Key Analytics for Volunteer Organizations

Key analytics for volunteer organizations

You don’t need a degree in advanced data analytics to extract valuable insights from your organization’s activities. Get a sense of how volunteer organizations can use analytics and — more importantly — what these metrics have to tell you about improving your operations. We’ll walk you through it in our guide to nonprofit analytics.

Why Have KPIs for Your Nonprofit?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) refer to objective, measured values organizations track and calculate to reveal their progress towards stated goals.

In the nonprofit sector, KPIs are an invaluable method to ground programs, practices, and beneficiary or community impact. Volunteer organizations and nonprofit institutions using KPI measurements have an objective set of values showcasing their current successes and areas of improvement toward reaching targets.

In general, there are two categories of KPIs relevant for volunteer organizations:

  • High-level: High-level KPIs review the annual or long-term performance and achievement goals of your organization. For example, a high-level KPI could be increasing your volunteer retention rates by 10% this year.
  • Low-level: Low-level KPIs refer to operational shifts aimed at improving the practices and daily outputs of employees or departments at your organization or nonprofit. For example, a low-level KPI may include responding to all Facebook messages received by your nonprofit within the hour.

How Important Are Volunteers to a Nonprofit’s KPIs?

Volunteers are an integral part of a nonprofit’s infrastructure. Without volunteer hours and the quantifiable impact of their time, efforts, skills, and expertise, the nonprofit industry would cease to function as it does, hindered by limited financial and personnel resources that the very presence of volunteers directly bridges.

In fact, the estimated value of a volunteer’s time exceeds $25 an hour, and with 63 million Americans regularly volunteering, that translates into a whopping $203 billion in cost-savings for the nonprofit sector.

Volunteer Impact Metrics for Nonprofits

Consider the following KPIs to grasp the true impact of volunteerism on your nonprofit, plus the qualitative and quantitative results generated by these essential individuals.

1. Volunteer Hours

Tracking volunteer hours doesn’t start and stop with individuals clocking in. While it’s important for your nonprofit to understand attendance and service-hour contributions across its volunteer schedule every week, month, and year, it’s what you do with that information that’ll contribute to those high- and low-level KPIs, such as:

  • Improving program staffing and scheduling
  • Bolstered grant application data and eligibility
  • Better fund accounting
  • Smoother audits and expense function reporting as required by FASB 117

2. Volunteer Retention Rate

Strong volunteer retention percentages indicate your organization’s success at welcoming, training, and pairing volunteers with meaningful work that keeps them coming back for more.

Calculate your retention rates by first determining the number of volunteers you had at the beginning of your measurement period. For example, let’s say you have 50 names in your volunteer management system right now.

Next, distinguish how many of those 50 volunteers joined during this measurement period. You’ll then want to note how many volunteers you “lost” this year, as well.

Using our example, let’s say your nonprofit gained 15 volunteers in a year but lost 5. This sets your gross volunteer roll at 60 people.

Re-subtract your new volunteers from that gross figure. This provides your net volunteer count, the true indication of your retention efforts from this year.  Finally, to determine your objective volunteer retention rate, divide your net figure from how many volunteers you had at the beginning of the year, then multiply by 100.

To illustrate this final calculation using the figures from our example:

  • 60 (gross volunteers) – 15 (new volunteers) = 45 (net volunteers)
  • 45 (net volunteers) / 50 (beginning number of volunteers)  x 100 = 90% retention rate for the year

3. Volunteer Donation Rate

According to VolunteerMarch.org, volunteers donate 10 times as much money to organizations they dedicate free time to than non-volunteers.

With such an innate donation-conversion potential, nonprofits should do everything in their power to track — and then nurture — volunteer donations via KPI measurements.

Understanding your volunteer donation rates can help you craft strategic fundraising initiatives, write targeted campaigns, and evolve how your organization targets and nurtures new volunteers — particularly by recruiting high net-worth volunteers and groups.

Nonprofits cite email as a primary form of communication with supporters.

4. Beneficiaries Served

Another pertinent KPI for nonprofits to analyze is its beneficiaries served.

Beneficiaries can be counted program-by-program or event-by-event. For example, a local food bank may count the total number of plates served during every Sunday dinner. Beneficiaries-served data can also be aggregated, as seen by real-life examples like the Crisis Text Line publishing the actual number of text messages sent across macro-time periods. In doing so, Crisis Text Line showcases the real, numerical value of the work they do — and look impressive to boot.

As a bonus, consider having your nonprofit review its beneficiary satisfaction rates. You can collect your beneficiaries’ opinions using anonymous online or print surveys, calculating a net promoter score, initiating an email or social-media survey, or using any other platform most likely to be visible and engaging to your target community.

Social Media Analytics for Nonprofits

5. Volunteer and Program Attendance

Volunteer and program attendance KPIs compare your total event attendance with how many attendees are current volunteers.

This data reveals a new level of engagement for organizations to study and capitalize on. Yet nonprofits cannot do so unless they understand who’s attending their events, when, and why.

This KPI is also a balancing act. A high percentage of total event attendance based on volunteers or their families may indicate your organization needs to re-think its marketing and PR campaigns. On the other hand, volunteers who minimally interact with your organization can reveal a lack of engagement or overall mission buy-in — two key concerns leading to potential volunteer turnover.

Google Analytics Metrics for Nonprofits

Online analytic tools offered by major search engines are perhaps your most valuable tool to track key website metrics, with no platform more dominant than Google Analytics.

Because Google is today’s leading search engine — garnering over 60% of all web queries daily — it makes sense to choose its analytics platform. Using Google Analytics metrics for your nonprofit opens the door to a wealth of data surrounding the success and usefulness of your website. Better yet, Google Analytics’ standard package is free.

