Helpful hints for using Tags

Tip of the Week June 01, 2020

The Tags feature in Volgistics provides a useful way to temporarily mark multiple volunteer records so you can perform tasks for all of these records at once. Help topic 2137 explains more about what tasks you can perform for tagged records.

Here are some helpful things to keep in mind when using the Tags feature:

  • Tags only stay in place during the operator’s current session or until they are cleared. If you need to mark records so you can identify them when you log in again, use the Flag feature as shown in Help topic 2140.
  • Each operator in your account will only see records that he or she tags. If another operator at your organization is logged in at the same time, his or her tags will not show on your computer—and vice versa.
  • Tags are cumulative for your session unless they are cleared. For example, if you tag 8 records and perform a task, and then tag 5 more records without clearing your tags, you will have 13 records tagged.
  • You can clear tags by un-checking the box on individual records, or you can clear all tags at once by clicking the Clear all tags button found under Tags on the menu.

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14 Ways to Increase Volunteer Attendance at Your Next Event

Whether you’re planning a fundraiser, festival, or adoption event, you will always need a few helping hands. But if you’re seeing little interest in your volunteer opportunities and an even smaller turnout on event day, you may be wondering how to find volunteers for an event. No matter the size of your organization, your team is busy even with adequate staff. But if only two recruits show up when you need ten, those two volunteers will end up overwhelmed.

Managers have plenty of options when it comes to recruiting volunteers for an event, whether it’s months away or just around the corner. In this guide, we’ll discuss some strategies you can use to increase volunteer event attendance and how to keep your volunteers coming back.

What to Do a Few Months Before

You may think that if you ask volunteers to attend your event several months before, they will forget about their commitment or won’t know their availability yet. But this is the best time to prepare for your volunteer recruitment initiatives. If you start now and keep up with your recruitment strategy, you’ll have a small army at your service on event day.

1. Continue Your Volunteer Retention Strategies All Year

The best way to make sure you have a high-quality staff on event day is to ensure your current volunteers feel appreciated. If you have one big annual event and few opportunities during the rest of the year, give your volunteers a little reminder now and then.

A few things you can try:

  • Throw a volunteer appreciation party.
  • Shout out a community service superstar in your monthly newsletter.
  • Invite volunteers to give feedback or speak at an upcoming staff or board meeting.
  • Host a volunteer training event in your off-season.

2. Focus on What You Have to Offer Your Recruits

The first step as a volunteer manager is to decide what incentives you can offer. When you’re looking to get volunteers to help at your event, you can first advertise the benefit of making a difference. Generally, you will get more interest when you offer more incentives. Here are some things volunteers might be looking for:

  • Job experience
  • Hours toward a community service requirement
  • Free admission to your event
  • Discounts at your organization’s gift shop
  • Tickets to a future event
  • A letter of recommendation
  • Introductions to VIPs and guest speakers at your event
  • Awards for outstanding service
  • A recognition luncheon

Whatever you decide, the next step is to publicize these opportunities, so others know why they should volunteer.

3. Build an Easy-To-Use Website

One of the top ways to get more volunteers is to help them find opportunities easily. If you recruit on social media and email, you want readers to be able to click on a link and seamlessly register to volunteer. 

Your landing page for such links should be a page directed for those looking to volunteer their time. Include a call to action, so visitors can sign up to volunteer with the click of a button.

4. Make the Online Registration Process Easy

If prospective volunteers to express interest via email, they must wait until they hear back from you. This delay can cause some people to lose interest or find another way to volunteer their time. Instead, offer volunteers a way to sign up directly from your website. They can express interest in their preferred roles, and state their availability.

5. Dip Into Your Volunteer Arsenal

One of the more common ways to increase volunteer event attendance is to talk to those that have helped out before. Be careful not to count them in before you gauge their interest. If you’re overdrawing on the resources you already have, you might see their support taper off. Make sure your repeat volunteers are doing work that is interesting and meaningful to them. It can be tempting to stick your most reliable helpers where there’s the most need, but this won’t work if they will be doing something they don’t enjoy. The best way to ask is to recognize them for their past efforts and infer how they might like to get involved at this event.

6. Network

So, how do you recruit volunteers for an event? The best way is to ask people with a connection to your organization. Ask friends, family, and others who know you and support the work you do at your organization. Look for other ways your organization can broaden their network. Ask board members to recruit a friend or your current volunteers to bring in a buddy. Call for volunteers via your newsletter and social media. These will all target people with a connection to your organization, who want to see you thrive. 

7. Find the Right Volunteers for the Job

As previously mentioned, it is vital to make sure volunteers are doing work that they enjoy and find meaningful. So, allow volunteers to rank their interest in the variety of volunteer roles you have available.  For new and existing recruits, make sure you provide an overview of the jobs available and ask about their skills as you assign roles.

What to Do a Few Weeks Before

As your event draws closer, you might still be looking to fill a few more openings. You’ll also want to remind committed volunteers of your event, so they don’t schedule a conflicting event or forget about it altogether.

8. Promote From Within

If you’ve got a solid team of returners, consider giving them a “promotion.” Let them manage your newer recruits so you can recognize your volunteer veterans and make them feel appreciated. They will feel tied to your organization and its success, and you will always have a trusted volunteer on-duty.

9. Recruit Electronically

If you’re looking to fill a few more spots, you can recruit volunteers for an event online by:

  • Creating a compelling video of a previous event or asking volunteers to film a short video describing their experience.
  • Planning a campaign on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • Sending out an email blast to your subscribers.
  • Creating and sharing a Facebook event.

Always mention open roles, desired skills, and some of the key benefits of volunteering with your organization.

10. Make Training Convenient and Meaningful

When you have people making a significant commitment of their time, you want to try to lessen that burden whenever possible. But if your volunteers need training before event day, reducing that obligation can be tricky.  Make training events more convenient for your staff by holding them online. Your volunteers can learn the ropes on their own time by watching a few how-to videos. As long as you make yourself available to answer any questions, online training can save everyone time. If you decide to host an in-person training session, make sure they are worth it. Don’t hold a meeting for something that could have been an email. Make sure your volunteers see the value in coming in — make it a chance to bond as a team and play some games.

11. Use a Time Slot Sign-Up Sheet

A few weeks out, your volunteers know their availability for the day of your event and want to know how much of their time you’ll need. While some people can stay and help out all day long, others may only have an hour or two to spare. Create some basic and advanced volunteer opportunities, and use a time slot sign-up sheet so volunteers can work around their schedule. Letting volunteers sign up online keeps you organized and gives volunteers the freedom to set their schedules, which saves you time as well.

