Running a non-profit organization certainly has its challenges, chief of which is creating a sense of public trust and interest. To do that, you need accountability, efficiency, a legitimate structure, and low margins in your corner. It’s a big ask from a single organization, but when you get enough people dedicated to a common cause it becomes significantly easier.
What often goes unspoken in the world of non-profits – unlike in the for-profit world –are concrete ways to achieve these goals effectively. There are numerous articles out there on the importance of transparency or the value of democracy within a non-profit, but very few articles trade in specifics. This article, then, will venture to zero in on a small part of running a non-profit, and explain it in detail. That small part: the humble ID card.
ID cards are vital to non-profit organizations for a few different reasons, which we’ll explore below. ID cards make you visible, available, accountable and legitimate. They tell people who you are and, importantly, what your purpose in the organization is. With a simple, inexpensive Polaroid ID card printing machine you can solve a lot of little issues.
Why ID Cards Are Vital To Running An Effective Non-Profit
If you reach out in person to the community, you need a simple, quick way to identify yourself and identify your affiliation to the NPO. You are acting, after all, as a representative of your organization, and short of wearing a uniform (a difficult policy to enforce) ID cards are the best way to appear as representative.
A non-profit organization is often comprised of a number of factions, with much more built-in variance than a typical organization. An NPO might have weekend volunteers, part-time volunteers, full-time volunteers, employees, management… etc. Keeping track of everyone’s role can be near impossible without a coded system of identification. Luckily, you can colour code ID cards or otherwise ensure that different roles get different cards. This helps too when you have certain limited-access spaces in your office (more on that below).
It may sound disheartening, but the bald fact of the matter is that NPOs need to hustle for their credibility, more so than for-profit companies that are able to legitimize through expansion and scale.Badges have long been regarded as a way of legitimizing either a person or an organization (or both), and here it is no different. Also, the uptick in visibility an ID card causes can be a small, subtle form of marketing.
Finally, ID cards are a wonderful preventative measure against intrusion and theft. Depending on the focus of your non-profit (i.e. whether it’s a hot-button issue), you may need security measures in place to exclude protesters from getting inside the premises, and while manned security can be expensive, ID cards offer a cost-effective alternative. Order cards with a magstripe or proxy function, and you can make it so a card has to be swiped or tapped in order to enter.
This also applies to restricted areas within your workspace – if, for instance, you don’t want part-time volunteers to have access to the room where you keep files, you can encode their card in such a way that they can enter the main door but not that particular room’s door.
Although it may seem like a small item among many, ID cards really are vital to running an effective non-profit.