To set up a Google Analytics profile for your nonprofit, follow these steps.

  • Create or sign into your official Analytics account: See how to do so on Google’s Get Started page.
  • Create your site’s Property: Your Property will be the main data-aggregation point for your website or app. Setting up your Property is crucial before continuing to further Google Analytics steps.
  • Filter your data views: Follow the prompts to tailor what data you want to begin tracking, as well as sub-data categories.
  • Install your analytics tracking code: This gives the platform access to begin aggregating data in your Property, funneling insights based on those data view reports.

Social Media Analytics for Nonprofits

Social media’s immense popularity and usage positions it as a key platform for nonprofits to measure and embrace. Many have, yet social website analytics for nonprofits can inform even better decision-making regarding post types, frequency, language, graphics, and more.

1. Reputation or Review Management

Reputation or review management analytics keep track of your nonprofit’s online reviews across platforms. It’s a useful benchmark for organizations spread across multiple service sites, as well as those with one office or location to hear of real peoples’ experiences with your nonprofit.

Use review-management reports to spot repeated issues in your events, interactions, or work. Review-management tools can also send alerts when someone writes you a new review, letting you respond quickly and efficiently to address their comment and thank them for their input.

Online engagement refers to how a user is interacting with your website. As the word suggests, engagement metrics help you see popular pages and activities supporters visit your website for.

2. Engagement

Like the similarly named web engagement analytic, social engagement data is an important nonprofit marketing metric that reveals how actively people interact with your social media profiles.

Social engagement is often broken down into three focus areas:

  • Likes: Number of likes your posts receive.
  • Comments: Number of comments your posts have.
  • Shares: The total number of shares your posts generate.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter use engagement data to determine how many newsfeeds to display your content on. The higher your engagement KPIs, the more these platforms register your profile as high-quality and valuable — and the more feeds showcase your content. For this reason, engagement is essential to organic social media growth.

3. Public Opinion

Otherwise known as social listening, public opinion analysis reveals a more complete picture of your nonprofit’s profile robustness. In other words, social media public opinion research identifies how top-of-mind your organization is to the public — plus why.

Aside from distributing branded voice-of-customer surveys, there are a few metrics to glean your public opinion:

  • Reach or impressions: How many “eyes” see your posts, but don’t necessarily engage further.
  • Brand mentions: Rates of people tagging your nonprofit in their own posts.
  • Profile visits: Distinguishing between passive followers who follow you but don’t visit your page, active followers who follow you and visit you, and leads who don’t follow you but have found and viewed your profile.
  • Active followers: People who have liked, commented, shared, or visited your page in the past 30 days.

4. Other Best Practices

Consider these other social-media analytics best practices when diving deeper into how to utilize analytics for nonprofit success, boosting the impact of your profiles:

  • Be active: Facebook displays your nonprofit’s typical response rates, as well as teases reviews. Boost both by assigning a staff member, intern, or trusted volunteers to be social media managers, keeping your voice consistent and active.
  • Be human: Put a human face on your nonprofit’s social media presence. Your profiles are likely one of the first brand touchpoints a stranger has with your organization. Assure you come across as warm, passionate, informative, and inviting.

Donor and Nonprofit Fundraising Analytics

The complexity of charity reporting, combined with the daily demands of sustainable nonprofit fundraising, makes donor analytics one of the most vital KPIs for volunteer organizations today.

With donor and fundraising analytics, you wield the best chance to identify high-value donor pools and resources — in turn helping you understand what makes them tick. Consider these nonprofit donation analytics to do so.

1. Donor Retention Rates

Retained donors include supporters who have given to your nonprofit more than once. Low repeat donor figures or high turnover rates may indicate it’s time to re-calibrate your donor relationship strategies or set up new cultivation models altogether.

There are several sub-categories of donor retention metrics you can also track here, such as:

  • Average donor gift size
  • Average pledge amount
  • Year-over-year donor growth
  • Pledge fulfillment rate — that is, the percentage of pledges actually received

2. Donor Demographic Analytics

It’s important to know the kinds of people financially supporting your organization to create more persuasive campaigns, fundraising events, and marketing content. Having concrete donor data, though, also serves another useful purpose — to identify qualified major gift leads.

Donor analysis helps construct profiles of your supporters, often categorized by the following information:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Occupation or employer information
  • Education level
  • Marital status
  • Children and grandchildren
  • Community or professional connections
  • Other philanthropic history, such as donations or sponsorships of other nonprofits

3. Donor Wealth Markers

Donor wealth markers are deeper metrics tracking current and prospective supporters in the high wealth category. Compared to broad donor data or general nonprofit marketing metrics, wealth markers display individuals with a higher chance of contributing a major gift.

Data points that may indicate wealth markers include any of the following:

  • Real estate assets
  • Stock ownership and other investment vehicles
  • Political campaign contributions
  • Major gift support to other community causes or nonprofits
  • Extensive business networks and professional affiliations or associations

4. Donation Types and Methods

Just as you compile information on current and potential donors, you’ll want a system documenting the types of donations procured, as well as its percentage compared to the whole.

Primary donation types for nonprofits to measure may be:

  • Major gift amounts
  • Mid-tier gift amounts
  • Small gift amounts
  • Planned or pledged contributions
  • Unplanned monthly donations
  • Annual fund contributions

To explore your donation data even further, consider also tracking donation methods — that is, how funds are received across events and initiatives. This category of KPIs for nonprofits will include:

  • In-person, ad-hoc donations
  • Online ad-hoc giving
  • Text-to-give campaigns
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Crowdfunding campaigns
  • Event tickets and registration fees
  • Total event fundraising
  • Online and in-person merchandise purchases

5. Cost-Per-Dollar Raised (CPDR)

Discover your total fundraising return on investments (ROIs) by calculating your cost-per-dollar raised, or how much you spent on hosting a fundraising effort compared to how much funds you brought in.