What to Do a Few Days Before

Now that your event is almost here, it’s time to make the final push, so your recruits attend on event day. Consider these tips to increase volunteer event attendance a few days out: 

12. Create a Breakdown of Roles and Responsibilities

When managing nonprofit event volunteers, have a clear plan of attack for the day of the event. This is important for running a successful event and making sure your volunteers know what to expect. Creating a breakdown of every volunteer’s responsibilities will ensure you always have a more experienced team member on duty, and that there are no gaps in coverage.

13. Tell Volunteers What They Need to Know

As you create a breakdown, make sure each task and duty has actionable instructions. Send a summary of each role to the responsible team members, and print a copy to post at the event. When you send these details out, make sure to say what time to show up, where to go upon arrival, and what the day will look like.

14. Send a Friendly Reminder

In addition to sending a breakdown, it will be helpful to send one last reminder text and email the day before. A volunteer management application like Volgistics can use the phone numbers and emails already in its database to send out these reminders.

How to Encourage Repeat Attendance for Volunteers

Once you’ve managed the process of recruiting volunteers for your event, you should have a great turnout on the big day. You now have a whole new roster of volunteers you can call on next time. But if you’re experiencing a high attrition rate on volunteers, you may want to work on retention.

The first step to keeping your best helpers is knowing how to manage event volunteers. There’s a lot you can do to improve the experience for volunteers and make people excited to help out next time through outstanding management.

What to Do on the Day of the Event

Making sure your volunteers have a positive experience is the most effective way to keep them coming back. Here are a few things to keep in mind on the day of the event:

1. Make Your Volunteers Feel Welcome

Make sure you have a friendly face available to greet volunteers when they arrive and show them around. One way to make new volunteers feel welcome is the buddy system. Have a recruit shadow one of your veterans for the first few hours, so they can learn and feel part of the team. There are several volunteer event best practices you can use to improve your event. One is setting up a volunteer check-in kiosk, so volunteers know exactly where to go and who to talk to when they arrive. A check-in area also gives them an easy way to log their hours.

2. Make Volunteering Fun

Making volunteering enjoyable is one of the best things you can do to attract volunteers for events. When you have a busy day and a lot to do, it’s hard to make time for fun. Here’s how you can fit a little cheer into your volunteer experience:

  • Starting the day with an icebreaker to make everyone feel part of the team.
  • Having volunteers track their step-count, ticket sales, or another metric and offer a prize for the winner.
  • Giving volunteers a break to explore and enjoy the event.
  • Taking volunteers backstage to meet a VIP.

3. Remember to Take Care of Your Volunteers

When working a busy event, it can be easy to forget about your staff. Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure your volunteers take breaks, eat, and stay hydrated throughout your event.

4. Communicate With Volunteers and Remind Them They Are Making a Difference

Volunteers want to know how the event is going, why they’re doing a specific task, and if their hard work is paying off. So, take the opportunity to connect with your helpers while they are on the job.

5. Wrap up by Saying Thank You

At the end of the day, make sure you take a few minutes to recognize your volunteer’s hard work. Celebrate the day’s wins — a surpassed fundraising goal, positive reactions from guests, or other successes. Make sure your volunteers know how vital their help was, and thank them for their time and effort.

What to Do After the Event

Just because your event is over doesn’t mean the work is done. Here are a few things you can do after the fact to improve volunteer event attendance the next time around:

6. Send Thank You Notes

A heartfelt thank you says a lot. It shows your volunteers that their help was worth it and that you appreciate their time. Remember to send a note celebrating the event’s success and their part in it.

7. Ask Volunteers for Feedback

When your volunteers are in the throes of an event, they witness things that you and your team might not have seen. Ask them to tell you if something went wrong and how you can resolve it in the future. Giving them a voice makes volunteers feel like part of the team.

8. Showcase Future Opportunities

If you have other volunteer opportunities coming up, send out a calendar of events to the volunteers that helped out. Provide them with a way to express interest and get involved in your other opportunities.

Ongoing Retention Strategies

After your event is over and behind you, it’s time to start preparing for what’s ahead. Here are a few things you can keep up with year-round, or in your off-season to keep your volunteers happy:

9. Respect Your Volunteers’ Time

One crucial aspect of volunteer event planning is time management.

After all, everyone is busy. Relying too much on a few people will cause them to burn out or feel under-appreciated, so make sure not to overuse your volunteers. Be honest about how long things will take. If you know something will take a few hours, don’t round it down to an hour when you call for help. Always start and end on-time.

10. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

If some of your volunteers go above and beyond, give each one a spotlight in your newsletter. Broadcasting your appreciation to a wider audience gives volunteers a sense of pride and accomplishment.

11. Throw a Volunteer Appreciation Party

Retain nonprofit event volunteers by showing them you care. Take them out to lunch or plan a gathering where they can celebrate with friends and family. You can hand out awards for outstanding service, or give volunteers a fun experience to help them bond as a team.

See How Volgistics Can Help You Recruit and Retain Volunteers

Organizing an event is time-consuming, and making sure you have the staff to make it happen is complicated. Volgistics is like your personal assistant for all aspects of volunteer management. Volgistics will create a database of your past and current volunteers, send communications about your event and upcoming opportunities, let volunteers sign up for service, vet candidates, and much more.  With your tailored-to-you volunteer management service by your side, you’ll be able to increase volunteer event attendance like a rock star. Want to learn more? Sign up for a Live Demonstration or try our free demo to start saving time today.

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Link to applications from the Opportunity Directory

Tip of the Week May 25, 2020

To create an HTML link that visitors to your Opportunity Directory can click on to navigate directly to a particular Application Form, you can enter your application form’s URL as the ‘Web site’ for the Assignment records you advertise (so long as you’re not already using your Assignments’ ‘Web site’ field for other purposes). Since the Opportunity Directory doesn’t include any native features for linking to application forms, this can be an effective workaround.

The ‘Web site’ field for your Assignment records can be found on the ‘Assignment’ tab. When you include Assignments’ Web Site information on the Opportunity Directory, it will appear as a clickable hyperlink, allowing visitors to click on that link to be directed to that web site – in this case, a corresponding Online Volunteer Application Form.

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Guide to Switching Volunteer Management Software

Are you looking to switch your volunteer management software? Maybe you’re going paperless, or your current system doesn’t do what you need. Either way, choosing and implementing a new system is a valuable investment. So, it’s essential to take your time as you select and introduce a new software.

With the right plan in place, switching to a new program will help admins, volunteer organizers, and volunteers get organized and save time. You might even find yourself recruiting more help and improving volunteer retention.

Determine Why You Want to Switch Volunteer Management Software

The first step for a successful transition is to identify your reasons for switching. If you currently use spreadsheets, you will gain so much from moving to a system designed for volunteer management. It’s still a good idea to look for a feature-rich system that will do what you need it to do.

