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According to the EPA, the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. That's four million tons of copy paper used annually. Think about your office, and how much paper that works out to. Here at TechSoup, that would work out to almost 1.8 million sheets of paper a year. Some of the biggest ways your nonprofit or library can make an impact on your carbon footprint are through recycling used paper and moving toward a paperless office.
Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions, conserves natural resources, and saves landfill space. That's important — but the most effective way to make your office paperless is with technology.
Going entirely paperless means some up-front technology planning and investment, but in the end the costs you'll save in paper, office supplies, and especially in environmental impact will make it worthwhile. Make sure you do your homework before any technology investments, especially ones that effect your entire office, are made.
There's also a great article on building a paperless office with the steps you should take, and considerations you should make, over at How Stuff Works. According to Diane Dannenfeldt there are plenty of benefits to making your office more paperless beyond the environmental ones:
To help you understand what paper-based tasks software can help with, we've outlined the tools available for donation through TechSoup that can help you cut down your paper consumption. For more great tips and tricks on reducing your paper use, check out this blog post from TechSoup's Jim Lynch. Plus: We'll walk you through reducing your paper usage in this free webinar.
Adobe's PDF creation software – Acrobat X Pro – lets you share secure PDF files between any computer, build PDF portfolios from a variety of sources and formats, and even import live web content. Acrobat X Pro for Windows and Mac (admin fee: $45) features a straightforward interface, and allows your organization to scan documents directly into searchable text files, convert any text PDF into a Word document, and create clean and professional forms events, records, surveys, and more. We even have a helpful webinar to explain Acrobat's many uses.
There are any number of ways that nonprofits keep track of projects: manilla folders, email, databases, and, if you're like me, often notebooks and sticky notes. You might have a copy of a document you need to review sitting on your desk; relevant notes from a board member or constituents on your note pad; and the project's history tucked away in a reply-all email chain.
The Huddle Donation Program at TechSoup offers a donated, cloud-based collaboration tool (admin fee: $99 for up to 25 users for one year) that takes this scattershot system and integrates it through:
Microsoft Office (admin fee: $24–$31) is the backbone of most nonprofit and library offices. From word processing to managing email and spreadsheets, these programs are the standard in office productivity software. Office suites include:
The Standard, Professional Plus and Mac versions of Office each contain additional programs as well. See our product descriptions for more details.
For details on how the Microsoft donation program at TechSoup works, we've put together a handy introductory webinar for you. Microsoft's donation program offers a lot of flexibility in when you can request donations, and in the product donations available. And, to make navigating the program easier, we're created the Microsoft Donation Center, where eligible organizations can track Microsoft requests, see donations received to date, and more.
Wondering how to direct new grant funding, or whether or not your library should invest in e-books? Bring your community in to your discussions through surveys and polls. With FluidSurveys Pro (admin fee: $30), your nonprofit or library has a quick and direct way to gather feedback on new and developing programs, and stay accountable to constituents. Plus: you can do away with stacks of paper surveys your canvassers have piled up.
Staff and volunteers with even limited web experience can create customizable surveys. Unlike other survey tools, FluidSurveys Pro makes it easy for you to embed surveys in websites and blogs. And since it's cloud-based, it can be accessed from any Internet-connected computer with any operating system, including mobile devices.
With a one-year subscription to FluidSurveys Pro your organization can create an unlimited number of surveys with an unlimited number of questions in each and to collect an unlimited number of responses per survey.
Human resources software can save you time, reduce paperwork, and help you get rid of paper HR files once and for all. An HR department can easily fill an entire room with paper personnel files and folders. Storing and retrieving your HR information is made simple with Staff Manager (admin fee: $30) from Atlas Business Solutions. Customizable tabbed pages show general employee information, emergency contacts, wages, performance evaluations, notes, and associated documents — all of which can be customized by administrators.
Many nonprofits and libraries use paper timesheets for staff and volunteers — software can help you cut back on that weekly waste. ClickTime (admin fees: $30 – $85) is a cloud-based service that provides easy time tracking for all types of organizations. Great for staff and volunteers, it allows you to enter time online with ClickTime's straightforward interface. Managers have versatile yet simple control of workgroups, supported by email notifications for incomplete schedules and by various reports for billing, HR, and analysis. ClickTime users can also export data to Excel or QuickBooks and make PDF files of any report.
Patrick Duggan | TechSoup Digital Marketing Manager
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.