Tip of the Week November 19, 2018

Create a Set to find small or large service entries.

At times you may get abnormal service entries that have been created. For example, if you use the VicTouch module, sometimes a volunteer will sign-in for an assignment, re- enter their PIN number to check the schedule, and then click the “Sign-out” button out of habit. This creates a very small service entry such as 1-3 minutes. Or, if volunteers enter their own service with the VicNet module, they may mistakenly enter a very small (or very large) number of service hours. One way to catch these would be to audit the service entries made through VicNet.

But if the service entries have already been made, another way to find the outliers is to use a Set. The “Their Service” Set rule has an option for “They have at least one service record with.” This option allows you to enter a hour limit and then search for service records that are “At least” or “Fewer than” the limit during a certain time frame. An example of how this could be used would be to find all volunteer records that have at least one service entry smaller than 10 minutes in any month of 2018. Another example would be to find all volunteer records that have at least one service entry larger than 12 hours in any month in 2018.

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Tip of the Week November 12, 2018

Create an automatic report that shows volunteers due for a Checklist item.

Volgistics includes a Checklist feature to help you track things such as orientations, flu shots, and background checks. You can use the Tickler feature in Volgistics to find volunteers who are due for a Checklist item. But you could also create an automatic monthly report showing volunteers who are due.

To do this, the first step would be to create a Set to identify the volunteers who are due for a Checklist Item. Help topic 2181 has general guidelines on making a Set if you’re unfamiliar with this. Your Set will use the “Their Checklist” Set rule. Since it will be part of an automatic report, you won’t be able to use the option that lists the month’s name. Instead you should use the “Due now” or “Due in the next 30 days” options.

Once the Set has been created, make a custom report that will show the information you need. Select the name of the Set on the Include page of the report to limit the report to just volunteers in the Set. Then use the settings on the Save page to make it an automatic report.

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Tip of the Week November 05, 2018

Search for a specific item in your account’s Event Log or a volunteer’s Notes tab.

Each Volgistics account has an Event Log that records key events. Even though every event in your account is not tracked due to size limitations, the Event Log can still become quite long. This can make it hard to find one specific item.

The same problem may occur on the Notes tab of volunteer records. There is not a way to locate specific text on the Notes tab and it may be difficult to find what you need if a lot of information has been recorded.

One way to address this is to use your web browser’s Find feature to locate the item you’re looking for. To do this, identify a unique key word or phrase to look for such as an event that is recorded, the name of a volunteer record, or the type of note you need. Then, bring up your account’s Event Log or the Notes tab. Use your web browser’s Find feature to look for the phrase you identified. You can bring up the Find feature from the web browser’s menu, or by using the “CTRL” plus “F” keyboard combination.

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Tip of the Week October 29, 2018

Spread holiday cheer with the VicTouch Greeting Cards feature.

If your organization uses the VicTouch module, you can create holiday cards that will be displayed when volunteers sign-in. The setup options allow you to customize a heading and message, and choose a date range for when the cards will be shown. You can use the graphics that are included, or upload a unique image for your organization. Images can be in GIF, JPG or PNG file formats and must be under 48 Kb in size.

You can setup two different holiday cards at a time with different date ranges selected for delivery. The holiday cards can be changed during the year to send greetings for all of the holidays your organization wants to acknowledge. The Greeting Cards feature also allows you to setup birthday and start date anniversary cards that will automatically be shown to volunteers when their special day arrives.

Help topic 2326 has more information on the Greeting Cards feature. See help topic 2327 for instructions on how to setup your account’s VicTouch greeting cards.

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Benefits of Volunteer Management Software

Benefits of Volunteer Management Software

Many nonprofit organizations are run almost entirely by volunteers. For example, 90 percent of American Red Cross humanitarian tasks are carried out by volunteers. Red Cross and Red Crescent have over 97 million volunteers worldwide. How do large organizations like the Red Cross manage their volunteer data? It is unlikely they keep track of volunteer performance in paper logs when technological tools are available. For most nonprofits, it would be unwise not to use technology to their advantage.

Technology has changed our lives in every aspect, from how we communicate to how we learn. Charitable organizations can use technology such as volunteer management software to keep track of volunteers easily. The right software saves time, money, and effort, so volunteer managers and volunteers have more room in their schedules to do what they love most — helping others.

In this post, we will look at all the reasons nonprofits can benefit from volunteer management software. As you will see, technology improves volunteer management in far more ways than one. Before we get started, let’s cover what volunteer management software is.

What is Volunteer Management Software?

What is volunteer management software? Volunteer management software is an easy-to-use online tool. Volunteer leaders can use software to keep track of volunteer data such as contact information, hours served, schedule changes, applications, and much more.

Volunteer management software is an easy-to-use online tool. Volunteer leaders can use this software to keep track of volunteer data such as contact information, hours served, schedule changes, applications, and much more. Many software programs feature texting and emailing capabilities with automated notification options to help volunteer managers save time, stay organized, and effortlessly keep in touch with all volunteers. With so many volunteers using technology to find opportunities, volunteer management software is a must-have for organizations that want to stay current and reach a vast audience.