But to replace your current volunteer management software, you’ll need to figure out precisely what you need from a new system. Maybe you need better statistics to report for grant writing, or perhaps users have trouble understanding the mechanics of your current program.

The key to success at this stage is to talk to everyone who will be working with the new system, and include their needs and wish lists in your research. Say you are an organizational leader looking to save money. You find a cheaper software and get started. Once it’s purchased, you discover it won’t work with your organization’s computer system. Volunteer managers cannot access the right information, admins can’t manually input hours, and your volunteers don’t even use it.

It is crucial to involve the people who will work with the software regularly to make sure the new system addresses their needs.

Research and Find Your New Volunteer Management Software

Once you know why you’re switching systems, make a list of your top priorities for the new software. To find the best volunteer software for you, research volunteer management vendors and see who has the tools you need. Some capabilities you will want to look for are:

  • Volunteer profiles and information: Different organizations might require different information about their volunteers. You may need to track contact info, total hours, skills and interests, background checks, comments and evaluation from staff, or something else.
  • Scheduling: How to does the system let you schedule your volunteers? This process should be easy for you to manage. Look for a program that gives your volunteers the freedom to sign up for time slots on their own.
  • Communication: You might need to blast updates to a vast audience of volunteers. In this case, you’ll want to look for a system you can use to send emails and texts, or one that lets you print mailing labels from the information in its system.
  • Data tracking and reports: The reports you need will be specific to your organization. You may need to know how many hours a volunteer works each month or calculate the number of volunteers recruited per event. You may need to print name tags, manually input hours, or create a custom report, such as the number of meals delivered.
  • Customization: Your organization’s volunteer needs are specific to you. What you need might be different from that of other volunteer organizations. So, look for a volunteer management system that lets you add custom data fields and mold your software to your own needs. Also, look for a service that offers flexible pricing based on the number of users who need it.
  • Ease of use: Consider the technical abilities of your end-users. You’ll want something that you, your volunteer managers, admins, and volunteers will all be able to access and use without a struggle.

We recommend trying a free demo of the program before you buy, so you can know exactly how it works and what capabilities it has.

Start Planning Your Transition

Once you’ve narrowed your options down to one service, it is time to plan your switch. When overhauling how you manage and communicate with volunteers, planning is essential. To have a successful switch, you need to be smart about how you handle the project. Three things to keep in mind:

  1. Set a timeline: Be realistic about your timeline. You don’t want to rush toward completing your transition by an unreasonable deadline. You might need more time than you expect, and you want to avoid any mistakes that will cause you to lose crucial data. As you create a transition plan, take a look at each step in the process and think about the amount of time it will take. Set a deadline for each stage. Make sure to budget in some wiggle room for other factors, such as an upcoming fundraising event that eats more of your team’s time.
  2. Create a process: Below, you’ll find the steps to change volunteer management systems. Follow these steps and any directions your new software vendor recommends. As you plan each step, focus on what needs to get done as well as who will work on each task and how they will complete them.
  3. Involve the right staff: Each member of your team has different priorities and different requirements to get their jobs done. Include your volunteer managers, organizational leaders, admins, and, if you have any, IT professionals throughout your implementation process. It may also be helpful to involve a few of your volunteers.

Steps to Switch Your Volunteer Management Software

Once you’ve set a timeline and brought the right people on board, it’s time to execute your plan. Take your time with each step and don’t skip over details, as this will cost you more time down the road.

1. Communicate Your Action Plan With Core Organization Stakeholders

A lot goes into switching to a new system. Don’t forget to communicate your change plan with your board, staff, and volunteers. Make sure everyone knows that a switch is coming, when they can expect it, and what they need to do. Those responsible for each step in this process should know their deadlines and be able to meet them.

Don’t forget to get people excited! Show board members how the new system will save money or increase your support network, admins how they will save time scheduling shifts, and volunteers how they can sign up for new opportunities.

2. Determine What Data to Carry Over

One mistake to avoid when switching systems is to try to carry over every piece of data to the new system. Instead, focus on what kind of reports you need to draw from the system, and what key information you need from volunteers. As long as you can save all your old data somewhere else, there is no need to bring it all over.

Inactive opportunities or volunteers who haven’t worked with your organization in the last two years don’t need to carry over to your new software. Plus, having old information in a new system might cause mistakes. You might send an email to uninterested parties, or volunteers may try to sign up for roles that are already filled.

Avoiding nonessential data will make your transition more straightforward.

3. Archive Your Data and Save a Backup

If you are currently using another software, make sure to export all your old data. Not all this information will be relevant or necessary to include in your new system, but you should save it in case you need it. Once you transition to new volunteer management software, you will lose access to the old program. So, make sure to save everything.

Contact your vendor’s support team so you can export this data in a format that you can import into your new system.

4. Format Your Data for the New System

If you are digitizing your volunteer management system, you likely have volunteer information in paper files or spreadsheets. If this is the case, you should first scrub your data for duplicates and merge all the data you want to transfer over onto a single spreadsheet.

If you are transitioning from another system, you should be able to export everything onto one spreadsheet.

Your support team will tell you how to format your new data. Make sure you discuss what data is most important to your organization to ensure they preserve it during the transition.

5. Import Data Into the New System

Next, it is time to input the data into your new system. Volgistics offers two flexible options to help you transfer this information.

The Volgistics Free Import Utility is a downloadable application that lets you bring simple data into your Volgistics account. Your dedicated Volgistics support team can aid you in formatting your data for your new system, but you may want to involve an IT resource as well.

For more complex data, Volgistics also offers a Jump-Start Service. All you have to do is send in your database or spreadsheet files, and the support team does the rest.

6. Train Admins and Volunteer Managers on the New Software

Once you transfer your data onto your new software, it is time to learn the system and train its principal users. Volgistics offers several free online training sessions each month that you and your team can watch together. You can also schedule a personalized consultation to have a support specialist work within your account, answer your questions, and focus on the topics that interest you.

In addition to these training sessions, it’s helpful to get into the system and start playing with it. You learn best by doing!

You should train your key team members first, since they will dictate how to best use the system for your organization, and will act as point person others will turn to for questions.

7. Address Any Issues and Obstacles Before Rolling out the New System

As you and your team begin using the system for yourselves, you may run into hurdles, find errors in your data, or have more questions about the system’s capabilities. You may find that you need a feature that you didn’t buy already. Make sure to address these issues before you roll out the new system. Contact your support specialists to integrate new capabilities, resolve errors, and answer questions.

8. Get the System Ready for Launch

Once everything is in working order, populate your system with new opportunities and information. When you announce the new system and send out a link to your volunteers and stakeholders, you want your new software to be exciting and filled with chances to get involved. The first time users click on the link, they should find excitement about what they see so that they will want to come back.

