The Ultimate Guide to Volunteer Screening

Having a team of volunteers can significantly increase the impact of an organization. Competent volunteers can make a significant difference in day-to-day operations, and working with your organization benefits them by allowing them to build new skills and experience. However, you know not just any volunteer will do.

During the process of finding and signing up volunteers, you’re likely looking for evidence of a strong work ethic and an excellent cultural fit. But are you conducting volunteer background screenings? Many organizations and volunteer leaders don’t know exactly what they should be doing to vet volunteers before bringing them aboard. This guide to background checks for volunteers will explain all the critical information you need to know about screening new additions to your team.

Do Volunteers Need Background Checks?

Volunteers generously donate their time and energy to your cause because it’s something that resonates with them. In many cases, nonprofits can’t operate without them. When people turn up asking to help out, it can be tempting to agree immediately. However, conducting background checks on volunteers is just as critical as it is for any full-time employee. The following are all crucial points in the importance of screening volunteers.

1. Reputation

Volunteers are often on the front lines of your organization’s cause. They are the ones collecting materials for food drives, setting up booths, soliciting donations, and otherwise interacting with the public. To the people they interact with, your volunteers are no different from employees, and there is no material distinction between a volunteer and the organization they work for.

If a member of the public has a bad experience with a volunteer, they’ll associate your organization with that bad experience, and you’ll lose favor with them. Whether it’s something minor like a volunteer being slightly rude, or something catastrophic like a volunteer assaulting someone, the actions of people working on your organization’s behalf will define the public’s opinion.

If a volunteer’s conduct is bad enough to warrant news coverage, your organization might never recover from the blow to your reputation. It’s not always possible to weed out bad actors, but volunteer background check services are the best tool you have at your disposal.

2. Public Safety

If you find yourself wondering, “Why do I need to run background checks on volunteers?” consider the safety of the public and everyone within your organization. It wouldn’t make any sense for someone convicted of criminal negligence to work with children in a church program, nor would it be a good idea to allow someone with a record of car accidents to drive the activities bus at an assisted living home.

Most situations don’t line up with this exactly, but it’s the responsibility of a volunteer leader to do their utmost to prevent unsuitable candidates from progressing. A comprehensive background check is the most thorough way to do so.

3. Liability and Legal Responsibility

From an ethical and legal standpoint, you do not want to be responsible for the negligent selection of volunteers. When volunteers have access to particularly vulnerable demographics, like children or seniors, they can do a significant amount of damage. Volunteers who work with confidential or financial information deserve a more thorough screening as well.

Some cases, such as hospital volunteer background checks, are a legal requirement. For example, volunteers in hospices are non-paid employees, and therefore, federal law requires them to undergo a criminal background check. In other cases, hospital volunteer background checks may be a condition for insurance or Medicare reimbursement, or a mandatory condition for receiving a grant.

How Should I Screen Volunteers?

Screening potential volunteers isn’t as cut and dry as performing a criminal background check and getting on with things. You should center your entire recruitment process on screening as much as possible, from the application onward. The following volunteer screening checklist will help get you in the right mindset to screen applicants effectively.

1. Through Applications

When collecting information about prospective volunteers, your application form is the first chance to attract the best candidates and ask them to tell you about themselves. To start with, you’ll need to leave room for essential information such as:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Temporary and permanent mailing address
  • Two to three references

When requesting references, think about the type of position you’re trying to fill. For a volunteer position at an animal shelter where you expect many minors to apply, personal references will often be adequate. For responsibilities that involve direct and frequent contact with vulnerable populations, professional references who can speak about the applicant’s experience and character are desirable.

You only have so much room on one of these forms, so asking the right questions is imperative. These volunteer screening questions lead applicants to reveal more about themselves:

  • What inspired you to volunteer with us?
  • What do you hope to get out of volunteering?
  • What are your interests and hobbies?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What kind of volunteering have you done in the past?

The key is to choose open-ended questions, rather than guiding them through a list of volunteer pre-screening questions that have seemingly “right” answers.

