In fact, operating efficiently isn’t just a buzzword ideal; it is a matter of survival. The competition for clients and funding is intense and never-ending. Proving that an organization runs efficiently helps to ensure both its near term fiscal health as well as its long term reputation for getting results.
There is no substitute for hard numbers and data when evaluating efficiency. A case management system can streamline processes, automate tasks, and reduce paperwork. Relieving this burden allows for more quality time spent servicing clients. Non-profit leaders have confidence in an efficiently run organization, which will, in turn, potentially drive them to be even more invested.
Technology has catapulted non-profits into a new era of transparency and accountability. Funders and clients have basic expectations related to knowing what an organization stands for, their financial responsibility, and their track record of effectiveness. We live in an era where consumers do more research than ever before when deciding on everything from a pair of socks to order all the way up to the health insurance plans they select for their family. This unprecedented amount of knowledge and research capability has led to a greater need to prove and provide accountability.
One of the great resources that case management systems provide is a centralized and transparent look at where cases stand and how resources are being allocated. The ability to generate on-demand reports allows for constant vigilance. Additionally, having a centralized location for data to be stored allows for anyone on the team to access client information and progress anywhere at any time. Careful record keeping and being honest about an organization’s successes and shortcomings go a long way in building public confidence.
A common attribute of stakeholders, board members, and leaders of organizations is their ability to see what lies beyond the current and near situations. They are able to see what an industry’s landscape might look like five, ten, even twenty years down the line and can anticipate what direction an organization should take to best adapt.
A case management system that provides an unflinching view of the organization’s strengths, resources, and trends can help inform decision-makers that the team is on the right path.
These factors build confidence and reinforce passion in the leaders and stakeholders of a non-profit. A more efficient and better-equipped organization serves the community better overall. The benefits of an innovative content management system are not isolated to the strategic strata, though. There are concrete advantages in the on-the-ground work as well.
Non-profit organizations and social work professions typically don’t command the high-end salaries often found in the private sector. Individuals attracted to these careers are often there because they have a passion for the organization’s mission. They have a heart for people. Maybe they feel strongly about a certain political cause or want to fight against injustice. No matter the reason, there is something driving them to that job, and it isn’t a bigger paycheck.
This means they find a lot of value and identity in their work. When passionate people have the right tools to complete their jobs, a few things happen. First, we see them at their best. When they aren’t fighting technology or searching for documentation, non-profit professionals are freed up to put their talent and passion to its full use.
Second, with more time devoted to the portion of the job that drives their passion, the less likely they are to experience burnout. In addition to offering lower salaries, non-profits also find staff working long hours. With these two factors already in play, providing the best tools possible can ease the burden of a seemingly insurmountable workload.
The third potential benefit is a result of the first two. With more time spent on the case manager’s passion and the tools to help work smarter and not harder, the likelihood that good staff can be retained is much higher. An organization can use the tools they provide their staff as a selling point for not only initial recruitment but also for retainment recruitment.
Having an informed and visionary leadership team provides direction for a non-profit. An impassioned and equipped case management team is effective both on the ground and in people’s lives. Both of these are possible with a case management system designed for the non-profit needs. Both of these groups exist, however, with a common goal. To service a client base, they feel passionate about.
In the end, a quality case management system is truly designed to provide a better product or service to the client. Those who are seeking life-changing help are the true beneficiaries.
Just as there is competition for funding and resources, there is competition for clients as well. Being equipped with the right tools, in this case, an effective case management system instills confidence to the client they are in good hands. As the case manager benefits from being able to spend more time with the aspect of the job they are passionate about due to the automation of tasks, the client becomes the ultimate beneficiary. Their services are rendered in a timely and thoughtful manner.
A client will feel valued when:
There is a lot that goes into providing service that evokes these feelings in a client, and much of it can be accomplished through having the right tool in a robust and comprehensive case management system. The alternative is not having these tools, thus driving the process of client services to be more arduous than it needs to be. This puts organizations at risk of burning out staff, losing focus, becoming less efficient and experiencing.
Non-profits, social workers, and advocacy groups fight for the disenfranchised and voiceless. They help to make individual communities and society as a whole more complete place. Most everyone, at some point in their life, interacts with one of these organizations, so their success is society’s success. By implementing case management systems, they can become efficient and effective stewards of not only their resources but also their client’s expectations ensuring their long term success.