This expenses-out, revenue-in metric is essential to maintaining sustainable fundraising operations. To calculate CPDR, divide your fundraising budget by your total funds raised. For example, a charity golf tournament costing you $1,200 but generating $5,500 has a profitable CPDR of $0.22.

Use your CPDR to determine which of the year’s campaigns were most cost-effective, as well as where you can make changes and find cost-savings next time around.

See how to utilize analytics for nonprofit success.

See How to Utilize Analytics for Nonprofit Success

Get a taste for using data analytics and custom KPIs from Volgistics’ industry-leading volunteer management software. Try your free 30-day demo, or explore our video tutorials to see just what the software offers for simplifying nonprofit operations.

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See notifications on the Welcome Page

Tip of the Week April 06, 2020

Volgistics’ Welcome Page is a landing page—the first page operators will see when they log in. In addition to providing new feature messages, account statistics, birthday lists, and tips of the week (like this one), the Welcome Page will also include a ‘Mail’ section directing operators’ attention to a variety of unread messages, alerts, and notifications, including:

  • New messages
  • Schedule alerts
  • Upload alerts
  • Download notifications
  • Pending applications
  • Unread help inquiries

New messages (such as reports), schedule alerts (for volunteer self-scheduling), as well as upload alerts and download notifications can all be viewed on the In Box tab. Pending applications can be viewed on the Applications tab, and unread help inquiry responses can be viewed on the Help E-Mail tab. A quick glance at the Mail section of the Welcome page can be a great way to keep an eye on any unread messages or notifications an operator may wish to quickly consult.

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Link to volunteer websites

Tip of the Week March 30, 2020

Volunteer records in Volgistics have a Web site field on the Core tab. On group records, this field can be used to record the organization’s web site. On individual volunteer records, you can record the volunteer’s personal web page or their page on sites such as Facebook or Twitter.

When a valid URL address is recorded in this field, you can include a Visit link by the field. This link will take you directly to the web site entered in the field. If you’re already signed into your account, such as Facebook, the link provides an easy way to go to the volunteer’s page and do something like make a post on their timeline or send a private message.

If the Web site field is hidden or the Visit link is not enabled, you can change this in Setup by following these steps:

  1. Select Setup from the Menu.
  2. Choose Field options.
  3. Choose Core tab.
  4. Click the Web site link.

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How to Create a Successful Mentoring Program in Your Volunteer Organization

How to Create a Successful Mentoring Program in Your Volunteer Organization

Volunteer training via peer mentorship is quickly gaining popularity across several industries. Shaking up the traditional volunteer orientation, these mentorship programs offer an alternative to training, courses, or compliance classes for new volunteers.

How do you develop a volunteer mentoring program that both engages and educates? Is the planning worth it? Explore the insights and steps in this guide to see for yourself.

Benefits of Mentoring Within Volunteer Organizations

Understanding the advantages of peer mentoring will help you shape a program that works best for your nonprofit or organization — one that’s most likely to bring about positive change.

Creates More Effective Training

Ever heard of the 70-20-10 rule?It’s used in the fields of leadership and professional development to remind us that 70% of learning is best retained through actual experiential assignments — followed by 20% via interpersonal exchanges, and only 10% through formal courses.

In other words, people learn best with hands-on training and relationships, not rote instruction.

The maxim is a powerful motivator for starting a volunteer mentorship program. Compared to traditional training sessions, brochures, or manuals, volunteers will be more engaged and retain more critical role information through a hands-on mentor experience.

Fosters Social Connection

Volunteering at a new organization for the first time can be intimidating. People must adapt to pre-existing rules, workflows, and behaviors in a short amount of time, while also using their skills to make a valuable first impression.

With a peer mentor program, new volunteers have an instant connection to a veteran on the squad. The mentor provides guidance and counseling that speeds up the orientation process, while offering a welcoming, ongoing source of support. This connection makes their volunteer experience far more approachable, resulting in increased engagement and retention.

Improves Knowledge Transfer

Improves Knowledge Transfer

Veteran volunteers possess a great deal of knowledge about how things work at your organization. They’re familiar with your infrastructure, computer equipment, software, supplies, and general building protocol.

Some of this knowledge can be taught, but most will be picked up organically over time. Through a formal mentorship program, veteran volunteers can pass along the unique knowledge they’ve learned on the job. These programs also allow for skill sharing and development. The knowledge transfer innate in peer mentoring also reduces volunteer burnout and turnover complications, where only a handful of “experts” shoulder the majority of responsibilities, but leave you high and dry when they’re not around.

Integrates Volunteers Faster

In corporate settings, over 80% of organizations manage some form of orientation program. Those with the most robust and dynamic interpersonal programs are shown to maintain stronger financial performances — plus higher employee engagement rates — compared to counterparts who focus only on technical courses.

Organizations likely experience these downstream benefits because peer mentors help new employees hit the ground running. With peer mentoring, training timelines shorten without sacrificing role preparation, allowing a new volunteer to contribute sooner. As a result, your organization experiences the benefits of their performance earlier. Plus, you can identify a new volunteer’s innate strengths, talents, and capabilities.