2. Reference Checks

Some volunteer leaders request references, then never check them, assuming it’s not all that important to follow up on. However, one of the brightest red flags you can turn up is when a prospective volunteer offers references that are fake or otherwise shady. If you call what’s supposed to be the work number of a supervisor and hear a raucous party going on in the background, you might be dealing with a lie. Fake references are ample grounds for screening out an applicant.

When you do connect with legitimate references, keep in mind that they have nothing to gain from giving you their time. Remain respectful and grateful, while trying to get as much insight into the candidate’s work ethic and emotional stability.

3. Interview Applicants

The interview is a chance for you to get a more in-depth insight into an applicant’s personality. Even if a potential volunteer knows how to sound good on paper, you might find them to be unsuitable following the interview. The key is to try and avoid stiff, awkward questions like the classic, “Tell me about yourself.” This question makes people completely freeze, and it’s too open-ended to get an insightful answer from in most cases.

Asking the applicant questions about why they are getting involved can reveal desirable traits like leadership skills and organizational ability. Emotional investment in a cause is often a good predictor of performance and commitment.

On the other hand, applicants who are surly, sarcastic, rude, or seem bored in the interview are more likely to cause problems with other volunteers, employees, or the populations you serve.

4. Background Checks

Once you’ve determined an applicant could be a valuable volunteer, it’s time to complete the process by performing background checks. In smaller organizations, volunteer leaders may not be sure how to run background checks on volunteers, and it can be a little overwhelming to dive right into.

Partnering with a reputable vendor of background check services is a good idea, as they can provide a broader range of options that can fit tight budgets. The advantages of online volunteer screening include organizational convenience, coordination, and speed.

Volunteer Background Check Requirements

It may come as a surprise to learn there is no single law that stipulates volunteers must undergo background checks. Neither federal nor state law completely covers the subject. Instead, base the rules that apply to screening volunteers on the duties they will perform within your organization.

Many states require background checks for volunteers who participate in state activities. In addition to hospice care, volunteers in schools or other state-funded facilities often require some manner of screening. Three federal laws apply to volunteer screenings:

  • National Child Protection Act of 1993 (NCPA): Also called Oprah’s Law, the NCPA allowed schools, youth-serving organizations, and daycare facilities to access national criminal records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • Volunteers for Children Act of 1998 (VCA): The VCA expanded on the NCPA to allow volunteer organizations to access federal criminal records. However, they do not have direct access to the files but must request them through a state agency.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): While usually brought up in regards to credit reports, the FCRA also governs background checks by third-party companies.

Types of Volunteer Screening Checks

You can implement a variety of screening checks as part of your process. Ideally, every organization would be able to run every type of screening check on every applicant — but that’s not feasible in terms of time and budget. These seven forms of screening checks have varying levels of usefulness, depending on your industry and the role of the volunteer in question.

1. Criminal Background Check

This screening is what most people think of when they hear the term “background check,” and it’s the underpinning of any screening program. It functions on a Social Security number trace, allowing you to see criminal databases and court records on the national, state, and county levels. Volunteer criminal background checks should be part of screenings for volunteers in any industry, even when the law doesn’t require it.

2. Sex Offender Registry

Screening for volunteer coaches and other positions that involve close interaction with children should always include a check of the Dru Sjodin Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website Registry. As one of the most critical reports for background checks on school volunteers, it compiles listings of registered sex offenders in real time.

3. ID Verification

It’s an unfortunate fact that identity theft is on the rise. In 2017, 16.7 million people had their identifying information stolen, and thieves could use some of that to falsify applications for employment and volunteer work. It’s one of the more unlikely scenarios, but ID verification services can prevent you from unwittingly bringing on a volunteer who has submitted stolen or false information.

4. Motor Vehicle Checks

Checking driving records is an essential part of church volunteer screening, or screening for any volunteer who may end up driving a vehicle as one of their job responsibilities. For instance, don’t skip these background checks for parent volunteers who sign up to drive for a field trip. Volunteers in health care and social services are also likely to need one of these checks to fully perform their roles.

A motor vehicle record check will reveal any incidents in the last three to seven years of an applicant’s driving history.