Reasons to Use Volunteer Management Software

Reasons to use volunteer management software. The reasons to use volunteer management software seem endless, especially in today's world where most people connect to the internet every day.

The reasons to use volunteer management software seem endless, especially in today’s world where most people connect to the internet every day. Technology has become a vital part of everyday life. Volunteers expect organizations to not only be present online but also to offer ways to communicate and participate online. Volunteer management software provides the tools managers need to impact as many individuals as possible. Let’s explore more reasons to close the spreadsheet tab and sign up for volunteer management software right away.

How Volunteer Management Software Improves Volunteer Recruiting

How Volunteer Management Software Improves Volunteer Recruiting. Things are not like they used to be. Individuals no longer hunt for opportunities in newspapers or on bulletin boards.

Things are not like they used to be. Individuals no longer hunt for opportunities in newspapers or on bulletin boards. Although print resources can still help spread the word, organizations need to focus on digital methods to recruit volunteers. They also need to make recruitment as convenient as possible.

The majority of Americans find news, communicate, and share stories using technology whether it be through texting, emailing, social media, or browsing the internet. You want to make sure individuals can easily find your organization’s volunteering opportunities. It should also be quick and simple for volunteers to apply for an opening and share opportunities with others who may be interested. Volunteer management software allows you to either link application forms to your website or embed them so they appear as part of the page. This allows prospective volunteers to easily locate and submit an application in minutes. They can also share your advertisement via social media, increasing your reach.

If you are concerned older volunteers will not get online to apply, have no fear. Older generations also use technology in high numbers. Consider these statistics from Pew Research Center:

  • Ninety-two percent of Millennials own a smartphone.
  • Eighty-five percent of Gen Xers and 67 percent of Baby Boomers also own smartphones.
  • Eighty-five percent of Millennials say they use social media.

Other Pew research found:

  • Seventy-seven percent of Americans go online daily.
  • Twenty-six percent go online almost constantly.
  • Forty-three percent go online several times a day.

As you can see, the majority of American adults frequently use the internet. It’s essential that your organization is digitally available to meet the needs and wants of volunteers. Volunteers are more likely to respond to organizations that reach out to them and make recruitment simple. Here are more reasons volunteer management software improves recruitment:

  • Improves your image: Individuals are more willing to volunteer for an organization that seems worthwhile. When you integrate volunteer management software into your organization’s website, volunteers will see you are serious about your mission, you are organized, and you value your volunteers’ time because you want to make the process convenient for them.
  • Enables you to reach thousands in seconds: Technology is marvelous at reaching many people simultaneously. Instead of spending hours hanging up flyers or mailing brochures, you can easily reach prospective and current volunteers with a notification to alert them of openings.
  • Increases visibility: According to a 2016 Pew survey, 62 percent, or the majority of American adults, get news on social media. You too can use social media to your advantage. When you announce volunteer opportunities or events via social media platforms, you can spread the news quickly. Volunteers can follow your online campaign all the way to the application form, thanks to volunteer management software.
  • Targets the right audience: When you have easy access to volunteer demographics, you can develop campaigns to target the right audience. With volunteer management software, volunteers get to create their own profiles. You can use profiles to gain insight for building a successful campaign. Also, some software allows you to tag and classify volunteers based on age, interests, skills, and other pertinent info so you can quickly filter volunteers.
  • Makes your organization easy to find: People use the internet for everything, from ordering takeout to booking vacations. In 2015, Pew found that 79 percent of Americans used online resources to find jobs in the past two years while only 32 percent used ads in print publications. Many people will start their search for volunteer opportunities online, and you need to make it simple for them to find you and apply. With volunteer management software, they can search for opportunities based on their skills and interests, making recruitment easier, more personalized, and more convenient.

Improves your image, enables you to reach thousands in seconds, increases visibility, targets the right audience, makes your organization easy to find

Overall, your organization can use volunteer management software in any way you wish to recruit more volunteers and share your mission. You’ll certainly reach more individuals than organizations that do not embrace technology.

How Volunteer Management Software Helps With Volunteer Retention

How volunteer management software helps with volunteer retention. Although millions of Americans volunteer, many organizations struggle to keep volunteers, which can hinder progress. Fortunately, volunteer management software can help organizations retain volunteers in countless ways.

Although millions of Americans volunteer, many organizations struggle to keep volunteers, which can hinder progress. Fortunately, volunteer management software can help organizations retain volunteers in countless ways.

First, let’s consider why individuals choose not to volunteer. Here are a few reasons according to a 2009 Fidelity Charitable survey:

  • They have no time.
  • They feel pressured to give more time than they want to.
  • They cannot find the right organization to match their cause.
  • They had a bad experience volunteering in the past.