Improves Change Management and Turnover Pain Points

Building a sustainable, ongoing volunteer pipeline is one of the largest and most stressful responsibilities of a volunteer coordinator. Constant volunteer flux makes it challenging to organize shifts, often turning scheduling into a series of ad-hoc arrangements thrown together on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Mentorship programs have a direct, positive influence on volunteer recruitment and engagement. When successfully implemented, they help secure the volunteers you already have, while simultaneously attracting more. Having a pool of dedicated volunteers makes scheduling shifts and tasks easier, resulting in less stress and overall program resilience.

Develops Trust

One hallmark of a healthy volunteer organization is a mutual sense of trust between employees and volunteers.

It’s easy for organizations — especially small or new ones — to slip into a helicopter mindset where organizers assign menial work for volunteers to complete one at a time. Those volunteers must then report back after every task, with limited room for feedback, development, or growth.

Peer management programs help break this culture by building real teamwork and camaraderie. Staff members can trust the mentor-mentee relationship will produce capable volunteers, which will ultimately speed up the journey toward value-additive contributions.

Sharpens Risk Management

Risk management for volunteer organizations can take many forms. Nonprofits, specifically, must adhere to a variety of practices and regulations prescribed by their 501(c) status, including rules about fundraising, sponsorships, gifts, and financial management.

What’s more, organizations and nonprofits must consider their own public image. A volunteer organization’s reputation consists of several factors, including the impact it has on the community, the way it treats constituents, and its interactions with staff and volunteers.

Peer mentorship models help ensure those interactions are as positive, productive, and welcoming as possible. You’re assured your organization puts its best foot forward with every volunteer that walks through your doors. Those volunteers will be far more likely to sing your praises in the community, boosting your reputation in an authentic, yet effective way.

Types of Mentoring Programs

Types of Mentoring Programs

Volunteer organizations have a few mentorship models to choose from when launching a new program. The three most common are:

1. Mentor and Mentee (1:1)

As the most traditional program type, this mentor-mentee initiative pairs a new volunteer with their own hand-selected mentor to show them the ropes. Participants are often matched based on similarities — background, age, interests, etc. — and meet one-on-one for formal and informal sessions.

Some of the benefits of mentor-mentee programs are that they:

  • Assign a direct and immediate connection for new volunteers.
  • Help develop confidence for both individuals.
  • Increase volunteer retention rates.
  • Boost mission and value buy-in.
  • Provide a greater sense of purpose for mentors.

2. Peer-to-Peer

Peer-to-peer mentor programs are similar to traditional mentor-driven ones. However, new volunteers are explicitly paired with a veteran volunteer who has a similar age or status. This arrangement can alleviate some of the pressures and vertical hierarchies innate in a mentor relationship. Peer-to-peer programs also:

3. Group Mentorship

Finally, organizations may decide to create a group mentorship program. These arrangements may pair two or more new volunteers with a single, more experienced member. Or, the mentorship program can operate like a larger group meet-up, with all the fresh volunteers participating in co-training and organizational integration. The benefits of group mentorships include:

  • Larger, more immediate social integration for volunteers.
  • Richer group knowledge and skillset exchange.
  • Less pressure placed on a mentor if two or more facilitators are assigned to run meetings.

How to Start a Volunteer Mentoring Program

How to Start a Volunteer Mentoring Program

Create a successful mentoring program for your volunteer organizations with this step-by-step guide:

1. Understand Your Why

Ask yourself why you’re initiating this program. You may find several answers fit your current needs:

  • To holistically welcome new volunteers.
  • To increase volunteer participation and retention.
  • To improve knowledge sharing and maximize volunteer skills.
  • To alleviate a volunteer coordinator’s training and onboarding burden.
  • To reinvigorate your volunteer organization’s overall culture.

2. Define Ideal Objectives

The best mentorship programs have target outcomes. These outcomes, or end goals, help scaffold the curriculum and hands-on training sessions with relevant topics for your volunteers — yet remain manageable for the mentors themselves. Take care to define your program’s ideal outcomes, such as:

  • Acquired skills: What skills will participants possess by the end of the program?
  • Regulatory and compliance understanding: Are there regulations, laws, or provisions that volunteers need to know about to execute tasks or roles properly?
  • End-date: Is there a definitive end-date for the program? Or, can mentors and mentees conduct ongoing collaborative work?
  • Results: How will you measure the effectiveness of the mentorship? Consider anonymous or direct surveys, exit interviews, online questionnaires, etc.

3. Select a Mentoring Format

Make sure the mentoring program’s schedule isn’t too demanding or rigid. These are volunteers, after all. However, certain structures must be in place for mentors and mentees to step immediately into, ensuring the program’s smooth implementation. Some format considerations include:

  • Group, peer, or 1:1 mentoring.
  • Optional or mandatory participation.
  • Open, invite, or application-only enrollment.
  • Duration — days, weeks, months, or ongoing.
  • Progress tracking and accountability methods.

4. Create the Program Outline

Mentoring outlines designate the key stages of the volunteer program. Think of it as a blueprint. The program’s major topical framework is there, yet outlines leave plenty of room for creativity and flexibility, based on a mentor’s discretion and the new volunteer’s needs.

Use your outline to set the following major program perimeters:

  • Official mentoring program kickoff.
  • Program schedule, key training dates, and topics to cover during volunteer shifts.
  • Available support resources.
  • Suggestions for informal meet-ups.
  • Criteria to meet before graduating to the next training date or topic.

5. Select the Program’s Administrators

Volunteer managers or coordinators oversee the vast majority of volunteer mentoring initiatives. These members of your staff possess the expertise critical to shaping a functional and engaging program. However, they’re far from the only people whose insights will be instrumental in launching the new endeavor.

Using defined objectives and an official program outline, staff must ensure all stakeholders are aligned on the strategic value of the mentoring program. This includes discussing developments with a board of directors, plus any other major players who will be affected by a volunteer’s program development.