5. Drug Tests

The results of substance abuse speak for themselves. If a volunteer is consuming illicit substances, it can affect productivity, as well as negatively impact the safety of everyone around them. Drug tests are critical in positions where a volunteer will be doing something that requires close attention to safety, such as working with large animals in a zoo or veterinary capacity. Drug testing is a relatively cost-effective part of a comprehensive volunteer screening program.

6. Employment and Education Verification

Some volunteer applicants attempt to embellish their achievements in education or employment, but a verification check ensures they won’t get away with it. It may not be necessary for low-level opportunities, but if you’re hoping to have a volunteer in a medical setting or handling finances, you want to rest assured they have the qualifications to do so.

7. Credit Checks

Looking into an applicant’s financial history can give you a complete picture of their stability and responsibility. Credit checks are primarily a means of limiting any potential liability for white-collar crimes like fraud or theft.

Should I Run Background Checks on Minor Volunteers?

Background checks for minor volunteers can be tricky. In general, any organization that performs background checks under a consistent program will do so on both adults and minors. However, getting the information you’re looking for may prove difficult.

For one thing, you will almost always have to get parental consent to perform the background check, as many states have ruled minors aren’t capable of providing consent themselves. Many parents are happy to consent, but some may give you a hard time or block some information. For example, juvenile detention centers in many states also require a parent’s permission to release information.

Minors are in a unique position where their records are not generally accessible to the public. Sometimes, the most information you can find will tell you there was a case, but there aren’t any details available. Running background checks on minors is a risk management strategy. Settings like summer camps, where minors will be in charge of younger children, often require background checks. If the minor in question will be handling sensitive information or finances, it may be a smart choice to do a background check.

Do Volunteers Need to Consent to Background Screening?

Yes. Failing to get consent before performing screenings is in direct violation of the FCRA. You must provide a volunteer background check consent form, get it signed, and be transparent about the information you collect, as well as how you’ll use it. You also need to follow what’s known as an “adverse reaction” process if the results of the background check lead to denial of the application. The preparation for the adverse reaction includes:

  • Notify the applicant orally or in writing that you are considering adverse action.
  • Give the applicant the name of the reporting agency from which you obtained the background check.
  • Inform the applicant they are within their rights to contact the agency and dispute information that’s inaccurate or incomplete.
  • Give the applicant a copy of their screening report and a copy of their rights under the FCRA.

Once you’ve done this, you can proceed with the adverse action and formally deny the applicant. You will have to disclose what you based the denial upon.

How Often Should I Perform Background Checks on Volunteers?

One crucial mistake volunteer leaders make is thinking background screenings are a one-and-done tool to use when recruiting. However, there are a few real-world situations in which it is prudent to re-screen volunteers.

1. Shifting Roles

A reliable volunteer will often prove themselves worthy of taking on more responsibilities as they learn and grow in your organization. But before giving them that coveted promotion, consider the new types of information they would have access to. If a step up in your organization entails access to sensitive data and proprietary information, a new background check is in order.

2. Re-Hiring Seasonal Volunteers

Many volunteers, especially students, volunteer seasonally. When volunteers are only around for a few weeks or months each year, you have no way of knowing what they get up to the rest of the year. Screenings should take place whenever a volunteer has been away for several months.

3. Every Two to Five Years

How often should a volunteer background check be run? Even when volunteers work with your organization consistently, running regular background checks is a practical cautionary matter. A lot can change in two or more years, and you may find some issues have cropped up from one check to the next. Your screening program should include guidelines on when each volunteer should receive their next background check.

Insights on Making Background Checks Easier

Learning how to screen volunteers effectively takes some practice. To get you on the right track, here are a few insights that may change the way you approach the volunteer screening process.

  • Social media is an increasingly valuable screening tool, with 12% of organizations checking volunteer applicants’ social media accounts.
  • A full 92% of volunteer organizations conduct criminal record checks.
  • Fully 73% of organizations use the sex offender search.
  • Only 41% use identity verification.
  • About half of organizations screen volunteers, no matter their position or longevity with the organization.
  • More than 53% of organizations use third-party screening sources, while almost 26% go to a government source.
  • Re-screening is on the rise, with a quarter of organizations regularly re-screening those who work with vulnerable populations.
  • Only 15% of organizations send the appropriate pre-adverse and adverse reaction notices to disqualified applicants, meaning they are out of compliance with the FCRA.