Keeping these insights in mind, here’s how you can use volunteer management software to help with volunteer retention:

  • Engage volunteers: Volunteers want to feel valued, engaged, and part of a team. Volunteer management software creates a space for volunteers to provide feedback, update their profiles, and choose assignments they prefer. When they feel like they are heard and are making a difference, they are more likely to stick around.
  • Make it easy to help: Volunteer management software makes the whole process easier from the application stage to the moment volunteers discontinue service. Users can easily sign in on-site, check their schedules from their phones, look at updates anywhere, and much more.
  • Show appreciation: If volunteers feel taken for granted, it is highly likely they will quit. Volunteer management software makes it easy to frequently show volunteers you care about them and appreciate them, even if your organization has hundreds or even thousands of volunteers. For example, if you want to send a birthday card to every volunteer, you can set up automatic birthday messages, so no one ever feels forgotten.
  • Find the right fit: If an assignment is too demanding or requires too much time, volunteers will move on to other nonprofits. However, volunteer management software helps prevent volunteer dissatisfaction, frustration, and burnout. You and your volunteers can use the software to find opportunities which match their skills and interests easily.
  • Send thank-you notes: Sometimes, all a volunteer needs to hear is a simple thank-you. Nevertheless, it can be time-consuming to thank every volunteer on your team regularly. Volunteer management software allows you to send out thank-you notes so you can frequently express your gratitude without spending too much time.
  • Promote future opportunities: You can retain volunteers you trust and love by using software to promote future opportunities. For example, if an assignment is coming to an end, you can notify volunteers and send new opportunities their way with just a few clicks.
  • Keep in touch: After a volunteer leaves, you should still keep in touch, because you never know what opportunities might appeal to them in the future. Also, you want them to think of your organization when their schedule opens up. You can send opportunity notifications, or you can send manual messages to connect with volunteers on a more personal level. Either way, focus on building positive relationships to keep volunteers coming back.
  • Show their impact: Volunteers want to see the results of their contributions. Improve volunteer retention by recognizing them for their accomplishments. Use volunteer management software to keep volunteers updated on the organization’s progress, so they will always feel like part of the team.

Engage volunteers, make it easy to help, show appreciation, find the right fit, send thank-you notes, promote future opportunities, keep in touch, show their impact

How Volunteer Management Software Improves Communication

Communication can become tedious when information is disorganized. How can you know how long a volunteer served your organization if you can’t find their info? How can you remember dozens of volunteers’ interests and qualifications? With volunteer management software, there is no need to stress about remembering the details. The next time you meet with a volunteer, you can thank them for helping you for two years, for example, or ask them how their cat is doing. Volunteer management software makes it possible to be a friend to all volunteers. Here are a few more ways volunteer management software improves communication:

  • You can send messages to thousands: With volunteer management software, you can contact the volunteers in your database in just a few keystrokes without needing to go through a time-consuming selection process. So, when there is a cancellation or change, you can notify all volunteers in a matter of seconds.
  • Texting keeps volunteers engaged: Volunteer management software allows you to send automated or manual texts to volunteers so they can participate and contribute even when they are on the go or off an assignment.
  • Volunteers can access info anywhere: Unlike the old days when people had to call their manager or drive to the worksite to look at their schedule, technology has made it possible to view schedules anywhere. Volunteers can access everything they need to know about their assignment on their phone or computer to prevent confusion and inconvenience. Many volunteers visit nonprofit websites through mobile devices. For example, according to the 2018 M+R Benchmarks study, mobile traffic for nonprofits increased by nine percent and accounted for 40 percent of nonprofit website visitors in 2017.
  • Volunteers get to use a channel they prefer: Some individuals prefer to keep their volunteer profiles and schedules separate from other day-to-day matters. Volunteer management software helps volunteers stay organized and in control of their volunteer work. Also, they know exactly where to go when it’s time to read a volunteer-related message or look for new opportunities, without having to weed through personal emails or social media messages. They’ll also know where they can reach you and other volunteers to help build strong relationships.

How Volunteer Management Software Impacts Scheduling

How volunteer management software impacts scheduling. Volunteer management software makes scheduling a headache-free task. Volunteers can choose their own shifts, view and print schedules, fill in vacancies, and cancel days they are no longer available.

Volunteer management software makes scheduling a headache-free task. Volunteers can choose their own shifts, view and print schedules, fill in vacancies, and cancel days they are no longer available. Most volunteers appreciate this level of flexibility. As mentioned above, many people choose not to volunteer because they say they don’t have time. Volunteer management software allows busy individuals to find a slot they can work with. Also, you’ll enjoy less stress as a volunteer manager. Online scheduling makes everyone happy.

How Volunteer Management Software Saves Time

By now, you can probably imagine how online management tools can help you save significant amounts of time. For example, when it’s time to print data reports, you’ll know exactly where to look for volunteer information. Also, volunteers can access their own data easily instead of needing to ask you for the information. Here are more reasons volunteer management software saves time:

  • It allows users to enter their own data and make updates, so staff does not have to spend hours or their time dedicated to data entry.
  • You’ll spend less time organizing and accessing data.
  • It makes assigning tasks easier and less time-consuming.
  • You can save time by using automated features.

When you save time, you also reduce stress for everyone in the organization, creating a happier environment all-around. When volunteers are happy, they stay.

How Volunteer Management Software Helps Raise Funds

How volunteer management software helps raise funds. Donors like to know exactly where their money is going. Volunteer management software is a tool to make your organization more transparent for donors.

