Does your non-profit have a clear, consistent photo ID badge policy?

The need for secure, reliable personnel identification transcends government and industry, but non-profits generally need to implement such policies even more than corporations. Employees and volunteers in our vital non-profit sector must be able to immediately reassure anyone that they are a bona-fide representative of their organization.

Non-profit support

Whether staff members are delivering vital services to clients, running operations, or soliciting support, a quick glance at their photo ID card should immediately confirm who they are associated with to anyone they come in contact with. Best practices in the most well-run non-profits now consistently include a clear, well-enforced photo ID card policy.  Once instituted, wearing a badge becomes common practice for everyone throughout the organization. Professional ID cards should be issued to each new hire, with clear instructions on expectations concerning the wearing of the badge. Your organization should be able to produce these cards quickly and efficiently for staff members and volunteers.

Executives and senior managers sometimes believe that their organization’s rules on ID cards don’t apply to them.  However, even if their position or role is less frequently questioned, they nevertheless have an obligation to set an example for the rest of the organization.  Their behavior displaying prominently their ID badge should be a model for the rest of the team.

Cards are also very important for volunteers. Volunteer team members are often less familiar with the organization and less able to answer questions about the organization when asked.  This might lead some people to question the volunteer’s or even the organization’s intentions. A professional photo ID card is the cheapest and easiest way to support the important role these individuals play in your organization. This is particularly true, for example, during a fund-raising campaign where volunteers may be soliciting cash donations in person.  An inexpensive badge also tells volunteers that the organization values them as much as employees. They will wear a great-looking card with pride.

Putting Your Policy into Action

Once you’ve decided to adopt an ID card policy, what’s the best way to implement it? Some organizations may be tempted to try to save money with do-it-yourself methods such as printing paper nametags, or by producing cards with a color printer and a laminator. Many years ago such cards may have been adequate, but today they make an organization appear amateur and reflect poorly on its professionalism. Paper badges are easily copied — it’s terrible to have cards that can be easily pirated.   And paper badges wear out notoriously quickly.  As a result, the impact of such cards is often negative.

Fortunately, in recent years it has become easier and cheaper to outsource the printing of professional ID cards with the arrival of a whole new class of advanced cloud-based services. It is no longer necessary to incur the substantial expense of buying specialized equipment, training staff, and providing for ongoing support and maintenance of the hardware. Today, there are a number of online card-production services that provide fast delivery, at a very low cost, to meet all your ID card requirements.  Cards are printed on credit-card style plastic, making them extremely durable and also fraud-resistant.  Americans have become familiar with photo ID cards of this type, since they’re constantly present on TV shows like “Scrubs” and “C.S.I.”

Outsourcing presents an excellent option for non-profits of all types and sizes since in-house production requires time, expertise, and capital investment. Specialized printers, such as those used by the department of motor vehicles, are now generally reserved only for the largest organizations that need to produce large numbers of cards every day.

Not just smaller nonprofits, but even large nonprofits are well served by outsourcing.  Cloud service companies can also ease the burden of distributing cards to multiple office locations or even directly to employee homes. It’s all done over the web, efficiently and easily. The benefits of outsourced ID card production actually multiply for nonprofits with numerous offices. The head office can completely avoid the hassle of receiving photos and data, producing cards, and sending them back out to the right location. Each location can order its own cards online as they hire staff and have them delivered directly to the office.  The card company can even drop-ship individual ID cards, along with badge holders and lanyards, to staff members’ homes.  Yet headquarters still maintains visibility and control across the entire network.

Greater Efficiency, Lower Costs… What’s not to like?

volunteers for badgesToday, there’s really no good reason not to require all staff members to wear their photo ID card at all times. Producing photo ID cards, whether plain or with proximity and smartcard features, doesn’t have to be a distraction from you core mission anymore.

And the cost savings can be substantial.  As an example, one large organization operating a network of 60 facilities spread across several states, each with an average of 150 staff members, had projected costs of $716,000 for in-house card production over a three-year period. Outsourcing costs were projected to be only $183,000 for the same period, a savings of over half a million dollars, or 75%.

Photo ID cards, whether the simple flash type or those with advanced technology features, are becoming more common in the non-profit world.  It’s one of those seemingly small items where setting the right strategy and then finding a partner like InstantCard to handle the details can increase security, boost the brand, reassure clients, save staff time and produce significant savings.