Background checks for nonprofit volunteers are an essential tool in keeping your organization and the populations you serve safe. Carving out some of the budget for these checks can prevent you from experiencing a costly incident you could have easily avoided with more thorough nonprofit volunteer screening.

Volunteer Management With Volgistics

As a volunteer leader, you have a lot on your plate. From the recruitment process to reporting, Volgistics is a volunteer management software that helps you do more for your teams and organizations. Volgistics covers every element of volunteer information, allowing you to organize for more powerful impacts. It offers volunteers the convenience of receiving schedules and checking in and out from an easy-to-use touchscreen kiosk.

Volgistics now also partners with Verified First to streamline your volunteer screening process. Since 2012, Verified First has been providing fast and accurate results along with competitive rates and outstanding customer service. Connecting Volgistics to Verified First through a simple browser extension allows you to send basic details about the volunteer to Verified First. Then, Verified First automatically contacts the volunteer for other needed information to complete the background screening, all without leaving Volgistics.

Volgistics has served thousands of organizations in every imaginable industry. If you would like to join the ranks of organizations that have revolutionized the way they manage volunteers, register for a live demonstration. A member of our support team will guide you through the system and provide insights on the features that best meet your needs.

You can also take Volgistics for a test drive by using a sample account, pre-loaded with data you can use to discover the benefits of the software. If you have any questions on how Volgistics can improve volunteer management, our dedicated support team is eager to address your inquiry.

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Prompt a Password Reset for System Operators

Tip of the Week August 26, 2019

Whether you’re assigning an operator a password that you want to make temporary, or your organization has security concerns and wants all users to update their login information, or you simply want to require specific users to update their credentials, it can be useful to prompt system operators to update their passwords the next time they login.

You can do this via the System Operator page. To require a system operator to set a new password upon their next login to the database, select Setup, choose System Operators, click on their name, and check the Operator must change their password when they login next checkbox. You can learn more about this feature in help topic 1011.

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How to Prevent Volunteer No-Shows

At one point or another, it’s bound to happen. Someone signs up for a volunteer slot, then doesn’t show up. In fact, it happens a lot for most charities. Putting a plan in place can save you and your organization a lot of frustration. Try our tips for reducing volunteer no-shows to make this inevitability a less worrisome part of your job.

Open Communication Channels to Discuss Scheduling Difficulties

Volunteers give their own time freely to your organization. When they commit to a slot, they have nothing riding on the outcome. They won’t get fired if they don’t show up. That kind of relationship can make addressing no-shows a tricky process.

You should offer empathy and compassion in every part of the communication process, and make it clear that you’d rather know in advance if someone has to cancel rather than having them not show up for a slot. Handling the issue with kind words and support encourages the person to treat you nicely in return. It also builds trust between you, which can help decrease no-shows in the future.

Offer a Way for Volunteers to Cancel Shifts

No-shows often occur because volunteers are uncertain how to cancel a shift that they’ve already committed to. They may feel bad for canceling or not know who to get in touch with to say they can’t make it.

You could designate someone to touch base with volunteers to confirm shifts, allowing them to cancel if needed. Better yet, automating the process of volunteer scheduling through volunteer management software like Volgistics permits your volunteer to opt out with little effort. They just need to log in to cancel.

Schedule More Volunteers or Staff

One way to combat no-shows is to ensure you have enough people available even if a few don’t show up. This plan may mean scheduling several volunteers for a shift or assigning someone from your charity staff to oversee a volunteer assignment. That person can fill in for missing volunteers.

Provide Reminders About Volunteer Shifts

No-shows can be the result of poor time management. The volunteer wants to help, but they forget to write down the date. Or they might scribble the wrong time in their calendar and arrive two hours after the event finishes. One way around this pesky issue is using a program that can send text message or email reminders about their shift. Schedule these reminders to go out at least 24 hours before the activity — they can serve as a subtle nudge to double-check a calendar.