Donors like to know exactly where their money is going. Volunteer management software is a tool to make your organization more transparent for donors. With the ability to track detailed records of every volunteer, from hours served to tasks completed, you can prove to donors that volunteers are making the most of the available resources.

Volunteer management software can also help you attract online donations. Many nonprofits are using digital channels to reach donors and obtain funding. With the help of social media, total online revenue grew by 23 percent in 2017 for nonprofits. Volunteer management software can help you grab donors’ attention by providing the data they need to see. Show your audience exactly how many hours volunteers served, how many people they helped, and other relevant facts. All this information is at your fingertips with management software, to save you time and keep information up-to-date when you need to reach donors.

Lastly, volunteer management software encourages volunteers to convert to donors. Volunteers are passionate individuals who love to help make the world better, not just by contributing their time and talents, but also with donations. For example, a 2014 Fidelity Charitable survey found that half of the survey respondents say volunteering leads them to give more financial support. Donors are also likely to be volunteers. According to the same survey, nearly four in five donors volunteered for a charitable organization in the past 12 months. You should treat volunteers like donors from the start.

Learn More About Volgistics Today

Integrating technology into your organization is essential if you want to recruit and retain as many volunteers as possible. It’s also a necessary organizational tool. As discussed, the majority of Americans use technology every day, and you do not want your organization to get left behind. The easier you make it for prospective and current volunteers to find you, sign-up, and spread the news, the brighter the future will be for your nonprofit. Overall, technology can help your organization flourish.

Learn more about Volgistics today. Volunteer scheduling; volunteer tracking; volunteer reporting; volunteer application forms; volunteer portal; text and email capabilities; customization options.

If you are a volunteer manager interested in adopting easy-to-use, comprehensive volunteer management software, try Volgistics. Volgistics is volunteer management software designed to increase management efficiency. Volgistics offers everything you need to keep volunteers engaged and data organized. Some core Volgistics features include:

  • Volunteer scheduling: Easily keep track of schedules, allow volunteers to sign up for open shifts from anywhere, print schedules, and more.
  • Volunteer tracking: Technology has made a powerful impact on tracking volunteers. With Volgistics, you can organize volunteer information with tabs, quickly find info with search tools, and assign volunteers flags to help you filter volunteers for the right assignment.
  • Volunteer reporting: Quickly generate PDF or spreadsheet reports, and make custom reports when it’s time to impress donors.
  • Volunteer application forms: Simplify the screening process with application forms that allow volunteers to submit their information online.
  • Volunteer portal: The optional, online volunteer portal, VicNet, gives volunteers control of their assignments. With VicNet, volunteers can update their contact information, check and print their schedules, sign up for openings, and much more, saving you time and giving them flexibility.
  • Text and email capabilities: Communicate with volunteers wherever they are through text or email. You can send custom messages to let volunteers know you appreciate them in your own words or quickly text those involved to notify them of last minute location changes.
  • Customization options: If there’s something your organization needs, you can customize nearly any Volgistics feature such as schedules, reports, and application forms. Link Volgistics forms right to your website to make it easy for volunteers to apply, review opportunities, and use VicNet. Share your site on social media and watch the news diffuse.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of Volgistics volunteer management software, the Volgistics team is ready to answer all of your questions. Watch a live demo, start your free trial, or contact us today!

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Tip of the Week October 22, 2018

Use Volgistics’ Holidays feature to remove volunteers from the schedule on days your organization will be closed.

If your organization closes or just keeps minimal staff on certain dates you can add the date as a holiday in your account. This will automatically remove all regularly scheduled volunteers from the schedule for the date you list as the holiday. If volunteers are needed on the holiday, you can schedule them for a single day without filling an opening, or create a “one day only” (as opposed to an “ongoing”) opening on that date. Help topic 2158 tells more about how to make openings.

You can learn how to setup the holiday dates for your account in help topic 1022. Each year you will need to add the holidays your organization will be observing, or edit the previous entries to show the correct date for the current year.

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Guide to Volunteer Retention

Guide to Volunteer Retention

Volunteers are extraordinary individuals and vital members of a community. Every year, millions of volunteers contribute their time, energy, and skills to helping others. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24. 9% of Americans volunteered in 2015, contributing an estimated value of $184 billion. Without volunteers, many organizations would not be able to reach their goals. Some organizations would not exist at all. Volunteers help organizations stretch their budgets to meet the needs of a community.

Unfortunately, the volunteer rate has decreased almost 2% from 2011 to 2015. When a valuable volunteer quits, they leave behind a void that can be hard to fill. Organizations can significantly benefit from using volunteer best practices to retain volunteers and attract new ones.

Volunteer Retention Tips

If you’re a volunteer manager, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of volunteer loss, and you might be wondering how to retain volunteers with the resources you have. Don’t lose hope – there are plenty of easy, inexpensive ways to retain volunteers. Sometimes, simply thanking volunteers regularly is enough to improve volunteer retention. With the following tips, you’ll learn a variety of volunteer retention strategies to keep volunteers coming back.

