Safeguarding Utah’s charitable donations

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By Kristen Cox, executive director, governor’s Office of Management and Budget

During 2014, the Utah Department of Commerce’s Division of Consumer Protection registered approximately 4,500 charitable organizations.  Registering charitable organizations is just one of many ways the division works to protect consumers. Due to the high volume of very labor intensive work—a typical registration requires an intensive review of legal and financial documentation—the charity registration process was selected as a priority focus for application of the SUCCESS Framework.

After developing a baseline of historical performance, the division set a reliability standard to complete all registrations within 25 days. During July 2014, only 14 percent of registrations met this standard. However, after implementing improvement strategies, 74 percent of November registrations and 90 percent of December registrations met the 25-day reliability standard.

Increasing speed and reliability is critical for a transactional system like charity registrations. Most importantly, it provides what customers really want from any service—fast response times.  However, fast response times are also extremely beneficial from a system point of view—faster response times prevent backlogs, status checks and re-work, all of which can significantly reduce system accuracy and capacity.

The SUCCESS Framework basics that led to this dramatic improvement included:

  • Developing a performance baseline and setting a reliability standard;
  • Identifying the system critical activity (control point);
  • Mapping the registration system using a FAST (functional assessment of speed and time) diagram; and
  • Tracking a sample of registrations to determine the major causes of missing or incorrect information

From these basic steps the charities team identified several improvement strategies, including:

  • Substantially increasing capacity at the system control point by re-assigning staff responsibilities;
  • Decreasing elapsed time between process steps by working registrations in parallel and reducing the “batching” of work; and
  • Increasing the percentage of complete registrations.

By implementing these changes, staff have demonstrated a willingness to examine current processes, work hard, and affect meaningful outcomes. By doing so, Utah’s charitable donations are protected because of the dedication and professionalism of the Division of Consumer Protection employees. Thanks to the following individuals for their specific efforts to improve the process: Daniel O’Bannon (Division Director), Christy Daskalakis, Shauna DeWolf, Amy Corak, Scott Hollist and Esther Recksiek.

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