9. Roll out Access to the New System

When it’s time to launch your new volunteer management system, don’t immediately cancel your old one. Give your staff and volunteers time to learn the new system, catch any gaps in the data, and retrieve information from the old system. Set a date to discontinue the old software, and make sure everyone is aware of it long ahead of time.

After you announce your new system to the public, follow up with step-by-step instructions, so volunteers know how to set up their profiles.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully transitioned to your new volunteer management software. All that’s left to do is enjoy the time you’re saving, and continue to fine-tune the new program.

Change Management Best Practices

Long-time members of an organization are often used to doing things a certain way. Change can be difficult, especially if some of your volunteers or staff are a bit tech-timid. So, in addition to working on the transition’s technical aspects, you’ll want to prepare your team for the change and get everyone on board.

1. Appoint a Champion

One of the first things you should do as you prepare for a new volunteer management system is to appoint a project manager for the new system. It could be you, someone on your board, or a small task force. This person will be your organization’s in-house guru, someone who’s excited about the transition and capable of leading others to success.

They will be in charge of implementing the new application as well as communicating with the team and preparing people for the change. If your champions are excited about the change, that energy will radiate throughout your entire team.

2. Start With the Core Features Before Adding in More

Gradual changes tend to work better than ones that happen suddenly. Many volunteer software providers offer a bunch of useful and exciting features. It can be tempting to tack them all on from the start, but then your team will have more to learn all at once. Start with your new software’s core capabilities, and then add on additional features after some time has passed. 

Some additional Volgistics features you may want to integrate:

  • VicNet, which is a virtual portal for volunteers that lets them view their profile, update their schedule, and more.
  • VicTouch, which clocks volunteers in and out and turns your Volgistics account into an on-site volunteer kiosk.
  • VicDocs, which lets you store key documents such as a scan of a driver’s license or paper documents.

3. Communicate Frequently With Staff and Volunteers to Notify Them of Changes

When you first decide to make the switch, make sure you announce it to your team. Let them know what’s coming and how things will change, and provide them with a rough timeline and a changeover date. If things change as you go, update everyone on your progress.

Try to keep in mind that as you integrate your new software, you are the expert on your team. You know all the nitty-gritty details of your system and the transition process, but this might not be obvious to others who are less involved. Whenever you make a change to the new system, and there are bound to be some adjustments, ensure everyone knows about it.

4. Focus on the Benefits to Your Team

As you make the switch and begin training your staff on the new system, highlight how this system will make things easier for them. Your volunteer leader will save lots of time and be able to get more organized, while your admin will have an updated mailing list and can send electronic and physical mail with ease. Make sure you show your staff how this system works better for them.

5. Conduct Training and Share Resources for the New System

Learn the system well enough yourself to help others learn it as well. You can schedule a personalized training session for your staff with your software vendor, or you can reserve this kind of training for you and your key users and relay appropriate information to the rest of your team.

Your software provider likely has lots of video tutorials, how-to guides, and other resources that you can share. But, if you have a few particular ways you plan to use the system, you can film short training videos yourself, so your team knows how to use your new processes exactly how you intend.

6. Get Volunteers Excited by Showing Them How the System Will Improve Their Experience

Remember that this system won’t work if your volunteers don’t want to use it! It’s essential to get some buy-in from your volunteer force so that they will use it when the time comes. Before you make the switch, announce the change to your volunteers and show them all the cool features to which they will gain access. Volunteer management systems can often let volunteers apply for opportunities online, schedule themselves for shifts, access online training, and track their hours.

7. Encourage Volunteers and Staff to Share Any Issues

As you transition, make sure to give staff and volunteers the chance to voice concerns and make you aware of any issues. Show that you are willing to coach people on the new system and answer their questions. Offering your support and addressing your team’s problems can help boost their confidence and understanding of the new system.

8. Use Your Support Team

Don’t spend hours trying to figure out how to use a feature or fix an issue. Contact your volunteer management software vendor’s support team — they’re experts. You’ll save time and frustration as you work out all the bugs and ensure you have the smoothest transition possible. At Volgistics, technical support is complimentary at all levels, and you’ll have access to an extensive searchable help library.

9. Once Fully Migrated to the New System, Discontinue the Old One

Once everything is up and running on your new system, set a changeover date, and make everyone aware of it far in advance. After your team is comfortable with the new software, discontinue the old one. Eliminate any confusion about which system to input information on, and prevent losing new data because it was entered into the wrong program.

Make the Switch to Volgistics and See the Difference Today

Volgistics offers a feature-rich and scalable service that’s perfect for organizations of any size, from small local nonprofits to large national organizations. You will get the features that are most important to you as well as the freedom to customize your software to your specifications.

To see if Volgistics is the right service for you, try out our pre-loaded sample account. Or, get started with your trial account in minutes, so Volgistics can get to work for you with your own data. Or, if you’re ready to contact our dedicated support team, you can sign up for a live demonstration today.

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Finding and recording volunteer absences

Tip of the Week May 18, 2020

If your organization needs to keep track of when volunteers do not show up for scheduled assignments, Volgistics can help. The first step is to make sure all volunteer service for the date in question has been entered into the system. When this is done, you can create a Set to look for volunteers who were scheduled on a certain date, but who do not have any service recorded for that date. Help topic 2320 shows how to do this.

Once you identify the volunteers who were absent, you can use Volgistics’ Service Measure feature to keep track of the date and assignment they were absent from. Help topic 2275 shows how to create, and use, a Service Measure to do this.

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Benefits of Family Volunteerism

Benefits of Family Volunteerism

Is your nonprofit looking for ways to diversify its volunteer roll? Add more flexibility to the volunteer schedule? Bring new talent through the door? Expand programming or projects across the upcoming calendar year?

If you answered yes to any of these questions — and what nonprofit wouldn’t — then managing a family volunteer program should be on your radar.

Family volunteer programs open the doors for families in a community to spend quality time together while doing genuine good. Family volunteerism also encourages the next generation of compassionate and driven changemakers — ones deeply invested in the health and wellness of their communities.

Learn how you can set up and encourage family volunteerism at your organization, plus the benefits of family-friendly volunteering.

How Is Volunteering Good for You?

Volunteering as a family provides unique advantages to every member regardless of each participant’s age, skill sets, and motivations.

1. It Increases Empathy

When asked the value of volunteering with their families, teens, and children surveyed by Indiana University’s Center for Urban Policy and Environment named “expanding their worldview” as a top benefit. For youth especially, developing and strengthening empathy nurtures a range of benefits, including:

  • Improved social trust and relationship ties
  • Increased grit, perseverance, and resiliency
  • Enhanced communication and collaboration skills
  • And more

2. It Makes You Social

Family volunteering is a prime way to get families outside the house. Working these opportunities into their schedule creates a new bonding opportunity and provides a great place to meet other community-minded families and individuals.