1. Make a Good First Impression

Making a good first impression is critical when recruiting and retaining volunteers. If a volunteer does not understand what you expect of them, or if they do not feel welcome from the get-go, it is unlikely they will return. You want volunteers to feel confident they can contribute to your mission and be part of a team from the beginning. You also want volunteers to feel appreciated for considering your organization as soon as you meet. The moment a volunteer feels uncomfortable or unwelcome is the moment they decide to leave.

Making a good first impression is critical when recruiting and retaining volunteers.

To make a good impression that will stick with volunteers throughout their service, keep these tips in mind:

  • Clearly define their responsibilities: If a volunteer has a clear understanding of their assignment, they are more likely to do a better job and feel satisfied. When they get satisfaction from their service, they are more likely to stay. Clearly communicate the specific purpose of their position and discuss their primary duties. Don’t forget to include essential details like worksite location, supervisor name, number of hours per week, benefits they will receive, and resources provided. You might give a brochure or packet so they can remember everything you discussed. Once they see you are prepared to receive their help, they will feel confident about their decision to join your mission.
  • Listen more than you talk: People are motivated to volunteer for many different reasons. Some individuals volunteer to learn a new skill, while others do it to help their community. Regardless of their motivations, make volunteers feel like their efforts will be worthwhile by listening to them, acknowledging their needs, asking questions, and showing how you can help them reach their personal goals. They will immediately feel appreciated and happy to contribute their time to an organization who values them as an individual.
  • Be a connector: Some volunteers will be interested in using your organization to explore their career interests or gain job training. Try to connect volunteers to staff members or others who can help them grow professionally as soon as possible. They will remember how you helped them, and they will be glad they volunteered for your organization rather than a different one.
  • Consider your body language: You want volunteers to feel welcome, so it’s important to pay special attention to your body language. For example, you can express openness by allowing your arms to relax at your sides. Avoid placing your hands in your pockets or crossing your arms as that signals defensiveness. Sit with a straight posture and maintain good eye contact to show you are listening and are genuinely interested in your volunteer.

Follow the above tips to make an excellent first impression, and you’ll be hard to forget when volunteers think about quitting or looking elsewhere.

2. Give Volunteers What They Need

Although many volunteers contribute their time and energy to help a good cause, some volunteers need to fill requirements for school. Others choose to volunteer to network with like-minded professionals. For example, according to a Fidelity Charitable survey, 22% of survey respondents are motivated to volunteer for networking purposes.

Twenty-two percent of survey respondents are motivated to volunteer for networking purposes

Volunteers are valuable nonetheless, and you want to keep them as long as you can. For this reason, assure volunteers from the beginning that you want to help them succeed. Consider offering volunteers the following:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Job training
  • Networking opportunities
  • Educational opportunities
  • Skills development

When volunteers receive the resources they need to improve their lives, they will feel good about staying with your organization and proud to help. They will always remember how you helped them progress, and they’ll be happy to recommend your organization to others interested in volunteer work.

3. Make It Easy

Make it easy. Provide proper training and make it easy for volunteers to help, and they will keep coming back.

New volunteers might feel hesitant to join your organization, especially if they are inexperienced. Provide proper training and make it easy for volunteers to help, and they will keep coming back. On the contrary, if volunteers stand around feeling confused or overwhelmed by difficult tasks, you can expect them not to return. Here are a few ways to simplify the process:

  • Guide them: Be a new volunteer’s guide the moment they walk through the door. Give them a tour of the facility, introduce them to other volunteers and staff, and explain your mission. Also, make sure they understand their duties.
  • Provide training: Let them know immediately that they will receive the tools and training necessary to complete their assignments. Remind them you are grateful for their help, and let them know you are there to offer direction. If they are to be trained by someone else, explain to them who will provide their training.
  • Encourage questions: Volunteers should always feel comfortable asking questions. If they don’t, they might become frustrated with their tasks and leave. Encourage them to communicate with you, ask questions, and voice their concerns whenever they need to.
  • Provide support: New volunteers might feel excluded or anxious in the beginning. Help them feel a sense of belonging by pairing them with another volunteer for support. The buddy system is an excellent way to make a volunteer feel welcomed, and they get to make a new friend. A volunteer will be more likely to return when they feel connected to others.

It should not be difficult for volunteers to make a difference and help their community thrive. Make the whole process as simple as possible, from the sign-up to the arrival, and you’ll have volunteers returning time and time again.

4. Match Skills to Assignments

Almost half of survey respondents consider whether or not they will get to use their skills when choosing an organization. Forty-four percent say if an organization cannot use their specific skills they will go somewhere else.

Most volunteers do not want to do dull work. They are interested in volunteering because they have a specific talent or skill they wish to share with their community. If a volunteer gets to use their skills and talents, and if they get to see the results of their contributions, they will be more likely to stick around and continue enjoying a sense of accomplishment.

Most volunteers do not want to do dull work. They are interested in volunteering because they have a specific talent of skill they wish to share with their community.

Ask volunteers from the start what they love to do, what their interests are, and what they want to do. Do your best to match their skill levels with appropriate assignments. Also, give them the option to choose their assignment. Make sure volunteers are kept busy and have a backup plan if you accidentally overschedule volunteers. You do not want volunteers to feel like they are wasting their time.

