Why Nonprofits Need Time Tracking
Why Nonprofits Need Time Tracking

Like any modern business, non-profit organizations are always being asked by their stakeholders to operate as efficiently as possible. But, beyond looking at the bottom line, how do nonprofits find out which activities are efficient and which aren’t? How does a nonprofit decide which programs are the best use of their time and which may not be as valuable? No matter what, all of a nonprofit’s efforts go towards doing good, so choosing any activity over another can be an extremely difficult choice.

The answer, like so many these days, is that it’s all about what you can glean from the information you have. To get the bottom of what really drives growth, successful nonprofits look at the time each activity takes then work backwards to find the ROI in their programs.

Time Tracking Uncovers the Cost of Your Work

When you know the true cost of a task, you can find out which activities are already efficient and which can be improved. To do that, it’s critical to have data on how much time employees spend on every task. With that information, you can more clearly understand what goes in to a project and discover how much things like writing an email campaign actually cost. Just take the salary of each person working on a given project, divide that by the number of hours they worked on the project, and you’ll be able to figure out how much you’ve paid for that activity.

When you look at all of your activities and funding sources, you can really see how well your organization is performing and which funders are the most lucrative for your nonprofit.

By keeping track of the time that specific programs and activities take, it becomes easier to estimate hours for projects, effectively allocate staff, and manage budgets. With all of that time tracking information at your fingertips, you can make sure that you’re focusing on the right projects, assigning the right staff, and working the right amount of time.

Time Tracking Leads to Stronger Teams

Now that you know which activities are ultra efficient, you can probably find who on your team is an all-star. They’ll be either very efficient (low time per completed project) or very effective (high revenue per completed project). Make sure to factor in the ancillary services that play a part in every big win, so you don’t accidentally overlook anyone’s contributions to your nonprofit’s success. And if people are spending a lot of time on those ancillary services, like administration or accounting, maybe it’s time to look for ways to streamline your process.

Beyond uncovering key players in your org, you can also use time tracking to find out how many people should be assigned to each project. By working backwards from the project hours, you can see if two or maybe even three people are needed to complete that big email campaign in time. If the data ends up telling you that you don’t have the staff to finish in time, then you can rationalize bringing in an outside contractor to help. Conversely, maybe the data shows that your team takes longer than you’d hope for things like design work, so you might want to consider outsourcing design jobs.

Time Tracking Improves the Transparency of Your Reporting

Congratulations on winning that big grant you worked so hard on landing! Now it’s time to do the work you signed up for and eventually report back to your funders. And while it’s probably not as initially rewarding as actually getting out there and actively supporting your nonprofit’s mission, good reporting is what really drives lasting relationships with funders. A great report is your last chance to showcase your organization’s strengths and authority. With solid data to back up your results, it’s easier for funders to trust your nonprofit’s results and increases their desire to work with you again.

By adding time tracking to your reporting, you can clearly show funders (and internal stakeholders too) that your group is a responsible, efficient steward of the financial support you receive. After all, so much of grant management begins and ends with financial responsibility. Factoring time spent on each activity into the equation will allow you to clearly show interested parties the true cost of your work, which perfectly pairs with the results of your good work.


Regardless of how you look at it, time tracking should be a core component of your management philosophy if you want to make smart, data-based decisions. To find out more about what time tracking can do for you, try Time IQ free for 30 days. Time IQ provides an incredibly user-friendly experience at an affordable price (and offers discounts for nonprofits too).