What’s more, further research shows even moderate volunteering (one to two times a month) lowers stress levels while strengthening communication, social skills, and psychological resources shared among participating family members.

3. It Reduces Anxiety and Depression

Volunteering individually and as a family can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, as tracked by a study conducted by The University of Texas. Reduced levels of depression and anxiety are correlated with elevated energy, mood regulation, a sense of optimism, and even boosted mental clarity, acuity, and attention span.

Entire families can lower their stress levels and increase their mental and emotional well-being by adopting a volunteer routine, working with causes or organizations in their communities that everyone believes in.

4. It Boosts You and Your Family Members’ Self-Confidence

Dedicating your family's spare time to a community project or endeavor helps prove the rewards of hard work, showcasing what's achieved when you put in the time and effort.

Dedicating your family’s spare time to a community project or endeavor helps prove the rewards of hard work, showcasing what’s achieved when you put in the time and effort. Plus, volunteer opportunities offer an ideal setting to adopt and practice new skills. For minors and adults alike, this combination can instill greater self-confidence and grit, helping everyone realize what they can achieve if they put in consistent work.

5. It Can Help You Live Longer

Family volunteering can decrease blood pressure and boost serotonin levels in the brain. What’s more, it can even increase life expectancy, particularly in adults and seniors age 55 and older. Research shows that individuals in this age group maintain better physical and mental health markers than others their age who don’t volunteer — with some of the best outcomes found in those who volunteer alongside loved ones.

Why Should You Volunteer as a Family?

From program managers to parents, people see numerous benefits of volunteering as a family that helps each party create, join and build the most engaging family volunteer program possible. Here’s what the process has to offer.

1. It Helps You Spend Time Together

Modern parents bemoan long work hours and hectic busy schedules preventing them from spending quality time with their kids. And perhaps surprisingly, modern kids feel the same. Three out of every four children say they wish they had more quality time with their parents, particularly quality time outside the house engaging in special or hands-on activities.

Family volunteering bridges this quality time gap. Both parties spend dedicated, intentional hours together in a meaningful setting, nurturing all the health and social benefits cited above.

2. It Creates Memories

Similar to vacations and holiday traditions, family volunteerism is one of the best ways to make memories with your family members. The more consistent your volunteer schedule and engaging your host organization or communal projects, the more positive those memories tend to be.

Children who grow up volunteering with parents, siblings, or extended family will also be more likely to carry on this tradition with their own families someday, creating an altruistic generational legacy that ripples across the years.

3. It Teaches Children Valuable Life Skills and Traits

The developmental skills of volunteering have long been lauded in scientific studies and anecdotal stories alike. Across numerous publications, researchers prove kids and teens, in particular, adopt valuable personal and professional skills through volunteer opportunities, including:

  • Better task management
  • The ability to self-motivate
  • A greater sense of self-worth and purpose
  • Tendencies toward altruism and compassion
  • The ability to collaborate
  • Enhanced interpersonal communication

4. It Creates Consistency

Ritual is important for childhood development as well as household management. Both parents and children benefit from a sense of healthy structure shaping hectic weeks, helping the former balance activities with free time and the latter learn responsibility, commitment, and time-management habits.

Family volunteering is a fantastic option for families looking to add consistency to their routines while also having fun and getting out of the house — and away from those ubiquitous smartphones and screens.

5. It Makes Everyone Happier

Because volunteering directly combats negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, depression, and anger while bolstering self-esteem and empathy, it triggers a formulaic chain of responses in your brain that ultimately release serotonin. In less scientific terms, continual volunteering will make you and your family happier.

Studies show that when mental well-being markers are high, other health outcomes follow — which, in turn, sets off a domino-like chain of events boosting overall happiness levels within your household or at your nonprofit organization, including:

  • A heightened sense of daily purpose
  • Better physical health
  • Improved family and friend relationships
  • Overall higher life satisfaction

6. It Lets You Learn About One Another

Conversations about collective interests quickly urn into action as families search for community organizations and nonprofits dedicated to tackling these issues in their local area.

Family volunteering opens up conversations about topics or issues each family member cares about, such as animal rights, food sustainability, veterans affairs, or local environmental causes. Some of these topics may present entirely new learning moments for other family members. That’s a good thing! Conversations about collective interests quickly turn into action as families search for community organizations and nonprofits dedicated to tackling these issues in their local area.

Through these new and familiar volunteer opportunities, families learn more about what makes each member tick — their unique passions, skills, and concerns — all while growing closer.

Great Organizations for Family-Friendly Volunteering

Family-friendly volunteer opportunities abound. Consider these dynamic ways to encourage family volunteering in nonprofit fields or niches, all of which are suitable for kids, teens, adults, and seniors.

1. Elderly Care and Assistance

Local nursing homes and elderly care facilities open their doors to volunteers on the daily. Families who volunteer at elderly assistance homes can host group activities, perform maintenance or basic care work, set up special home events, or even “adopt” a resident, taking turns visiting a few times a week.

Similar elder care activities abound, such as volunteering to drive senior citizens to and from appointments and run errands. You can provide the chauffeuring while the kids provide the entertainment, all while combating loneliness and social isolation experienced by many in nursing homes.

2. Local Neighborhood Initiatives

What better way to spend time with your family than volunteering right in the neighborhood you live in and love? Search online for your official neighborhood association. Websites may have a dedicated volunteer page with events or the names and contact information of its community liaison, ready to set up a family-friendly day of service such as:

  • Street or park cleanups
  • Neighborhood farmer’s market assistance
  • Celebration or street festival volunteering
  • The building or renovation of a nearby home or business
  • Neighborhood dog walking opportunities

3. Meal Deliveries

Nonprofits dedicated to meal deliveries address issues related to food sustainability, access, and equity in their local communities. For bonus points, this opportunity can also teach kids and teens important skills, such as cooking or gardening.

 Meal deliveries and food-service-related causes easily undertaken by family volunteers include:

  • Cooking and delivering meals to the elderly or disabled
  • Serving prepared food at local shelters
  • Volunteering at a community garden
  • Organizing food drives for pantries

4. Pet or Animal Shelters

Animal shelters rely on a carousel of volunteers to walk, play with, and care for their furry residents. They also need donations for essential supplies and adopt-a-thon-like projects and awareness events.

Consider taking the family once a week to a local shelter to play with, walk, or bathe the pets. If you’re a volunteer manager, consider hosting family-friendly shelter days with additional activities geared toward kids and parents.