5. Make It Fun and Comfortable

Volunteer work can be tough sometimes, no matter what someone’s skills are. Although volunteers are there because they want to be, it does not mean they should be uncomfortable. You can easily increase the level of comfort for volunteers with small details. For example, you might provide drinks, snacks, comfortable chairs, or other items that make the experience more pleasant.

It’s true that not all tasks are fun, but there are tons of ways to add joy to the atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Bring in a new donut flavor once a week, or offer volunteers their favorite candy. Overall, it’s best to ensure volunteers enjoy their experience.

Also, consider that many individuals volunteer to meet new people and socialize. With this in mind, you might arrange gatherings outside of service to help build stronger bonds and lasting friendships. The more comfortable and happy a volunteer is, the more motivated they will be to return.

6. Be Flexible

Part of being a volunteer is giving up considerable amounts of time to complete a project or help an organization long-term. Because of time, many people choose not to volunteer. For example, 32% of survey respondents do not volunteer because of the pressure to give more time than they want to. Forty-six percent do not volunteer because they don’t have time.

In today’s world, most people have packed schedules. They might cross volunteering off their to-do list if the time requirements are too demanding. If you want to attract and retain volunteers, it’s important to be as flexible as possible with scheduling. Consider each volunteer’s personal life, and make sure they feel comfortable helping in small ways.

Be flexible. In today's world, most people have packed schedules. If you want to attract and retain volunteers, it's important to be as flexible as possible with scheduling.

You can also think of alternatives to appeal to a wider range of volunteers. For example, you might allow volunteers to work from home if possible, or to contribute only an hour a week. The point is to let volunteers know that any contribution is appreciated, and there is no long-term commitment. By giving them short-term assignments, volunteers with tight schedules are more likely to come back.

Also, specify the amount of time you need from volunteers when you advertise for help. That way, volunteers know what to expect before they get started. Most volunteers will appreciate the flexibility and lack of pressure.

7. Communicate Often

Volunteers like to feel that someone is watching over them, guiding them, and supporting them. If a volunteer feels forgotten, it is unlikely they will return. Reach out to volunteers, address their concerns, answer their questions, and listen to their feedback. Remind them frequently that you appreciate them, and make sure they never feel ignored.

Reach out to volunteers, address their concerns, answer their questions, and listen to their feedback. Focus on building positive relationships with volunteers to keep them coming back.

Also, take time to evaluate their skills and consider opportunities to help them grow or improve. Similarly, ask volunteers for their input about community needs or wants, and what can be done to improve the organization. Lastly, ask volunteers what they need and if they feel supported. Make them feel part of a family or team by frequently checking in.

Overall, volunteer managers should focus on building positive relationships with volunteers to keep them coming back. Try to stay connected through email, phone, meetings, or social media. Communicating with volunteers does not need to be complicated or time-consuming, yet it makes all the difference.

8. Prevent Volunteer Burnout

You may recall jobs you’ve held in the past that you did not enjoy. You can also probably think of jobs you loved. What were the differences between the two? Think about the characteristics of good and bad jobs and use that insight to build a better experience for volunteers. When volunteers do not like the work they do, they might experience burnout.

Burnout can occur when volunteers feel overwhelmed, underappreciated, or like nothing they do matters. When volunteers do not enjoy their assignments or feel taken for granted, they will see little reason to stay, even if they’ve been there for years. To prevent burnout and losing your most loyal volunteers, aim to create a long-lasting positive experience in the following ways:

  • Offer ongoing training and educational opportunities
  • Offer meaningful work with detailed responsibilities
  • Offer necessary resources and space
  • Make volunteers feel respected
  • Offer support however you can
  • Make volunteers feel recognized and valued

9. Show Appreciation

Each volunteer hour is valued at an estimated $24.69. Considering that volunteers donate their hard work and time, it’s important to make them feel appreciated and valued at every meeting.

Each volunteer hour is valued at an estimated $24.69

Showing appreciation can be easy and inexpensive. There are so many simple ways to show someone you care about them and value them. Sometimes, even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference and help you retain volunteers.

For example, you can thank a volunteer with a quick note or an email message. In a matter of minutes, you can show them you notice what they do for your organization, and you are grateful for them.

Some organizations thank volunteers by giving them free meals for a certain amount of hours worked. Either way, make sure to say thank you often. When a volunteer feels appreciated, they will continue to give their time and effort.

It’s okay to get creative and have fun with showing your appreciation. Keep in mind that expressing gratitude does not require tons of money, although it’s up to you how elaborate you wish to get. Here is a list of ideas to inspire you:

  • Send the message: Thank volunteers via letters, emails, or thank-you cards. Surprise volunteers with birthday cards, and make them feel extra special.
  • Spread the word: Give volunteers the recognition they deserve through media coverage or by writing about volunteers in newsletters. You might also provide a wall plaque for volunteers acknowledging their hours of service or start a volunteer-of-the-month program.
  • Give: Give volunteers gifts such as mugs, t-shirts, or tote bags decorated with the organization logo to make them feel like they belong. Give them treats like movie or concert tickets, gift cards, or other tokens of appreciation they can use and enjoy.
  • Celebrate: Celebrate National Volunteer Week and host an event to honor volunteers. Invite staff to the event to take part in the festivities and show their appreciation. You might also hold an annual event just for volunteers, or celebrate certain milestones you create with volunteers.
  • Listen: Make an effort to get to know volunteers personally. Remember details about their lives and interests, and continue the conversation next time you see them.

