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

The need for personnel identification transcends government and industry, but nonprofits generally need to implement such policies even more than corporations. Representatives of nonprofits must be able to immediately reassure anyone that they are a bona-fide representative of their organization.

Whether staff members are soliciting support or delivering vital services to clients, a quick glance at their photo ID card should immediately reassure anyone they come in contact with. Best practices in well-run nonprofits now consistently include a clear, well-enforced ID card policy, and once instituted it 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. And the organization needs to produce these cards quickly and efficiently for employees.

Executives and managers sometimes feel that their organization’s rules on ID cards don’t apply to them.  However, even if their position or role is less frequently challenged, they nevertheless have an obligation to set an example for the rest of the organization.

Cards are also important for volunteers. Volunteer workers may be less familiar with the organization and less able to answer questions about the organization when challenged—and some people may question the volunteer’s authenticity. Once again, 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 individual cash donations in person. A photo badge also tells volunteers that the organization values them as much as employees. They’ll 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. Such cards may have been adequate a few years ago, but today they make an organization appear amateur and reflect poorly on its professionalism. They are easily copied—it’s worse to have cards that can be pirated than not have them at all and wear out very quickly. As a result, the impact of such cards is often counterproductive.

Fortunately, it has become far simpler to outsource production of professional cards with the advent of the web and cloud-based services. It’s no longer necessary to incur the substantial expense of acquiring specialized equipment, training staff, and ensuring ongoing support and maintenance of the hardware. Today, there are a number of online card-production services that can provide fast delivery, at a very low cost, of required ID cards. Cards are printed on-demand on credit-card style plastic, and can be extremely durable and fraud-resistant. Americans have become familiar with these cards, since they’re constantly present on TV shows like “Scrubs” and “C.S.I.”

Outsourcing presents an excellent option for nonprofits 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, which can also handle the distribution of cards to multiple offices or directly to employees. 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 directly and have them delivered directly. 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?

Today, there’s really no 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 smart features, doesn’t have to be a distraction from you core mission.

And the cost savings can be substantial. As an example, one large healthcare provider running a network of 60 assisted living facilities, 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 features, are becoming more common in the nonprofit world. It’s one of those seemingly small items where taking the right strategy and then getting the details right can increase security, boost the brand, reassure clients, save staff time and produce significant savings.