A Guide to Creating a Cell Phone Policy for Your Nonprofit

These days many employers provide cell phones for their employees so that they can be connected at all times. This can be both a blessing and a curse for employees. On one hand, they don’t have to move to far to get the information they need, on the

English: Mobile phone evolution Русский: Эволю...

other hand weekends can be interrupted by an email that normally wouldn’t have been seen until Monday. Either way, managing the cell phone usage of your organization can be a full time job. Today I’m going to share some questions you should ask yourself when setting up a cell phone policy for your agency.

Do you really need cell phones?
For some organizations it makes sense for employees to have cell phones provided to them. The work that is being done happens around the clock or from remote locations. For others, it might be more of a matter of connivence. Take a moment to think if providing cell phones is really needed.

If you decide that cell phones are needed, who in the organization needs one?
This is going to be breaking news, but not everyone needs a cell phone. Everyone might want a cell phone, but not all positions within your agency require one to be provided. Be selective about this because it is much easier to give someone something than to take it away.

What type of phone is needed?
It seems like there is a new phone out every day. I advice to get the phone with the least amount of features needed. If this person is only needed to be available by phone, does she really need a smartphone? Also just because a person might need the bells and whistles of a smartphone, doesn’t mean that smartphone needs to be an iPhone 5. Look at all of your options and really think about what the user of the phone really needs.

What plan to go with?
The good news here is that most major cell phone providers will work with nonprofits to set up a contract that work for them. Make sure you shop around and see which company can do the most for you. Don’t rule out the prepaid option either. It might be the best way to go for your organization. Also, keep your eyes out for smaller competitors to the major providers, like Ting. Ting has a flexible plan system that lets you prioritize which features (talking, texting, or data) are most important and you pay accordingly. So if one person on your team doesn’t need to talk on the phone much, but needs to have data access all of the time, Ting allows you to create a plan that provides just that.

Can we use our personal phones?

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Employees may want to use their own phones for work. Some organizations provide a stipend to each employee to use toward their cell phone plan. This can be a solution for your agency, but you still need to protect your organization’s data on that phone. I recommend setting up an agreement for the employee to sign. It should included statements that allow your agency to be given access to the device to see the configuration of any application that deals with sensitive data. The employee should also use a lock on their phone to keep that data safe. Also, your agency needs to be ensured that the device will be wiped clean before the employee provides it to another user.

I hope this guide helps you organize your cell phone policy for your organization. Have any tips or best practices to add? Post them in a comment below!


  1. Hi Erik/Marissa.

    I work at the National Safety Council and we have a kit that an employer can download for free to help launch a cell phone policy for their organization.

    Here is the link with the more information: http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/CellPhonePolicyKit.aspx


    Charlene Sligting |Victim Advocate, Transportation Initiatives & HEARTS Network
    National Safety Council | 1121 Spring Lake Drive | Itasca, IL 60143-3201
    charlene.sligting@nsc.org | direct: 630.775.2411| cell: 224.325.1615

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    The mission of the National Safety Council® is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the roads, through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC is a leader in promoting graduated driver licensing and offers a number of defensive driving courses, including the Alive at 25® program for young drivers.

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