10. Stay in Touch

After a volunteer completes an assignment, it’s important to stay in touch. That way, if an individual decides they would like to volunteer again, they will know where to turn. You can encourage individuals to volunteer at your organization again by:

  • Thanking them
  • Showing their impact
  • Promoting future opportunities
  • Getting to know them better

Individuals will be more interested in volunteering again if they know they made a difference. Keep volunteers up-to-date on the organization’s progress. Share success stories or invite them to tour the full facility so they can see how their actions fit into the overall picture. Once they witness the result of their efforts, they will feel motivated to come back.

11. Keep Track of Volunteers

Depending on the size or sector, an organization might see dozens of new volunteers a year. With so many different names and faces coming and going, it can be difficult to keep track of volunteers. Nevertheless, volunteer managers need to develop a system to remember details about every individual and avoid making volunteers feel unnoticed.

Volunteer managers should be able to efficiently track a volunteer’s needs, hours of service, contact information, and personal information such as birthdate. They should also have a way to remember a volunteer’s interests and skills. With organized, easy-to-access information about each volunteer, managers can easily send birthday cards, email messages, thank-you notes, and more. It’ll also be easier to ask for volunteer feedback if you know how to reach them.

Keep track of volunteers. Volunteer managers should be able to efficiently track a volunteer's needs, hours of service, contact information, and personal information such as birth date.

The ultimate goal is to make volunteers feel like you truly care about them and appreciate them as an individual.

Try Volgistics Today

Volunteer managers can improve volunteer retention by using volunteer management software like Volgistics. Volgistics makes it easy to keep track of volunteers from the initial screening and beyond. With Volgistics, you can use the following features to boost volunteer satisfaction and simplify communication:

  • Volunteer scheduling: Featuring both automated and manual volunteer reminders, Volgistics helps you stay organized and on top of scheduling, so volunteers don’t wind up standing around.
  • Volunteer tracking: You can use Volgistics to easily keep track of volunteer information such as names, contact info, hours served, and more.
  • Volunteer application forms: You can effortlessly collect information about prospective volunteers from your organization’s website to consider the best individuals for an assignment.
  • Volunteer portal: With the optional VicNet module, volunteers can check their schedules, update their contact info, and receive messages from you to feel like a true part of the team.
  • Sign-in kiosk: VicTouch is optional but worth considering because it makes on-site sign-in easy for volunteers.
  • Text and email features: Keep communication open and ongoing through a channel volunteers prefer.

Try Volgistics Today

The Volgistics team is excited to help you improve volunteer retention with easy-to-use, contract-free volunteer management software. To learn more about Volgistics, contact our support team, join a live demo, or begin your free trial today.

Posted in Tips | Leave a comment

Tip of the Week October 15, 2018

System Operators can access the Volgistics Store from inside account.

The Volgistics Store is where accounts can create invoices, pay for service, change service levels and perform other administrative tasks. Volgistics Administrators can access the Store by visiting www.volgistics.com, hovering over Try or Buy, clicking Store, and entering their credentials. But there is another way into the Store that you can use to save time:

  1. Login to your Volgistics account as you normally would.
  2. Select Setup from the Menu.
  3. Expand the “Account management” link.
  4. Click Store.

Don’t like YouTube? Click here instead.

Posted in Tip of the Week, Tips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Guide to Volunteer Management

Volunteer logistics — it’s a fancy term that’s a whole lot easier said than done.

For every volunteer manager in the industry with a finely tuned, perfectly cemented, top-to-bottom volunteer management system in place, there are ten trying to get there. And by no fault of their own. Nonprofits face a host of duties and responsibilities balanced against the backdrop of the nonprofit industry’s laundry list of concerns, from tight finances and a competitive donor landscape to stretched staff and overall organizational growth.

What’s more, that list of concerns is only made longer without a solid base of volunteers serving at its heart, engaging, supporting, and catalyzing the missions of the entire organization.

These are not easy tasks for volunteer leaders in the real world. That’s precisely why we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to effectively manage volunteers to improve volunteer engagement.

Successful volunteer management goes far past feel-good fluff. Behind every nonprofit is a family of individuals whose work goes beyond the routine call of duty. With the right tools, steps, and strategies in place, you can maximize that work and ensure that your volunteer family feels as much a part of your mission as possible — for years to come.

We’ve got tips on volunteer management best practices, plus tangible ways to organize and improve key volunteer management domains to make your practices efficient, streamlined, scalable, and cost-effective. It’s a winning recipe to attract and retain volunteers, helping your nonprofit achieve what it was meant to be.

What Is Volunteer Management?

Before taking a deep-dive into the step-by-step strategies to improve volunteer management, we must first peel back what exactly this role is and how it fits into an institution’s larger organizational structure.