5. Nature Conservatories

Family-friendly conservation work gets people of all ages outdoors, connecting with nature and disconnecting from electronics. Everyone benefits from the fresh air and sunshine, and young kids in particular will love exploring nature without needing any specialty or advanced skills to:

  • Plant trees
  • Weed out invasive plant species
  • Pick up trash at the park
  • Start a neighborhood recycling program
  • Take part in street or building beautification projects, such as painting neighborhood murals
  • Volunteer at nature preserves

6. Crafting for a Cause

Another fantastic — and approachable — way to set up family-friendly volunteer days is hosting a craft-a-thon for a cause. Think fundamental yet straightforward goods whole cohorts of family volunteers can stop by and make while also enjoying other family-friendly activities like games, music, and a snack bar. Options include:

  • Knitting nights for homeless shelters (mittens, scarves, gloves, and similar apparel)
  • Making custom artwork or jewelry for the elderly in care facilities
  • Creating paper snowflakes, jack-o-lanterns, and other holiday decor to decorate hospital children’s wards
  • Preparing bake sales for nonprofit fundraisers
  • Designing dog collars and scarves for pet shelters
  • And more creative nonprofit craft night ideas

7. Mentorship or Buddy Programs

Families can sign up to “buddy” a physically or developmentally impaired individual, taking them out to the movies, escorting them to parks, hosting family game nights, crafting, and engaging in other activities centered on quality time. Families can also host their buddy during the holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions, making the individual feel like a part of the crew.

Benefits of Having Families Volunteer at Your Nonprofit

Benefits of having families volunteer at your nonprofit

Managing family volunteer programs can bring several critical advantages to your nonprofit organization — ones missing or harder to nurture with other volunteer demographics.

1. Improve Your Volunteer Pipeline

Kids introduced to volunteering earlier are more likely to continue volunteering in their teenage years and young adulthood. Similarly, adults who begin volunteering are more likely to spread the word about your organization to their families, friends, and colleagues. This effect holds the potential to proliferate across more people and more family networks, resulting in a strengthened total volunteer pipeline with more prospects than ever.

2. Diversify Your Volunteer Roll

Family-friendly volunteering means a multi-generational lineup of new volunteers for your organization to add into the fold. A diverse volunteer roll translates into easier shift scheduling, as different ages will be available for complementary hours. It also means a variety of technical skills at your nonprofit’s disposal, with every age group and family member bringing a distinct talent or expertise to the table.

3. Generate a Larger Impact

Supporting family volunteers as well as family-friendly events at your nonprofit will highlight your commitment to the community. You can encourage an open, welcoming environment for all while fostering greater brand recognition and awareness of key causes. Together, this effort to support and include families in your mission will boost your ability to have an impact in the community, achieve more goals, conduct more projects, and do more good — all while setting a positive example for generations to come.

How to Manage Family Volunteers

In addition to emphasizing quality family time, how can volunteer managers find ways to encourage family volunteers? Consider these family volunteerism program tips and best practices.

1. Host Family-Friendly Functions

Rather than diving head-first into a formalized program, find ways to coax organic family engagement and interactions within your organization’s walls.

Even if your role centers on volunteer management, not every responsibility needs to focus exclusively on official volunteer recruitment and engagement — even if those are the end goals of these initiatives. Instead, showcase your community involvement and get families to commit to you on their own by hosting simple, relevant, and attractive family-friendly events. Consider:

  • Scavenger hunts
  • Kids cooking or craft classes
  • Movie nights
  • Bonfires
  • Nature hikes
  • And more

2. Set up Family Points

Points systems mirror other volunteer incentive strategies. The more family members volunteer, the more they rack up points on a volunteer leader board (physical or digital) where they earn badges and rewards. Adding a points system into your family volunteer plan will work particularly well for kids, who love the game-inspired “leveling up” inherent in this model.

3. Be Flexible With Weekdays

Managing a family volunteer program requires a little more leniency than scheduling for other volunteer demographics. Coordinators need to be open-minded, communicative and personable, giving plenty of options for families to comfortably fit volunteering into their schedules rather than turning it into another weekly to-do.

Review the reliability and features of your typical volunteer scheduling program. Does it allow for customization, track volunteer hours, enable you to schedule groups, and generally simplify your volunteer scheduling responsibilities? If not, it may be time for a change before you implement your formal family program.

4. Learn Everyone’s Individual Strengths

Just because a family volunteers as a unit doesn’t mean they should be treated the same. Each member will have different personalities, tastes, hobbies, and skills. Share age-appropriate strengths-finding surveys with new members during volunteer orientation, ensuring those preferences line up with some of the activities or responsibilities offered in your program, then inquiring about what can be done to make family volunteer work easier and more engaging for everyone.

Get Your Complete Toolkit for Supporting Family Volunteers

Get your complete toolkit for supporting family volunteers

Schedule a free demo of Volgistics’ industry-leading volunteer logistics software, or view our sample account to compare our toolkit’s features side-by-side with your current scheduling system.

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Volunteer & Assignment Matching

Tip of the Week May 11, 2020

Volgistics includes features for matching volunteers and Assignments. Volunteers are considered as matching – or not matching – an assignment based on the selections on the Profile tabs for both the Assignment and the volunteer.

The matching features can be a great way to find Assignments a particular volunteer might be interested in, as well as find volunteers who might be well suited to serve in a particular Assignment. Matching can even be used to determine eligibility for self-scheduling, automatically allowing volunteers to schedule themselves where they’re a good fit, even if they’re not already assigned. Help topic 2249 explains more about the Volunteer & Assignment Matching features.

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New Data Export Feature

Volgistics is a cloud-based system so there may be times you’d like to move information to your local system. This can be handy if you lose internet service, need to reference information that has changed in your account, or import Volgistics information into another program or application. We’ve added a new feature to make exporting the information in your account easy.

The export produces a downloadable Excel spreadsheet file with all of the information from your non-archived and archived volunteer records, as well as a zip file of the documents stored in your account. Documents always include the PDF version of completed application forms. Plus, if your account includes the VicDocs module, the file also include all documents uploaded to the Docs tabs of volunteer, Coordinator, and Site, Place, and Assignment records.

The export process is built-in to clearing your account and account cancellations, and it can also be run on its own by any System Operator with access to Setup on the menu. You can learn more in help topic 2164 Saving Volunteer Information Locally.

As always, our support team is happy to help with any questions you have about the new feature. You can contact them from our public support page, or by clicking Support on the menu inside of your account.

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Protect your account with strong passwords

Tip of the Week May 4, 2020

Data security is often at the forefront of the news today. We strive to make your Volgistics account secure behind the scenes, and prevent unauthorized users from gaining access by using three-part authentication for login, and security blocks to prevent repeated login attempts.