Reach out After a No-Show

In some cases, no-shows occur as a result of a real emergency. Your volunteer may be too overwhelmed or embarrassed to contact you if this issue happens. Get in touch and warmly ask if they’re okay. This inquiry paves the way to re-engagement, especially for a high-quality volunteer you don’t want to lose.

If you use Volgistics, you can quickly find volunteers who may not have served as scheduled, then follow up with them by text or email.

You can lower the number of volunteer no-shows you experience by following the above tips. In addition, schedule a demo of Volgistics volunteer software management to see other ways it can help.

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Keep Report Columns All on One Page

Tip of the Week August 19, 2019

If you’ve created a custom report in PDF format, you may find instances where some columns of information extend beyond the width of the page causing them to appear on subsequent pages. If this is the case, you can sometimes make all the columns appear on one page by changing the report’s settings.  Here are some ideas on settings to change:

Options tab. If the report is organized by Site, Place & Assignment, consider organizing it differently. The Site, Place & Assignment option will create a separate column for each piece of information. Also, if the report has options for totals and/or to list volunteers, only check these if necessary.

Fields tab. Do not include any fields that are not absolutely necessary. Generally, each field selected will make a new column on the report. Also, be aware that there are multiple ways to display the same information. For example, a “Title First name Last name” field would contain the same information as selecting the “Title,” “First name,” and “Last name” fields separately. However, it would place all the information in one column instead of in three different columns.

Page Design tab. If the report has a Fit to page option, try checking this to see if more steps are necessary. If this does not work, try one or more of the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the margin width to permit your columns to extend closer to the edge of the page
  • Change the page orientation to landscape
  • Decrease the size of the font used in the body of the report.

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Volunteer Scheduling Tips

Improve the Volunteer Scheduling Process

Do you schedule volunteers for your organization? Then you know what a challenge it can be. You have to worry about your charity’s needs while also balancing the needs of your volunteers, and that harmony is not easy to find.

A little advance planning can make a huge difference. Use the following ways to schedule volunteers to get the most out of them.

Know How Much Help You Will Need in Advance

Before you can even start scheduling, you should have a clear idea of your needs. The last thing you want is people standing around during a volunteer shift because you don’t have enough for them to do — or, worse, getting overwhelmed because you didn’t schedule enough volunteers for a shift. Break down each job with a written description so your volunteers understand what is expected of them. This will also let volunteers determine if they feel comfortable doing a certain task.

Volgistics includes areas to describe the assignment, which you can make available to volunteers as clickable links on the schedule or an opportunity directory.

Schedule Shifts Mindfully

While you may be tempted to schedule longer shifts for your volunteers — it’s easier on a coordinator to have the same group — you need to think about their needs, too. For example, you may need shorter shifts if:

  • Volunteers perform strenuous tasks, such as lifting heavy objects
  • Your event happens in brutal weather conditions, such as extreme hot or cold
  • The event they help at is fun, such as a festival, and they want time to explore it

You can also offer both short and long shifts for the same period. For example, provide one four-hour slot and two two-hour slots for the same shift. You’ll quickly see what option people prefer and can schedule accordingly the next time.

Know the Responsibilities of Each Shift

Some tasks require people who have had specialized instruction. You don’t want to sign up someone who hasn’t gone through the training and who can’t complete the task. Consider what will have to be done at every shift, and come up with a list of people who are qualified to do it. Don’t let anyone else sign up for that time or place.

With Volgistics, each assignment includes schedule rules that only allow volunteers to schedule themselves if they meet criteria that you define.

Allow People to Schedule Their Own Shifts

This will save you a lot of time and also let volunteers pick the hours that best suit their schedules. Software like Volgistics makes a transition to a system like this easy, and you can even schedule emails and texts to remind people about their shifts.

Post the Shift Times for Easy Volunteer Access

You should have a place online where volunteers can check on the shift times. They may forget when they are scheduled or need to move times around if an issue arises. Having the content easily accessible will help them stay organized and increase the odds they do not miss a shift. You can do all this with Volgistics, too.

