Implementing a Professional Photo ID Card Policy

By David Finkelstein

David Finkelstein
Nonprofits whose employees deal with the public, such as visiting nurses, social workers, fundraisers, and community outreach workers, need a photo ID badge policy, which, when implemented correctly, can increase security, enhance the organization’s brand, and save money.

Representatives of nonprofits must be able to immediately reassure anyone that they are a bona-fide representative of their organization. Your employees (and even volunteers) need to reassure the people they meet of their identity and good intentions. With everyone sensitized to rampant identity theft and similar misrepresentations, nonprofits must make it easy for their employees to quickly legitimize themselves.

Best practices in well-run nonprofits now consistently include a clear, well-enforced ID card policy, and once instituted it becomes common practice for everyone, throughout the organization. Professional ID cards should be issued to each new hire, with clear instructions on expectations concerning the wearing of the badge.

Cards are also important for volunteers. Volunteer workers may be less familiar with the organization and less able to answer questions about the organization when challenged ”“ and some people may question the volunteer’s authenticity. This is particularly true, for example, during a fund-raising campaign where volunteers may be soliciting individual cash donations in person. A photo badge also tells volunteers that the organization values them as much as employees.

Putting Your Policy into Action

When implementing an ID card policy, some organizations may be tempted to try to save money with do-it-yourself methods such as printing paper nametags, or by producing cards with a color printer and a laminator. Such cards may have been adequate a few years ago, but today they make an organization appear amateurish and are easily copied.

Today, there are a number of online card-production services that can provide fast delivery, at a very low cost, of required ID cards. Cards are printed on-demand on credit-card style plastic, and can be extremely durable and fraud-resistant.

Besides projecting an image of professionalism and boosting security, professionally produced cards promote your nonprofit’s brand in a subtle, effective manner. Because they incorporate your logo and your color scheme, every employee and volunteer who wears a badge becomes your brand ambassador. The card connects your brand to both the person who stands before the client, donor, or public official and to your organization.

Outsourcing presents an excellent option for nonprofits of all types and sizes since in-house production requires time, expertise, and capital investment. Specialized printers, such as those used by the department of motor vehicles, are now generally reserved only for the largest organizations that need to produce large numbers of cards every day.

Not just smaller nonprofits, but even large nonprofits, are well served by outsourcing, which can also handle the distribution of cards to multiple offices or directly to employees. Each location can order its own cards online directly and have them delivered directly. Features such as quick response (QR) codes and radio frequency technology can be added to cards to give employees secure access to facilities and/or track employee qualifications and certifications.

Greater Efficiency, Lower Costs

For example, one large healthcare provider running a network of 60 assisted living facilities, each with an average of 150 staff members, had projected costs of $716,000 for in-house card production over a three-year period. Outsourcing costs were projected to be only $183,000 for the same period, a savings of over half a million dollars, or 75%.

Photo ID cards, whether the simple flash type or those with advanced features, are becoming more common in the nonprofit world. It’s one of those seemingly small items where taking the right strategy and then getting the details right can increase security, boost the brand, reassure clients, save staff time, and produce significant savings.

David Finkelstein is president of InstantCard (, a leading provider of photo ID cards online. Contact him at 301-216-3846 or

June 2013