Keep Your Account’s Billing Procedures Accessible and Ready

Tip of the Week October 07, 2019

As renewal dates approach and/or administrative personnel change, it can be important to make sure that there are authorized staff handling the billing for your Volgistics account and that they are able to access the Store, receive billing notifications, and know how and when to plan future payments. Here are a few billing-related tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure the billing contact is up-to-date. Advance billing notices, billing confirmations, and other automated billing messages will be sent to the billing contact email address you set. Help topic 1019 explains more.
  2. Make sure the billing contact can access the Store. You can do this by making an administrator the billing contact, or providing the billing contact with your Accounting Access Code. Help topic 2143 explains more.
  3. Volgistics doesn’t generate order-invoices automatically. However, an authorized administrator or accounting operator for Volgistics account can create one at any time. Help topic 2071 explains more.
  4. Volgistics will never adjust your service level automatically. Creating and paying an invoice for a different service level will not cause it to change. You’ll need to update your service level manually. Help topic 2166 explains more.
  5. Volgistics doesn’t accept purchase orders as a form of payment. But if you need to generate one for your internal payment processing requirements, you can still attach it to your invoice. Help topic 2545 explains more.
  6. Volgistics payments can be mailed to our physical or remittance address. If you plan on using a courier service to send a payment urgently, be sure to use our physical address. Help topic 2304 explains more.
  7. If your payment does not arrive by the date your account is due, your account won’t be deleted or become inaccessible right away. Instead, it will be placed on a 30-day ‘Hold’ status. While on hold you will still be able to access the account, but it will be on a more limited basis than usual. Volunteer features such as forms and modules will continue to operate normally and volunteers won’t see any change. However, operators will be unable to add new volunteer records or print most reports until payment is received. An expired Volgistics account will only be deleted if no payment is posted for it within 60 days of its ‘Paid through’ date. Our Terms of Service explain more.

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Use the Contacts Tab to Record Secondary Contacts for Group Records

Tip of the Week September 30, 2019

If your organization uses group records, you can record the main contact’s name, address, phone number, and email on the Core tab of the group record. However, there may be times when you need to record additional contacts. In this case, you can create a new contact Kind and track these additional contacts on the Contacts tab of the group’s record.

You will not be able to send email messages from Volgistics directly to these contacts. However, you could create custom Address Label Reports with the addresses of the additional contacts for your group records. The contact information could also be included in reports such as the Volunteer Contacts List so the information can be exported from the system.

You can find directions on how to create additional group contact records in help topic 1990.

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Include Volunteer Names on ‘Child’ Records in Excel Reports

Tip of the Week September 23, 2019

In databases, a ‘child’ record is a piece of information that relates back to one particular record.

Because Excel Spreadsheet reports are designed to be able to contain a very large amount of detailed volunteer information such as service entries and checklist dates, it is necessary to create different worksheets within the Excel workbook to hold all of this information. Help topic 2165 explains more about how this works. By default, these ‘child’ records relate back to the ‘parent’ record using the volunteer number.

However, if this is confusing, you can change the report to use the volunteer’s name in place of the volunteer number. To do this, select “Include volunteer names in ‘child’ records” on the Options tab when you create the Excel report.

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Recruit Senior Citizen Volunteers

Recruiting older volunteers offers an excellent way to bring people who have top-notch skills and outstanding experience to your organization. People over age 65 are often retired and have lots of spare time to donate to a great cause. Connecting with this group can happen easily if you follow our volunteer recruiting tips for baby boomers.

Use Your Existing Network to Find the Right Additions to Your Team

Everyone knows people over the age of 65. Put the word out that your organization would like to recruit older volunteers. Tell your current volunteers, and give them business cards to pass on to their parents, grandparents, and neighbors. Ask your own older relatives for recommendations of where to go to find potential volunteers.

Visit Places Seniors Frequent

Senior centers, churches, and senior living facilities all offer excellent chances to connect with seniors. Set up a meeting through whoever is in charge. Ask them to advertise the meeting as a chance to learn more about volunteer opportunities. You may want to arrange for one of the seniors who already volunteers with you to accompany you to the meeting. They can answer questions about the tasks they perform for you and the environment of your nonprofit.

Connect With People Online

When organizations look for ways to recruit senior volunteers, one often-overlooked option is the internet. Seniors are frequent users of social media, and you can connect with them on Facebook to discuss volunteering. Post ads targeting those over 65, or join groups that appeal to older users.

Tailor Volunteer Jobs to Your Audience

Retired people can bring a great deal of knowledge to your nonprofit. Take advantage of their experience to make your organization even stronger. Ask every senior volunteer you recruit what they did for a living and what types of special talents they have. You may discover something unexpected, such as a fluency in Japanese or a gift for carving wood. You can make jobs specifically to play to those unique skills.