6. Attract Mentors

Mentors sit at the heart of your program. Like the new volunteers themselves, mentors should also have something to gain and learn while participating in your initiative. Ensure you’re broadcasting those unique benefits to attract the best and brightest potential mentors. Some benefits of being a mentor include:

  • Gaining an opportunity to show leadership potential.
  • Promoting community impact and change.
  • Challenging yourself in a new position.
  • Improving your personal skillsets and accomplishments.

You’ll also need to create an application form for volunteer mentors. These can be housed online or in print at your organization, mirroring your broader volunteer application forms. Ensure your applications give a clear and realistic mentor time commitment, plus participation benefits and any accolades or rewards a mentor might receive.

7. Attract Mentees

Mentees must be assured the volunteer program is more than just a dolled-up orientation. Participation will provide real, tangible insights and information, plus the confidence to dive into your organization and give back.

Make program sign-up as easy as possible for mentees. Similar to your mentor applications, provide a specific list of benefits participating mentees will get, including:

  • Hands-on instruction on your organization’s operations.
  • A direct contact to ask questions, seek guidance, and learn from.
  • Easier social integration into the new organization.
  • Increased confidence.
  • Boosted skillsets, which can be applied in their professional and personal lives.

8. Determine Mentor-Mentee Matching Methodology

If you’re creating a 1:1 or peer program, consider how you’ll go about pairing ideal mentor-mentee matches. Have all applicants fill out a robust profile allowing them to describe likes, interests, hobbies, jobs, and personality details, as well as demographic information like age and gender.

Using those profiles, you can then sort matches in two ways:

  • Self-matched pairs, where the mentors and mentees review profiles and submit top choices.
  • Administrative-matched pairs, where you select pairs or groups based on profile data.

9. Prepare Program Resources

At this point, all major program scaffolding has been completed. You and your staff have aligned program goals and schedules with the broader needs of your volunteer crew. You’ve created applications, drafted participant benefits, and started broadcasting the new program across all relevant channels.

Use this time to finalize any remaining program resources for your mentors and mentees. This may include:

  • Infrastructure, such as reserved rooms or space for meetings and training sessions.
  • Technology, especially volunteer management software that coordinates mentor and mentee schedules and tracks program hours.
  • Printed or digital program materials, especially any training modules.
  • Additional program items, such as participant t-shirts, training snacks, coffee, etc.

10. Consider Mentor Training

Spend time at the conclusion of your planning process walking through the typical training session a mentor will facilitate. Have you prepared everything they’ll need for this responsibility? Do mentors know who or where to turn to with their own questions or concerns?

You may even look into holding an official mentor’s kickoff night, relaying tips and best practices for this new program. This way, fellow mentors can meet one another, learn program expectations, and ask questions. Even your most veteran program members will need support from time to time, too.

Empower Your Organization’s Volunteers

Volgistics' industry-leading software serves as your central home for all things volunteerism.

Volgistics’ industry-leading software serves as your central home for all things volunteerism. From scheduling hours to tracking mentor program completion and compliance to relaying communications, Volgistics can make your volunteer management tasks easier without missing a beat.

You can also stay engaged with the latest volunteer management tips, tricks, and expertise via our blog. To get the best software for organizing your mentoring program or other volunteer management tasks, contact Volgistics today.

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Volunteer Guides for VicNet and VicTouch

Tip of the Week March 23, 2020

If your organization uses the VicTouch or VicNet modules, Volgistics offers guides and tutorials for your volunteers!

Help topic 1147 “How to Sign-in and Sign-out at VicTouch: A Brief Guide for Volunteers” has information for the VicTouch module. The direct link for this is: https://www.volgistics.com/ex/Help.dll?ACT=21&TOPIC=1147

Help topic 1148 “How to use VicNet: A Brief Guide for Volunteers” has information for the VicNet module. The direct link for this is: https://www.volgistics.com/ex/Help.dll?ACT=21&TOPIC=1148

Help topic 1215 “How to use VicNet Mobile: A Brief Guide for Volunteers” has information for the mobile view of VicNet. The direct link for this is: https://www.volgistics.com/ex/Help.dll?ACT=21&TOPIC=1215

You can also print hard copies of these help topics to give out at volunteer orientations or trainings. Click the Printable view link at the bottom of any help topic to do this. Or, you can include direct links to the help topics in welcome email messages. You can find help on how to create and send personalized email messages in help topics 2195 and 2103.

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How to Temporarily Suspend Volunteer Activities

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many organization are completely suspending or reducing the number of volunteer opportunities. There are several ways to handle this in your Volgistics account. This blog post explains more about each of your options.

Disable Self-Scheduling and Related Updates

Disable Self-Scheduling. If your volunteers self-schedule through the VicNet portal or VicTouch sign-in stations, you can simply disable self-scheduling so volunteers cannot make new schedule entries. Volunteer schedules will still show for the time you’re closed, but this will not impact volunteer hours served because these are recorded separately. To disable self-scheduling:

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Go to VicNet or VicTouch.
  3. Select Self scheduling.
  4. Un-check the box in front of “Allow volunteers to self-schedule.”
  5. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Inform Volunteers. You may also want to add information about the changes to the VicNet or VicTouch login pages to inform volunteers of the changes. To do this for VicNet:

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Go to VicNet.
  3. Select Ground rules.
  4. Update the information in the Login Instructions field.
  5. Click the Save button.

To update VicTouch:

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Go to VicTouch.
  3. Select Check-in sequence.
  4. Select PIN screen setup.
  5. Update the Greeting or PIN keypad instructions.
  6. Click the Save button.

You may need to shut down each VicTouch station and then restart to make the change show.