However, security experts feel that the greatest threat to security is the use of easy-to-guess passwords. Passwords such as the ones listed here make it easier for unauthorized users to gain access to your account. We encourage account Administrators to require strong passwords for System Operators. Experts recommend that passwords be at least 11 characters long. Click here for information on how to setup the password strength settings for your account.

Please note that if an unauthorized user does hack a password to gain access to one particular account, they will only have access to that account’s information. The data in other accounts is not accessible. Similarly, if a volunteer’s login information for VicNet is jeopardized, only that particular volunteer’s information is available in the VicNet account.

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Seven Tips For Your Volunteer Waivers

Organizations often avoid using volunteer waiver agreements for several reasons. Administrators may feel the nature of volunteer roles doesn’t call for such strong legal documents, or work only with a select group of seasoned volunteers whom they know and trust. Likewise, they may simply not have the time to create these formal waivers or understand their benefits.

With these tips for implementing volunteer waiver forms, you’ll be able to create and manage these crucial documents with ease. Doing so will save time, energy, and legal culpability, so your organization can operate with peace of mind.  

What Is a Volunteer Liability Waiver? 

A volunteer liability waiver form is an official document volunteers sign indicating their consensual participation in activities or roles hosted by your organization.

Also known as a release form, waivers illustrate potential physical or environmental risks inherent to the volunteer opportunity. For example, it’s common to have volunteers sign waivers before physically demanding or strenuous manual work, such as renovating a local home, giving consent to operating a vehicle, or before working with specific vulnerable populations. 

Volunteers read and then sign waivers. Their signatures constitute a legally binding agreement noting the individual’s understanding of the stated risks involved with their commitment, as well as waiving their rights to place liability back on your nonprofit or organization in the event of an accident while volunteering. 

Due to their indication of awareness and consent, volunteer waivers are considered a document of understanding. Organizations should use volunteer waivers, releases, or similarly named agreement forms as a general best practice, to protect the organization from complicated legal situations before the volunteer’s actual shift. As a bonus, release waivers also provide transparency to your volunteers, clarifying role expectations while maintaining clear lines of communication with anyone dedicating time to your causes.

What Are the Different Types of Volunteer Liability Waivers?

There are several types of liability waivers utilized by nonprofits and other organizations. Each type of volunteer waiver may be important for your organization to have on-file and ready for signing, depending on the nature of a volunteer’s role and the individual’s level of commitment. Some common types of volunteer liability waivers include:

1. General Nonprofit Volunteer Agreement Forms

General volunteer waivers for nonprofits are the most basic and approachable document of understanding.

With general waivers, participants agree to acquit your organization of any legal accountability should accidents or damages occur during a volunteer activity. These documents also tend to state the relationship between the host and the participants.  

Some volunteers may be intimidated or off-put by the intensity of terms like “waiver” and “liability release.” For this reason, general volunteer agreements serve as a bridge to protect your organization’s actions while simultaneously educating volunteers on their rights and roles, plus any other participatory rules you’d like established at the onset of the relationship.  

2. Standard Liability Waivers

Otherwise known as a generic or simple volunteer waiver forms, standard liability documents present a broad basis of legal coverage fundamentally designed to protect your organization. 

In general, standard liability waivers work best when:

  • Drafted or reviewed by a legal expert.
  • Come attached to other volunteer onboarding documents.
  • Relay both general responsibilities and risks associated with the volunteerism opportunity, as well as explicit activity waivers.

Standard liability waivers are just that — standard. As a document, it offers you robust coverage that will be recognized and enforced in a court, if necessary. Search for examples of the language and terms innate to this type of volunteer liability waiver to better understand what to cover in your own related documents. 

3. Role-Specific Liability Waivers

With a role-specific volunteer waiver of liability, your organization drafts and documents specific release forms for each type of volunteer position. 

Role-specific waivers help outline more granular volunteerism risks and parameters, particularly citing the requirements needed to fulfill each role safely. For example, a volunteer position at a food shelter may require an individual to drive around picking up donations from local restaurants, food vendors, and partners, meaning a role-specific liability waiver should include proof of a driver’s license and a defensive driving course certificate. 

A role-specific waiver also outlines any potential risks working with:  

  • Vulnerable populations (in hospitals, elderly care homes, etc.)
  • Minors
  • Disaster-response work
  • Sporting events and similar physically dominant activities (e.g., a charity basketball tournament)

4. Release Forms for Minors 

Organizations working with volunteers under the age of 18 must first receive parent or guardian consent before formally adding the minor onto its volunteer schedule. These volunteer release forms are required by labor laws and ensure your organization is following industry regulations.

Generally, volunteer waivers for minors consist of lines for the parent or guardian to sign, lines for the volunteer manager or director to acknowledge and then short liability release clauses. They can also include the signatures of the youth volunteering themselves. 

When Are Volunteer Waivers Required?

Organizations should generally always have volunteers sign waivers at the onset of volunteer screenings — or during whatever formal onboarding or orientation process your organization supports. 

Regardless of the type of work a volunteer will perform, their level of commitment, their frequency of volunteering, or their familiarity with your organization, using volunteer waivers is a best practice to prevent misunderstandings and accidents from snowballing into existential organizational threats.  

In some cases, they’re also mandatory — such as when screening youth volunteers. 

Generally, volunteer waivers are necessary when and if:

  • Minors are seeking volunteer opportunities at your organization.
  • Physically strenuous volunteering tasks or activities are required.
  • Disaster-relief or medical-dispatch services are required.
  • Driving is part of a volunteer’s role.
  • Traveling is part of a volunteer’s role.
  • The use of specialty tools or equipment is part of a volunteer’s role — for example, the use of power tools during a home or business renovation project.
  • Off-premise activities involving nonprofit-organized transportation and logistics are required.

What to Include in Your Volunteer Waivers 

Luckily, your nonprofit doesn’t need an in-house legal expert to know how to create volunteer releases and waivers.   

Use these suggestions as a general outline for writing your agreement forms, ensuring a functionally — and legally — robust document serving everyone’s well-being. 

1. Statement of Activities

A statement of activities clause provides volunteers with a general sense of the responsibilities involved in their new roles. These activities range but may include:

  • Lifting or moving physical objects.
  • Childcare or similar caretaking responsibilities.
  • The ability to operate a vehicle.
  • Preparation, cooking, or handling of food.
  • Required technological proficiency.
  • Bilingual requirements or similar language preferences.

A statement of activities section is particularly essential when drafting a role-specific waiver. It is also a good practice for minor waiver forms, as it provides a definitive description for parents or guardians to understand what their child will be doing with your organization. 

2. Physical Requirements

Using waivers is a great way to describe any physical requirements related to volunteering at your organization. 

