Tips & Tricks

3 ways paper and email are slowing you down – and what to do about it

Ross May

A lot happens online today; from banking on your phone to shopping with same-day delivery, we often expect one-click access to the things we need. This is also true for any type of application. Whether they’re applying for a job, grant, scholarship, or any other program, applicants expect things to be fast, easy, online, and accessible from any device.

While the idea of moving online and going paperless isn’t new, many nonprofits have yet to make the transition, or are stuck in the in-between. Some still accept applications on paper, through mail, while others have moved their applications to email.

Unfortunately, if your organization still hosts a paper or email-based application process, not only will it be overshadowed by online content, but it will also slow down what could be a quick and easy application process. You’ll be stuck dealing with time-consuming workloads and your applicants will have a less-than ideal experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are three ways a paper or email process can slow you down and what you can do about it:

Tedious applications

Though your paper application form may only be two pages, chances are there’s additional resources that the applicant is responsible for submitting. Add in a resume, CV, two letters of reference, and some writing samples; and a simple application turns into a time-consuming process that requires a lot of coordinating and printing for the applicant.

Take a look at your submission process for applicants:

• Do they need to mail in their application?
• Do they need to scan and email their documents?
• Do they need to send their application via fax?
• Do they need to provide several copies of their application?

Submitting and communicating via post mail is slow, and status updates are few and far between. Printing, scanning and/or faxing documents adds to that time and requires the applicant to dedicate additional time to ensure proper submission of their application. If you require several copies of that application to send to reviewers or staff members, this adds cost, time, and resources that will slow the submission process further.

Applicants want a fast, clear and straightforward application process, and creating one is easier than it sounds. With the right online application management solution, you can empower applicants to review requirements and submit materials in one place (from any device), save in-progress work, and even collaborate with others. The end result? Increased submission rates and higher quality applications!

Take the example of the Giving Kitchen, who were challenged with a time-consuming paper process that stopped them from collecting enough information to grow their program. After moving online, they improved the applicant experience and reduced administrative workloads. Leah Melnick, Director of Program, notes, “With SurveyMonkey Apply, we’re able to collect more information than ever before on our applicants. Our team has grown because now that application intake is working so well, we can take initiative to grow our programs.”

To learn how leading organizations streamline application intake with SurveyMonkey Apply, watch our on-demand demo.

Inaccessible reviews

Once applicants submit, it’s a waiting game for their applications to be processed by capable administrators and reviewers. If applications are submitted in paper form or through email however, the review process can be slowed down by document management, preparation and organization. Administrators may be creating review binders or packages for their volunteers, and may even need to send these materials in the mail.

Coordinating and sending materials out for review takes a dedicated amount of time that can be hard to carve out when other priorities also fall at the top of the to-do list. When the reviewers do receive their materials, administrators have to monitor progress and ensure that deadlines are met and reviews are completed. Without an easy way to track reviewer progress, administrators are spending more time following up and less time in other areas of responsibility.

An easy way to keep reviewers happy? Enabling them to access applications online — they’ll be able to do their work anywhere, at any time (bonus!) and with an online solution, you can share applications across a group of reviewers, track their progress, and keep the process running smoothly without leaving your desk!

Create a more efficient and accessible review process with these 4 best practices.

A lengthy administrative process

Throughout the application and review, you’re spending time managing the overall process and making sure things run smoothly. With a paper-based process, administrators can find themselves using up valuable time manually sorting through applications, filtering out ineligible submissions, answering questions about how to apply, and following up with applicants and reviewers when deadlines near.

When you’re stuck spending time organizing papers, sending administrative emails, chasing applicants, or answering the same questions over and over, you’re taking time away from growing your program and improving the process. Redundant, manual tasks can have you spending time in areas that are not focused around your mission.

Leah Melnick of the Giving Kitchen recalls their own struggle. “Before moving online, our filing cabinets were full of records. It was starting to get really confusing. The backtracking, compiling data; it was getting more and more difficult to organize everything and we really needed everything to be in one place.”

Wouldn’t it be great to take back some time and spend it on program improvements? An online solution is your friend! It can help screen for eligibility, send automated email reminders, follow up with your users, and point them in the direction of a support team that can help answer process questions.

If you’re ready to streamline your application and review process, leave us your information below and we’d be happy to answer any questions that come to mind!

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