Disable Automatic Schedule Reminders. Volgistics can be set up to automatically send reminders to volunteers about when they are scheduled. To avoid confusion, you should disable these during the time volunteers will not be serving. To do this:

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Go to Scheduling.
  3. Select one of the reminder types.
  4. Un-check the box at the top by “Send reminders.”
  5. Click the Save button.

Repeat these steps for each type of reminder so you’re sure none will be sent.

Add Holidays

Another option if you do not want to actually remove the schedule for regularly scheduled volunteers is to add holidays for each date you will be closed. Adding holidays will remove the volunteers who are scheduled on a regular or repeating basis from the schedule, and also close all unfilled openings that repeat. Volunteers scheduled for only one day, and one-day only openings, are not removed by holidays so this is a good option if you will still have some positions open for volunteer service. To add holidays:

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Go to Scheduling.
  3. Select Holidays.
  4. Find the “Add” box at the bottom of the page and enter a date you’ll be closed and some text such as “COVID-19 Closure.”
  5. Click the Save button.
  6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 for each date you’ll be closed.

Block Self-Scheduling in Select Assignments

If you only want to prevent volunteers from self-scheduling in certain assignments, you can update the assignment’s Rules tab. If you also want to remove the volunteers already scheduled in the assignment, you will need to follow the additional steps in the “Remove Scheduled Volunteers” section below. Here is how to update the Rules tab:

  1. Select Assignments from the menu.
  2. Go to an assignment where you want to block self-scheduling.
  3. Select the Rules tab.
  4. Under “Who can sign-up for this schedule?” select Volunteers cannot schedule themselves or be scheduled by coordinators.
  5. Click the Save button.
  6. Repeat steps 1 – 5 for any other assignments where you want to block self-scheduling.

Remove Volunteers Scheduled

If you want to remove all the volunteers who are scheduled for a certain date you’re closed, you will need to do this on an assignment-by-assignment basis. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Select Assignments from the menu.
  2. Go to an assignment where you want to remove volunteers from the schedule.
  3. Select the Schedule tab.
  4. Go to the daily view for a date you want to remove the volunteers from.
  5. Click the Remove all link at the bottom right below the schedule entries. When the confirmation pop-up appears, click the OK button to verify you’d like to remove the scheduled volunteers.

You will need to repeat these steps for each assignment and date where you want to remove the scheduled volunteers.

Contact Support

If you have questions about which of these options to use, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Volgistics Support Team. Just explain what your organization’s plans are in response to the pandemic and we’ll be happy to give guidance on the best solution.

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Inform Volunteers About COVID-19 At VicTouch

Tip of the Week March 16, 2020

What should your volunteers do if they’re sick? Stay home, of course! But when your volunteers are on-site, it’s a good idea to remind them about proper hygiene, briefly explain some of the symptoms of COVID-19, and give instructions on what to do if they’re experiencing any of them. Using a holiday card at VicTouch, volunteers can get this information automatically, each time they sign in.

You can find a list of the common symptoms here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

Help topic 2327 VIC Greeting Cards Setup shows how to set up these cards. In addition, feel free to save this image and upload it for this holiday card. Just click the image to download it.

If you prefer to use your own image, it must meet the following requirements:

  • Format: GIF, JPG or PNG
  • Height: 600 pixels or less
  • Width: 300 pixels or less
  • Size: 48 kb or less

After you have your graphic, setup the “Holiday card (1)” or the “Holiday card (2)” as your reminder. In addition to providing information about global pandemics, these work great for reminding volunteers about upcoming events such as a deadline for updating their parking pass, service opportunities, meetings, classes, recognition banquets, or other community events.

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Best Ways to Reward Volunteers

Best Ways to Reward Volunteers

Volunteer appreciation recognizes the real impact that real people have on your organization.

These thank-you gifts and tokens of appreciation can help increase volunteer retention, stabilize your operations and increase your community engagement potential. But more importantly, they’re human, so recognizing the selfless service over 77 million Americans partake in every year goes a long way.

How can you give back to the volunteers who give so much to you? Explore this volunteer appreciation guide to learn why volunteer recognition is important, thoughtful volunteer appreciation ideas, best practices, and more for your volunteer management operations.

Understanding Why People Volunteer

Understanding Why People Volunteer

Understanding the reasoning behind your volunteer’s commitment helps you tailor appreciation ideas to their motives.

What are the top reasons people volunteer? National polling reveals:

  • Because they care about a cause: People routinely cite “making a difference” as a leading force behind their volunteer activity. This altruistic drive leads us to participate in causes, projects, and missions that mirror our values. Since nonprofits & volunteer organizations often serve as some of the most trusted and positive institutions in a community, they’re considered the place to give back and make a positive difference.
  • Because they’re personally impacted by an organization: Individuals are more likely to participate in a specific organization when they’ve been personally touched by its work. The same logic applies to volunteers with a personal connection to an organization’s central mission. For example, consider veterans working at organizations dedicated to military and veterans affairs, pet owners volunteering at pet shelters, and college students tutoring at schools near campus.
  • To share or use special skills: Volunteering gives people an outlet to exercise personal or professional skills, such as graphic design, financial planning, or grant writing. This rationale is particularly attractive for retirees, who make up a large portion of the ever-valuable category of skilled volunteers.
  • To better fill their time:Individuals seeking a way to use their free time meaningfully make ideal volunteers. This motivation makes them energetic and engaged in your organization work, happy to contribute in whatever way they can.
  • Join friends and family who volunteer: Volunteering offers a unique social experience depending on the nature of the work or project. Even volunteering with work colleagues can create stronger social bonds and camaraderie.
  • Because it’s a good networking opportunity: Corporate philanthropic programs often allow employees to volunteer at partner organizations. This creates a win-win situation, with volunteer organizations receiving a steady flow of skilled volunteers and employees an outlet to meet others in their organization.

