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nonprofit staffer logging on to docusign from his mobile phone to complete e-signatures

How TechSoup Uses DocuSign to Serve Multisite Nonprofits

As the world becomes increasingly mobile and paperless, securing signatures on critical documents remains a common challenge. And up until last year, Aaron Dowell, team leader at TechSoup, would also have faced this challenge.

He and his team handle technology needs for large nonprofits with more than 10 locations, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the YMCA, and the United Methodist Church. This specialized service requires a different approval process than what's familiar to an average TechSoup member. Specialists handle bundled registrations and product requests for multiple chapters, large-scale requests across different locations, and more.

Because registration and requesting isn't completed manually by the organizations themselves, it's necessary for a specialist to reach out. That person must contact someone at each nonprofit to gather the signatures necessary at each step of the process. This process used to be a cumbersome bump in the road to getting mission-critical technology into the hands of organizations that serve tens of thousands of people each day.

But last year, Aaron and his team started using e-signatures with DocuSign. Since then, things have been running much more smoothly — resulting in a higher volume of services delivered to some of the highest impact nonprofits in the world.

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Increased Services Require More Signatures

illustration of a nonprofit digital document that is ready for electronic signature

Prior to 2018, Aaron and his team did things the old-fashioned way: Send an email attachment to be printed, signed, scanned, uploaded, and returned.

"Truthfully, we didn't really have a satisfying process before we started using DocuSign; it felt more ad hoc than we would have liked it to be," Aaron said. He noted that although the process they were using might seem simple enough, it would still significantly slow down the additional processes a specialist must complete on an organization's behalf.

When a nonprofit becomes a TechSoup member, it must first sign and agree to TechSoup's terms of use and privacy policy. For a large organization, a member of Aaron's team is sending and collecting these documents.

In addition, for an organization to bulk-register many different locations, the point of contact must sign our data use agreement. This agreement states that they have the authority to have their organization's locations registered with TechSoup for our products and services.

Lastly, the point of contact must also provide a signature accepting the terms and conditions of a given donation or discounted product when bulk requests are made through a specialist. Now, all three of these documents can be included into a single DocuSign "envelope."

"When you're working with someone who has so many other things to think about, and your goal is to remove even the smallest of time barriers from their plate and from the project timeline, you want to find a quicker, more user-friendly process.

"It would sometimes take a round of back-and-forth emails before we received a signature," Aaron explained. "DocuSign was exactly the solution we needed. Plus, DocuSign just felt more in line with the type of tool TechSoup, as an innovator and connector, would use."

Improved Workflows with E-Signatures

Aaron reports that he's seen demonstrable improvements since his team made the switch to e-signatures using DocuSign.

"If there's one lesson that I've taken from working on large projects, it's that time is money," he said. "And DocuSign reduces time and saves money! It's extremely convenient and easy to use, and with the drag-and-drop process, it only takes a quick moment for a specialist to log on and send the request to an organization's point of contact. It also helps you keep track of your signature requests with status updates so you know who has completed the signature process and who might need a nudge or reminder."

DocuSign doesn't require the receiving party to have its software. So there's rarely any hassle securing the appropriate approvals and agreements in a fraction of the time the traditional signature process would take.

"It's pretty gratifying to see the client responses come in quickly to your inbox," Aaron said. "I also think that it makes our members feel more confident in our ability to serve enterprise-level requests for a software program they in some cases use across the world."

Removed Barriers Equals Greater Impact

By reducing complications and wait times associated with signature gathering, Aaron's team ultimately gets more technology into the hands of more change agents across the world. In addition to accommodating larger-scale technology requests, his team provides hands-on guidance to organizations deciding which software, hardware, and services they need. This process is also made easier with less time needed for managing an unwieldy process for securing signatures.

On average, Aaron's team saves each multisite nonprofit more than $380,000 a year in technology purchases. And this savings will only increase as the scope of the team continues to expand to more and more large-scale organizations.

"Keeping to a project timeline is critical with our members we support because, ultimately, their goal is to help often underserved and marginalized communities," Aaron said. "Removing even the smallest of barriers helps us help them help others."

If you are part of a large nonprofit and would like assistance in providing TechSoup products and resources to multiple locations, please email Aaron's team at mmd [at] techsoup [dot] org.

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Additional Resources: How Nonprofits Can Harness the Power of E-Signatures