Keep in mind these volunteer scheduling best practices, and you will find your job goes more smoothly. Get started by scheduling a demo of our software or get in contact with us today.

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Print Service Report for a Single Archived Volunteer Record

Tip of the Week August 12, 2019

There may be times you want to print service reports for archived volunteer records. One way to do this is to create a custom Excel report that contains service information for all archived volunteers. Help topic 1997 shows how to do this.

Archived records also show automatically on Service Detail and Service Summary reports. However, if you want to run one of these reports for just one, or a few, archived records, you cannot use the tags feature to do this like you can with non-archived records. However, you could do this by using the Flags feature. Here is what you will need to do:

  1. Make a custom Flag such as “Archived (Include on Reports)”
  2. Add this Flag to the archived volunteer records you want included on the report.
  3. Run the Service Detail or Service Summary report you want. On the Include tab, choose “Any of these” under Flags and check the box for the Flag you created.

You can learn more about how to “Print a Report for a Single Archived Volunteer” in help topic 1120.

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Time Management Tips for Volunteer Managers

Time Management Advice for Volunteer Managers

Many nonprofits are small operations where employees wear many hats. You may have a lot of duties in addition to managing your volunteers. At times, this workload can feel overwhelming, but it’s possible to become more effective and improve your time management skills. We’ve put together a list detailing how volunteer managers save time, which should help you feel less overwhelmed and use every minute more wisely.

1. Stop Multitasking to Increase Productivity

Many busy people think that by doing lots of things at once, they’ll get more accomplished. In reality, multitasking is counterproductive (not to mention bad for your mental health). It makes it difficult to do anything well, and your attention gets split by too many distractions. Instead, focus on getting one thing done, and don’t move to the next item on your to-do list until you’ve completed that one thing. Then, jump down to the next item and so on. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you begin knocking tasks off the list.

2. Automate as Many Tasks as Possible

Are there things you do every day that you can use software or apps to do for you instead? For instance, if part of your job is updating the monthly volunteer schedule and sending out reminders for shifts, consider investing in volunteer management software like Volgistics, which can handle many of these tasks for you. Enabling volunteers to self-schedule and sending out automatic reminders are just a couple things good volunteer software can do. You can free up time this way, and you’ll also have a better way to track your volunteers.

3. Prioritize Your Tasks

Not every objective is created equal. You undoubtedly know that some tasks are more important than others, but are you approaching your job in a way that reflects such urgency? If the answer is no, try making a list of to-do’s that prioritize the most important items over the rest. By doing so, you remind yourself that you need to get the critical things done first, and you won’t get bogged down in a job that can wait until next week.

4. Track the Time It Takes You to Complete Weekly Duties

If you constantly feel as though you don’t have enough time, it may be that you’re not using the time efficiently. Tracking how much time you spend on each task gives you an idea of how you spread out your work. For example, you may find that you spent five hours on something that should only take two. If that’s the case, you can consider ways to complete the work more efficiently.

5. Turn off Email Notifications

You can spend the entire day reading and replying to emails if you don’t exercise caution. About 99 percent of emails can be dealt with at the beginning or end of the day. There’s no urgency to them. Turn off notifications so that you can concentrate fully on whatever you’re working on. Check your email first thing in the morning, at lunch and at the end of the day, and let your co-workers know of your plan so that they can get you if something needs attention right away.

With these ways to manage time for volunteer managers, you can become more productive. If you’d like to try out Volgistics for even more assistance, contact us today or schedule a demo.

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Set Schedule Calendar to Default to a Specific Date or Month

Tip of the Week August 05, 2019

If you’re using Volgistics for an event that will take place in the future, you may want to setup the schedule calendar to default to a specific date or month. This makes it easier to use because you will not need to change the view each time you access the schedule. If volunteers self-schedule through VicNet or VicTouch, this updates their schedule default as well.

You can set this up on the Scheduling Ground Rules page by:

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Expand the Scheduling link.
  3. Select Ground rules.

The default settings are under the Additional options heading. Remember to click the Save button after changes are made.