Formal Versus Informal Volunteer Recognition

Successful volunteer recognition programs can fall into two celebration categories — formal and informal.

1. Formal Volunteer Appreciation

Formal volunteer appreciation are the recognition awards and events scheduled ahead of time. These planned thank-yous often involve gifts along with a ceremonial presentation.

Depending on time and resources, your organization can organize any number of formal volunteer appreciation events spearheaded by your staff:

  • Catered volunteer luncheons
  • Annual or semiannual volunteer awards
  • Certificates or acknowledgment from the mayor’s office
  • A carnival or festival for volunteers and their families
  • Gift baskets or gift cards to volunteers’ favorite restaurants or stores
  • Volunteer-of-the-month awards, social media posts, and website announcements
  • Formal volunteer advancement or progression programs

2. Informal Volunteer Appreciation

Informal volunteer appreciation comprises all the ways you imbue a culture of thanks into your organization’s everyday operations. Informal volunteer recognition is often non-tangible, though it may involve small physical tokens of thanks that you can deploy at a moment’s notice or when meaningful situations arise.

Popular ways to show informal volunteer appreciation include:

  • Volunteer boards with names, pictures, and accolades of your volunteers
  • Bringing in coffee and treats for volunteers
  • Establishing volunteer feedback surveys to glean insights and ideas
  • Handwritten thank-you notes and emails after major volunteer accomplishments
  • Birthday cards and treats delivered on the volunteer’s birthday
  • General conversations, support, and inclusivity fostered between staff and volunteers

Among their many pros, informal volunteer recognition ideas are cost-conscious and feasible regardless of your organization’s size. Often, these ideas see the most significant ongoing impact and buy-in when you or a member of your staff oversee them.

Volunteer Celebration Best Practices

Follow these reward and recognition tips to make the most of your volunteer appreciation ideas.

1. Make It a Priority

Volunteer programs should be a part of regular, day-to-day operations at your organization. Now, this doesn’t mean you hand out gifts daily. But it does mean your organizational culture is warm and appreciative and includes volunteers at every level.

Introduce the volunteer recognition program as part of someone’s role on your staff. Incorporating this function into a staff’s job duties will institutionalize volunteer thank-you gifts and strategies, rather than running an ad hoc or random program.

2. Show Appreciation Often

Frequent volunteer appreciation builds an environment volunteers want to participate in. This increases your organization’s volunteer retention rates, allowing you to host more events, help more constituents and make a larger area impact — all because you have a stable volunteer pool to draw from.

Use your intuition and common sense to devise a volunteer recognition schedule. Set up multiple kinds of recognition, some more casual, such as a bulletin board showcasing volunteer profiles and their hours, and some more ceremonious, such as annual volunteer appreciation dinners.

3. Understand Preferences

All of your volunteers are different. Their personalities, likes, and interests will determine the type of recognition most meaningful to them. Honor those preferences by matching gifts to the volunteer and putting yourself in their shoes to prepare valuable, memorable thank-yous.

Also, ensure you’re checking in with volunteers to pair the work they enjoy doing with the organization’s needs. Get creative! The more you can match preferences and skills, the richer the volunteer experience and the higher your retention rates.

4. Be Sincere

People know the difference between honest gratitude and perfunctory praise.

Be demonstrative with your volunteers, offering thanks and meeting their needs continually. Generously give your time and energy to ensure volunteers have the resources needed to perform their work. Maintain an open-door policy at your organization during any volunteer shifts. Most of all, have real conversations with the volunteers who step into your organization, making them feel like more than a worker bee.

Sincere displays of appreciation and recognition include:

  • In-person gifts and awards
  • Handwritten messages
  • Learning about volunteers’ friends, families, and jobs
  • Asking questions about their day or week — and really listening
  • Staying in routine contact via text, calls, and emails

5. Give-and-Take Feedback

Research shows volunteers crave feedback from the organizations they work for — and organizations want feedback from volunteers. These insights give both parties direction, result in better work, and structure new goals to strive for, grounding everyone’s time and talent. Yet many volunteer managers are afraid to survey volunteers, even though routine feedback is one of the healthiest best practices for members of any organization.

6. Highlight Skills and Expertise

At least once a week, create a task list of volunteer work that needs to be accomplished. Drafting these to-do lists ensures volunteers always have value-adding, not menial, work to perform.

Go the next step by creating skills surveys for volunteers to complete. Field expertise in things like IT and computers, accounting and bookkeeping, public relations, content marketing, social media, event planning, and more. Assign volunteers official titles and promote them according to their contributions. Doing all this creates a skills-based volunteer experience where individuals feel truly valued and can perform at their best. Who doesn’t want that?

7. Provide “Workplace” Amenities

Provide Workplace Amenities

Any amenities you offer to your staff should be extended to your volunteers. After all, these individuals are taking time out of their day to work for you — and not get paid for it.

You don’t have to go overboard here. Think free coffee, tea, water, and snacks available throughout a shift. If volunteers are working for four hours or longer, ensure they get a break. You can even invite long-term volunteers to staff retreats or bonding events.

8. Focus on Impact

Find ways to quantify the results of each volunteer’s service. Calculate variables such as the dollar value of their time, the money they’ve saved your organization, the number of people they’ve directly served — really any relevant volunteer impact metric. Use any means available to assign a number to their efforts, then shout it from the rooftop.

