This popular wisdom takes a literal meaning for Project Orbis International Inc. – a nonprofit organization that works to prevent and treat blindness through training, research and advocacy. 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired and 80% of them can be cured. When you’re able to see, it can be easy to take your vision for granted.
to integrate the technology
lower costs per transaction
All activities of the organization require costs and investments. That is why a big part of Orbis’s work consists in collecting donations to support their research initiatives, training programs and advocacy campaigns. But at the same time the processing of donations also implies significant capital expenditures and human resources.
The NGO gets grants from their corporate sponsors, major donors, trusts, legacies, private contributions, foundations and government. Last year’s report shows that Orbis, including all six Affiliates, generated $157.2M in revenue and support. In order to contribute, most benefactors manually fill in a paper donation form and attach their credit card details or a cheque. And those papers make up a pile of millions pages each year, and the staff had to process the information locked inside the documents to turn it into workable money.
The Hong Kong office – Orbis International – is responsible for activities and raising funds. The team handles over 1 million paper donation forms every year. Processing financial documents is always a laborious, time-consuming and risky task.
Formerly the data input process consisted of 2 steps – manual data entry and then proofreading. Retyping was a highly errorprone process. Only one wrong figure, letter or sign could reduce a donation sum several times or prevent the organization from getting funds at all.
Furthermore, complicated manual information entry and further proofreading and correction, verification of credit card validity, donation forms classification, checking donors’ IDs with the donors database – all of these tasks took a really long time for handling a set of documents and making the donations work. In fact it affected visually impaired people, who were waiting for surgeries, and in some cases time could make a disease irreversible; medical professionals, who couldn’t fly to countries and regions where they were badly needed; hospitals, which didn’t get the necessary equipment, and so on.
Bearing this in mind, the Orbis team started looking for a data capture solution to go beyond paper-based processing payment, lower processing costs and increase efficiency.
After accurate market research and consultations, the Hong Kong office chose a data capture solution by ABBYY. The decision was based on the highest accuracy of ABBYY’s Chinese and English OCR and data capture technologies, best processing speed results, easy deployment and usage of the software with the help of user-friendly interface, direct seamless integration of the solution into Microsoft SharePoint and local ERP system, simple tools and training to create new document layouts.
The donation forms were of 5 different format types, all of them in 2 variants for credit card and check contributions, and in 2 languages – Chinese and English, which amounted to 20 different form types. Thus the set of documents consisted of either a donation form for credit card payment or a donation form for cheque payment and a cheque corresponding to the donation.
3 operators scanned the donors’ papers, after which they were uploaded into ABBYY FlexiCapture for processing. Other documents were also automatically uploaded directly from e-mail attachments and faxes.
ABBYY data capture system classified the documents, recognized the data and extracted the donor’s name, ID, donation amount, payment method, payment details such as credit card number, validity period etc. as hand-printed data, checkmarks and barcodes.
Then 5 verification operators checked the extracted data from 5 different donation forms to ensure 100% accuracy of the recognized data in ABBYY FlexiCapture Data Verification Station. Moreover, with the help of special mathematical rules the system automatically checked the total sum of all donations; for the cheques – the number of received tickets, their cost and recognized sum; for the credit cards – the existence of a card number with the help of special scripts and validity period of the card. At the same time the ID number of a donor was compared against donors’ database and if necessary a new donor account was created.
The verified data and original images were exported into the local ERP system Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft SharePoint DMS for further analysis, processing and storage.
Orbis team, namely Anita Lee, Finance System Manager; Dennis Ng, IT Officer and his skillful team of technicians were actively involved in all stages of the project from collecting requirements, determining specifications and scheduling to user training, user acceptance testing and launch. Moreover, Rita Wong and Vivian Yam from the data transaction department – immediate users of the new solution – provided detailed feedback to ABBYY for the final tuning and adjustment of the system configuration. With such active cooperation and assistance, timely replies and high technical skills of both parties, the project became possible in such a short timeframe.
ABBYY FlexiCapture integrated with Orbis ERP and databases helps to save up to 30% time on inputting data and about 1%- 2% on costs per transaction by avoiding paying a middle man for outsourcing donations payments processing. While this may not seem like a lot, it is when you consider hundreds of thousands of dollars in donation over a period of many years. The NGO also saved a lot through reduced administrative costs, because now they do not have to manually enter donation information.
In programs supported by Orbis in 2014, the team has enhanced the skills of more than 24,000 eye care professionals, and provided treatment to more than 6 million blind and visually impaired people all over the world.