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Top Reasons That Volunteers Quit

Is there a reason you’re losing volunteers? If you’ve noticed that people aren’t coming back, you may wonder if the exits reflect on your nonprofit. Sometimes you can address the reasons volunteers quit at an organizational level, and sometimes they’re personal issues you cannot resolve. Here are five of the top reasons good volunteers leave — along with some solutions you can use to help keep them around.

1. Lack of Time

There are only so many hours in the day, and between work, family, school, and other commitments, everyone stays busy. The most common reason volunteers stop working with you is simply lack of time. They may want to help, but they have to choose between coming to one of your events or visiting a parent in an assisted living facility. Rightly, the parent will win every time.

The solution: Offer shorter shifts for volunteers. Almost anyone can fit a half hour to an hour session into their schedule.

How Volgistics can help: Create a series of short schedule openings, and allow volunteers to schedule themselves. They’ll be able to pick up one or more in a row, depending on how much time they have.

2. Confusion Over Volunteer Duties

No one likes to feel as though they’re doing a poor job. When volunteers do not receive enough guidance or feedback, they can get frustrated. They don’t understand what to do, and they may not want to come back because of it.

The solution: Provide a written summary of duties expected from a volunteer position, and meet with the volunteer before they begin to make sure they understand what’s expected of them.

How Volgistics can help: Add details about each assignment in Volgistics. Volunteers can access it through clickable links on the schedule or your Opportunity Directory. You can use the checklist to ensure volunteers see a description as part of the on-boarding process.

3. Insufficient Organizational Support

When something goes wrong, a volunteer wants to know they can bring the problem to you and receive support and guidance. If they instead get someone pointing the finger at them, they’ll no longer want to spend their free time with your organization.

The solution: Welcome feedback and suggestions from your volunteer crew. Implement their good ideas, and tell people where the new adjustments came from. Show compassion when volunteers run into problems.

4. Missing Public Kudos

Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated. When employees are not shown the proper appreciation, they can become disengaged. The same is true for volunteers. This feeling may prompt them to leave you.

The solution: Tell people how much you appreciate their efforts. Better yet, show them. Buy them a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop, or write them a heartfelt thank you note. By acknowledging their contributions to the company, you show them how much you value their contributions and how critical they are to the organization.

How Volgistics can help: Send out personalized email messages to your volunteers, or show a custom greeting card when they sign in at VicTouch. You can also establish awards for volunteer milestones.

5. Burnout

If your nonprofit demands a lot from its volunteers, they may complain of burnout, which could lead them to quit. Dealing with highly emotional topics can take a toll on volunteers. Likewise, if they start by coming in 10 hours a week, they may find that it’s too much. Instead of pulling back, they could choose to leave altogether.

The solution: Look for signs of burnout in your volunteers — such as canceling shifts or appearing listless — and address them head-on. Ask if they need a break or could use assistance. Even just listening to them talk can encourage them to stay.

How Volgistics can help: Use the checklist feature to remind you to check in with volunteers regularly, and keep track of when you’ve done so.

By instituting solutions to common issues for volunteers, you can reduce your turnover rate. You may also want to check out opportunities for automating tasks for volunteers, such as scheduling, by using Volgistics software. Contact us today or schedule a demo to learn more.

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Use the Find Fields, and the Advanced Options, to Locate Volunteer Records

Tip of the Week July 29, 2019

When you’re searching for specific groups of volunteer records, the Basic options on the Volunteers page provide a powerful search tool. For example, to locate just Active Adult volunteers, select “Active” from the Status dropdown and “Adult” from the Type dropdown, and then click the “All” link.

However, there are more features available to assist you in locating volunteer records. There are Find fields on the Volunteers page that can be used to search for records based on the first name, last name, number, email address, or group name on the record.  The Find fields also include a wild card character that can be entered for a wider search.

There are also Advanced options that allow you to fine tune your search.  For example, you can choose to include or exclude multiple Statuses, Types, Flags, or other conditions. The Advanced options also allow you to search for archived volunteer records. To do this, check the “Archived volunteers” box before you click the “All” or letter links.

Help topic 2023 explains more about the tools available for looking for volunteer records.

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