Meaningful Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

Volunteer recognition is for commemorating the impact these valuable individuals have at your organization. You want gifts for volunteers to be personal and meaningful. Yet as a nonprofit organization, you also can’t break the bank over volunteer recognition program ideas — even if you’d like to.

Use these volunteer gift ideas to thank those special individuals at the heart and soul of your volunteer organization.

1. Appreciation Tokens From Inside and Outside the Organization

Volunteers touch the lives of everyone at your organization. To honor their impact, ask those your organization serves to create thank-you notes, pass along stories, or write affirmations for their favorite volunteers. Gift these tokens of appreciation to relay just how much of an impact that volunteer has — straight from the people who’ve benefited from it.

2. Invites Onto Advisory Boards

Advisory boards and committees focus on specific operations at your organization, such as fundraising or event management. Consider asking long-term volunteers with years of service at your organization to join these committees. They’ll be honored by the trust you’re placing in them, while you benefit from the knowledge and expertise introducing fresh insights to your organization.

3. Mentorship Opportunity

Offer rewarding mentorship opportunities as a thank you to reflect the time and commitment a volunteer has made. Mentorship programs can work in one of two ways. Either the volunteer receives a mentor for professional and personal development or the volunteer can become a mentor. This second option works particularly well if your volunteer organization serves direct populations, such as children, veterans, or the elderly.

4. Treat Baskets

Everyone has a favorite snack! Stuff a basket full of them, surprising an outstanding volunteer with candies, chocolates, coffee beans, tea — hey, even a variety pack of their favorite potato chips.

You can also theme treat baskets. For example, put together “grilling goodies” containing gifts like gourmet barbecue sauces, new grilling tongs, and a recipe book for a volunteer you know loves firing up the grill.

5. Delivered Lunch

Coordinate lunch to be hand-delivered to a volunteer while they’re at work or in-house, volunteering at your organization. Bonus points if you know their favorite dish from a local cafe or restaurant, which will instantly brighten their day and show how much you care.

6. Personalized Projects

Personalized Projects

Want your organization to nurture the most excited, committed volunteer work? Just ask the volunteers themselves! Inquire about projects or tasks they’d personally like to take on in the organization. Those projects can be ones you currently support or entirely brand new, with the volunteer now spearheading a value-adding operation.

Letting volunteers pick their work shows respect, trust, and camaraderie. The fruits of their labor will likely reflect that.

7. Flowers or Plants

Got a green thumb among your volunteer ranks? Show how much your organization has “grown” because of them with a plant or flower bouquet hand-picked for their home, office, or garden. You can find even more creative ways to thank your volunteers, tucking heartfelt notes and affirmations into the bouquet itself.

8. Personalized Mug

Order a coffee or tea mug tailored with the volunteer’s name, an inside joke or a favorite quote of theirs. You can also inscribe a thank-you message right onto the mug’s surface as well, reminding your volunteer of their impact and value with every sip.

9. Discounts at Local Shops

Arrange a discount at a local store, business, or boutique fitting the volunteer’s interests. Similarly, and if you have the funds in your budget, you can purchase gift cards to these area stores, showing appreciation for your volunteer while also supporting local businesses. It’s in a win-win for all.

10. Give a Shout Out

Sing your volunteer’s praises across social media and e-newsletters. You can also create mini campaigns out of your recognition, such as weekly volunteer spotlights or volunteer-of-the-month posts.

Organizations can even go the extra step, sending articles naming specific volunteers and their accomplishments to local newspapers or industry newsletters. Municipalities all over the country maintain their own organization forums and resources, which make a great place to broadcast impact.

Make sure you have volunteer consent before sharing any pictures or information online. Consider adding a consent field to volunteer applications to make double-checking this even easier.

11. Pay It Forward

Cover the registration fee or part of the cost of a professional development course, activity, or conference you know a volunteer is attending. Paying it forward is especially great when you have student volunteers or adults who are continuing their education.

12. Nominate Them

Last but not least, look for opportunities to nominate a key volunteer for a local or state community award. These awards magnify your volunteer appreciation tactics, taking them from a strictly internal practice to an externally recognized and even more memorable form of thanks.

Research relevant awards in your city, state, or nonprofit sector. Chances are you already have a volunteer or two who meet nomination criteria and would make compelling candidates.

Show Appreciation for Your Volunteers

Show Appreciation for Your Volunteers

Explore the benefits of the customizable volunteer management platform from Volgistics. From easier scheduling and communications to tracking volunteer compliance, recognizing their accomplishments, and improving your overall volunteer lifecycle, we’re your partner in technology for volunteer leaders.

Get in touch for your free demo.

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National Volunteer Week Approaching

Tip of the Week March 09, 2019

National Volunteer Week is coming up! National Volunteer Week was established to inspire people to volunteer to make their communities a better place, to promote the recognition of volunteers, and to encourage volunteerism in general. The U.S. and Canada will celebrate NVW this year from April 19-25, 2020. Australia will celebrate NVW this year from 18-24 May 2020, and the United Kingdom celebrates NVW each year from 1-7 June 2020.

There are many resources available on the web to help you brainstorm ideas on how to celebrate NVW for your organization. One resource for ideas can be found here.

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Simplify VicNet access for users with multiple records

Tip of the Week March 02, 2020

If your organization uses the VicNet module you may have users who have both a volunteer record and a Coordinator record in your account. In these cases, when the user logs into the VicNet module they’ll need to enter the appropriate email address and password to be logged into their volunteer record or their Coordinator record respectively.

If these records have the same email address and password then the volunteer will be prompted to choose which one they want to login to. If this prompt does not appear, this indicates that these records do not currently have the same email address and password. These records won’t be linked in any way, so the user must take care to manage the login name and password for each record separately. Help topic 1093 offers additional clarification.

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