No More Paper! Collect Information with Online Forms

No More Paper! Collect Information with Online Forms

Your organization’s most valuable asset is its data. Aggregating and analyzing this data allows you to gather insights into your constituents and how they engage with your organization. Data is also key to communicating the impact of your programs and fundraising strategies, both internally and externally. 

How do you collect all this data? And a better question, how do you collect this data in an efficient and user-friendly way? It used to be that paper forms were all the rage. Making a donation? Fill out this form and mail it in. Interested in an event? Write your name on the sign-up sheet. Just completed a training? Take this quiz and give us feedback.  

But paper forms require manual data entry (insert long groan here). You collect the forms, plop them on the desk of the unfortunate person tasked with getting this data into your CRM (or Excel spreadsheets), and that person must comb through ineligible handwriting and manually enter every single data point. Remember that this is your most valuable asset!  

To make collecting data more efficient and user-friendly, enter online forms. Online forms can be used for all sorts of use cases—program applications, volunteer sign-ups, donation forms, surveys, etc. No more manual data entry for your staff. 

There are tons of online form tools out there, both free and paid. Obviously, the paid tools will be more robust and contain more features for customization. Which tool is best for you will depend on your use case, budget and general tech-savviness. For example, if your organization is really big on surveys and collecting data specifically for the analysis of people’s experiences, wants and needs, SurveyMonkey is a great free option, and Qualtrics is a great paid option, both specifically designed to create and disseminate surveys. 

If you collect all sorts of information for different use cases, then a general form building tool might be best, so you only have to learn how to use one tool and don’t end up with a bunch of specialized tools. For example, you might use the same form tool for both your donation form as well as your program application. We like FormAssembly and Formstack as paid options, but there are so many free options out there! If you need to process payments on your form, such as donations or event tickets, make sure whatever tool you use can integrate with a suitable payment processor. 

For the more tech-savvy organizations out there, this is probably old news. In that case, I challenge you to think about whether the data you collect is accessible from a central location. Data is meaningless if it’s not easily accessible, which means it’s not actionable! Many online form tools can integrate with a CRM so that once someone submits a form, that data is processed and automatically synced to your database. From there, you can segment your data, gain insights into how people are engaging with your organization, and ultimately use those insights help your organization provide more services to more people. 

The possibilities are endless when you collect information digitally! If you want to discuss how your organization can benefit from online forms, don’t hesitate to get in touch