This description also gives autonomy and agency back to the volunteer. Individuals can assess if their health and physical well-being are suited to your organization’s needs on their own terms, taking their volunteer activities into their own hands. 

Some common physical requirements included on waivers are:

  • Considerable periods of walking or being on your feet.
  • Lifting, moving, or hauling heavy objects.
  • A minimum weight one must be able to lift.
  • Running or jumping.

3. Inherent Risks of Volunteer Activities

After outlining basic physical requirements and duties, volunteer waivers must state that your organization is not responsible for physical, mental, or emotional repercussions involved in a volunteering incident. 

Often, these clauses are worded under an “assumption of risk” paragraph. If signed, volunteers state they understand the inherent risks of their roles or tasks and assume the full responsibility of any injuries and harm from them, therefore releasing your organization from liability. 

4. Nonprofit Safety Rules and Procedures

In addition to daily roles and responsibilities, plus an assumption-of-risk statement, volunteer waivers can describe the general safety rules and parameters involved in assisting at your organization. 

These rules may be helpful to minors or child volunteers to understand appropriate behaviors during their volunteer shifts. More broadly, they can be age-related, skills-related, or any other qualifying variable relevant to the roles at hand. 

Furthermore, safety procedures document any compliance measures you and your volunteers must follow. Finally, you can use the safety rules and procedures clause to state your organization has no liability to carry insurance benefiting the volunteer, and that such insurance falls on them. 

5. Publicity/Photography Release

A media or publicity release gives your organization permission to use a volunteer’s images or quotes across publications.

From social media campaigns to press releases to formal grant-writing applications, a publicity release identifies which media a volunteer is or isn’t comfortable with having in the public eye, namely:

  • Photographs
  • Videos
  • Audio recordings
  • Quotes
  • Images
  • Any other related likeness 

Volunteers then grant you permission to all “rights” and “titles” of that media, meaning they consent to those images, clips, or likenesses being used how you choose. 

6. Permission to Treat

A permission to treat section releases your nonprofit from legal repercussions if first aid or any similar medical service is rendered during a volunteer’s time at your organization. Volunteers cannot file claims indicating your organization is to blame for the initial health or medical emergency, or for health issues that arose after or in connection to an incident. 

A permission to treat section additionally grants you the right to perform emergency medical treatments on a minor at the expense of the guardian or parent — not your organization. 

7. Release of Liability/Explicit Volunteer Confirmation

Participant consent lays out the descriptions, responsibilities, rules, and acceptance of risks narrated across the entire waiver.

The language of your liability release is important. Many nonprofits and organizations choose to employ verbatim that the volunteer is “willingly,” “actively,” and “voluntarily” signing the release with their full expressed consent and intent. By signing the release, the volunteer agrees to all the aforementioned clauses — and checks off an essential part of your successful volunteer screening and orientation process.  

Best Practices for Using Volunteer Liability Waivers

These volunteer waiver tips ensure your entire form-management system is smooth, straightforward, and — most importantly — simple for you and your volunteers alike to understand. 

1. Manage Waivers Through a Software

Volunteer management software simplifies and streamlines the entire waiver process. From storing signed documents to moving away from fragile paper systems, these programs are designed for compatibility with multiple file forms, including .docx, .pdf, .png, .xlsx, .txt and more.

Managing volunteer waivers through software allows you to:

  • Upload waivers into the volunteer profiles, saving you time from manual filing and retrieval.
  • Attach additional supplementary records to the waivers, such as photocopies of a driver’s license
  • Search, filter, and retrieve individual liability waivers as you need them
  • Have peace of mind knowing that liability waivers you’ve collected will always be there.

2. Make Waivers Part of Your Screenings

Waivers and background checks are particularly critical if your volunteers work with certain populations, such as children, the disabled, or the elderly. However, nearly 27 percent of nonprofits don’t support any background checks, screenings, or liability release measures, leaving themselves and their constituents at risk.

Build waiver signing and release statements into the earliest days of your organization’s overall volunteer recruitment pipeline. The process will grow simpler and more organic the longer it’s supported, and you’ll get better at writing for your organization’s specific consent and liability needs.  

3. Be Explicit

Transparency is at the heart of every type of volunteer waiver: 

  • Your organization must be transparent about its volunteer expectations, rules, and policies, as well as the oversight across these measures. 
  • Your volunteers must be transparent about their backgrounds, skills, goals, and own expectations when they decide to volunteer for your organization.

Volunteer waivers are necessary to close any gaps in understanding of duties and responsibilities. The clearer and more direct your language, the better. Then, if any accidents or issues arise, you have clear proof of accountability tucked in your back pocket, ready to objectively mediate misunderstandings. 

4. Craft Them Toward Role-Specifics

Even non-role-specific waivers can learn a lot from role-geared ones — that’s because this kind of liability release provides clear details on the nature of a volunteer’s work and level of commitment, giving all parties time to understand and sign-off on the relationship. 

Use your volunteer release forms as the central piece of paper illustrating any of these requirements as early as possible: 

  • Physical demands related to the volunteer’s activities.
  • Mental or emotional experiences that may arise from a volunteer’s form of work.
  • Typical volunteer environment, location, and hours.
  • Demographics or populations the volunteer can expect to work with.
  • Equipment the volunteer must use to fulfill their role.

5. Use Print and Digital Waivers

Certain volunteer situations and demographics will be better suited toward traditional print waivers, such as senior volunteer positions with many hours a week and more formal role documentation subsequently required. For others, an online liability waiver makes more sense, such as during major public-facing events like charity runs, where large groups of people will need to sign off before participating.  

In either case, volunteer management software with document storage functions makes cataloging your waivers easy, regardless of the original format, amount, or timeline. 

6. Have Them Reviewed

Consider having your volunteer releases and waivers of liability read over by someone with legal expertise. Law students at local universities, as well as firms with pro-bono programs, make great resources, especially to ensure your forms are understandable and accessible, yet contain legally pertinent language.  

7. Note the Difference Between a Liability Waiver and Release

There is a legal difference between the terms “liability waiver” and “liability release.” 

  • A liability waiver has the signee — your volunteer — give up the right to sue your organization in the event of an emergency, accident, or negative experience. 
  • A liability release transfers legal responsibility for emergencies, accidents, or negative encounters off your organization, mitigating the risk of hosting volunteer activities.

Luckily, most organizations don’t need to be ensnared in a terminology rabbit hole. Organizations can simply skirt confusion by wording both a liability waiver and a liability release into all their volunteer forms across all different volunteer capacities. 

Simplify Managing Your Volunteers

Using the right volunteer management software is the ticket to improving your volunteer operations, with these programs serving as your right-hand tool across tasks and to-dos. 

Demo our industry-leading platform today to see for yourself how much more you can accomplish with Volgistics.

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