Too many people write off retirees and seniors simply because they’re older. That’s a mistake. Ask these individuals what types of jobs they want to perform instead of assigning them the simplest tasks — their ambition may surprise and delight you.

Accommodate Physical Limitations

Some, though not all, seniors may have physical limitations. Many of these issues come with age, but they don’t prevent someone from being an effective and enthusiastic volunteer. Discuss any accommodations that must be made up front so that you all know what the situation is. Check in periodically to ensure that nothing has changed and that your volunteer continues to feel comfortable with your arrangement. Offer any adjustments you can to make their job more pleasant.

Now that you know how to recruit senior volunteers, put your plan into action using these tactics to start. One other thing you might like to try out is the volunteer management software from Volgistics, which can help you schedule volunteers and set up remindersContact us to schedule a free demo.

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Track Assignments Automatically

Tip of the Week September 16, 2019

In Volgistics, a volunteer’s Role in an assignment shows their relationship to the assignment. For example, a Role of Assigned means that the volunteer is actively serving while a Role of Substitute might mean the volunteer is available to fill in for other volunteers in that assignment. The volunteer’s Service tab shows the Role they have in assignments.

You can optionally set up the system to automatically add the Role of Assigned to a volunteer’s record whenever the volunteer is scheduled or receives service in an assignment. To do this:

  1. Select Setup from the menu.
  2. Expand the Assignment tracking link.
  3. Select Ground rules.
  4. Check the box by Record assignments automatically.
  5. Click the Save button to keep your selections.

Help topic 2265 explains more about the settings for automatic assignment tracking.

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How to Recruit and Engage Youth Volunteers

Youth volunteers bring vitality and excitement to a nonprofit. Their energy can give your full-time staff a boost, and their interest in your cause could help sustain your organization for years to come. But how do you reach out to local youth? Use these creative strategies to engage young volunteers and encourage them to assist you.

Keep Track of Hours With Flair

Many teens have to log a certain number of service hours to graduate from high school or earn honors. They’ll need to track their hours to ensure they hit the magic number. Make this process into a celebration by posting a colorful chart on the wall where they can record their volunteer time. Offer funny bonuses to the people who lead the time, such as a gold hat or shirt they can wear during volunteer shifts.

Encourage Teens to Bring a Friend

One basic way to engage youth volunteers is to remember that kids are social. Ask them to bring a friend the next time they volunteer. You can even make it into a competition, seeing who can recruit the most friends over a one-month period.

Reach out to Church Youth Groups

Many youth groups undertake service projects. Connect with clubs in your area to get assistance with large tasks that require a lot of manpower. Many churches can supply dozens of teens at a time, so make sure you have enough supervision to look after everyone.

Give the Volunteers Fun Swag

Teens love little extras they can get from giving time to a great cause. Buying them matching T-shirts to wear during an all-day event, for example, is a great way to reward them while also letting people know they’re part of your organization. Other fun opportunities for swag include giving volunteers at a 5K free water bottles or handing everyone who sorts your donations a free pen.

Connect With Teens on Social Media

No list of tips on recruiting youth volunteers would be complete without mentioning social media. Kids communicate through these channels every day, and reaching out to them there is a fantastic way to make connections. With their permission, tag your volunteers in posts about what they’ve done for your group, and encourage them to share. Their friends will see what they did and may come knocking at your door to volunteer as well.

Use Online Platforms to Schedule Shifts

Kids rely on their phones to set their schedules. Allowing them to sign up for shifts online and sending them text messages to remind them of their commitments is a must for any volunteer group working with teens. Use volunteer management software such as Volgistics — you can contact us to set up a free demo.

Use this list of best practices to engage young volunteers to help your organization with retention and recruitment. If you get young people interested now, they’ll want to continue with your organization, giving you a rich and experienced pool of volunteers for years to come.

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Limit the Rights or Access to Volgistics for Specific System Operators

Tip of the Week September 02, 2019

If a Volgistics Account will utilize the services of system operators other than just the account’s Administrator(s), it may be important to define specific limits of the rights or access for those users. This way they aren’t able to, or don’t have to, manage more settings than exceeds their intended function in your organization. There are two primary ways to do this: via their system operator page, and by customizing access for entire user levels—that is, ‘Power Users’ and ‘Basic Users’.

The system operator page allows you to assign an operator a Site Level Access restriction, to set their user level, to limit their access to Volgistics to just specific host IP addresses, to customize which menu items they have access to, and to customize which specific tasks they can perform. Controlling rights and access for entire user levels allows you to set tab rights and field rights which will apply to all system operators with the corresponding user level. You can learn more about limiting rights or access for specific System Operators in help topic 2028.

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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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