Volunteer management is the umbrella term for the collective tactics, strategies, and processes in place for an organization to use volunteers. Within those strategies are certain stages, or domains, which together are known as the volunteer lifecycle.

Volunteer management is the umbrella term for the collective tactics, strategies, and processes in place for a nonprofit to use volunteers.

If a nonprofit has the resources, they will appoint a volunteer manager — a staff member whose role it is to implement and oversee the volunteer lifecycle exclusively. However, it is not uncommon for program managers or a nonprofit’s director themselves to adopt aspects of a volunteer manager, given the size or current capacities of their organization.

Tips on Volunteer Management Across Nonprofit Types

There are approximately 29 different classifications of nonprofits in the United States, defined according to the Internal Revenue Service. The most common type, however, is the 501(c)(3) Nonprofit, encompassing the gamut of charitable, educational, civil service, and religious organizations with certain tax-exempt statuses who do work within and for the general public.

There are apporximately 29 different classifications of nonprofits in the United States, defined according to the Internal Revenue Service.

You are likely most familiar with a number of 501(c)(3) organizations. Tips on volunteer management for this type of nonprofit tend to center on recruiting, engaging, and retaining volunteers and extend across the following popular volunteerism niches:

  1. Healthcare, Hospices, and Palliative Care

From hospital baby rockers, front-desk greeters and clerical assistance to special-event help and inpatient unit volunteers, hospitals and health services have no shortage of opportunities. Volunteer managers in the healthcare industry often manage in-depth volunteer screenings and interviews alongside volunteer documentation and compliance regulations.

  1. Animal Rescues or Pet Shelters

Volunteering at an animal shelter is one of the most popular service types around. Private and municipally run rescues and shelters have a variety of around-the-clock routines their staff requires help with, from pet walking to grooming and shelter cleaning. Likewise, aquariums and zoos maintain a solid rotation of volunteers for their special events and their own internal maintenance tasks.

Animal Rescues or Pet Shelters

  1. Community Outreach

With an innate focus on bettering their surroundings, community outreach nonprofits can take shape in neighborhood clean-up crews, afterschool programs, or civil services with a hyper-local footprint. They inherently rely on volunteers found within their neighborhoods — indeed, not doing so contradicts their nature. Volunteer managers in community outreach programs need to connect and care about deep-seated community issues, as well as translate that care into clear volunteer pipelines.

  1. Museums and Education Nonprofits

Skill-matching opportunities abound at education-driven nonprofits or places where learning and culture are at the heart of operations, such as museums. Math and literacy tutors are nearly always in demand at after-school programs, while volunteers assist in core capacities that museums or educational foundation don’t have the in-house staff or funding for.

  1. Food Banks

Food banks or food-justice nonprofits deal with one of the most pressing and immediate hardships people experience — food insecurity. They balance high donation turnover with scheduling overlapping volunteer shifts and a near-steady stream of community guests, all of which tends to fall under a volunteer manager’s helm.

Food Banks

  1. Veterans’ Services

Nonprofits dedicated to veterans’ services often wear numerous hats. From medical and related health services, job training and placement, and moving and relocation to general military-to-civilian transitions, they serve a pocket of the population that has served us for so long. Volunteer managers in this nonprofit niche must balance numerous volunteer specialties while remaining sensitive to the needs and interests of their community.

Types of Volunteers

Volunteer managers also know that not all volunteers are the same. In-person, task-specific service, or event staffing is crucial — and the most common type of volunteer. Yet in today’s world, the list of ways for the public to lend their time and talents to an organization doesn’t stop there.

  • Virtual Volunteers: Today’s world allows people to dedicate their time and skills without having to step into a nonprofit physically. Virtual volunteers most often perform functions for an organization that can be done remotely, such as bookkeeping or social media.
  • Mentorship: Considered a type of formal, long-term volunteering, mentorship opportunities allow you to do center relationships, namely through youth mentorship or professional development/career mentorship.
  • Pro-Bono Work: Individuals with a specific trade or talent can apply those skills in the service of a nonprofit free of charge. From legal counsel to designing an organization’s new website to catering an event, pro-bono partnerships are often essential for volunteer managers to cultivate.
  • Corporate Volunteers: Employee groups taking time out of their workday to volunteer not only better their communities, but they grow closer as a team, exercise new skills, and boost the brand of their company’s reputation.
  • Target Demographic Volunteers: Youth groups and retired communities are amongst the most likely to volunteer their time, with older teens — age 16-19 — and seniors — age 65 and up — driving volunteer engagement rates.

Tips on Volunteer Management Domains

How to effectively manage volunteers begins by identifying a clear and succinct role for the volunteer manager.

Many assume a volunteer manager funnels all their time and energy into routine volunteer advertising into the community. They use multiple channels to do so — digital, print, or interpersonal — with the end-goal to attract and secure as much extra assistance as possible.

While it’s intuitive that this individual is a vital member of the staff and the crucial touch point for community engagement, it’s not so straightforward what those day-to-day operations include that equate to evergreen volunteer infrastructure. What’s more, this volunteer-manager cliché doesn’t take into account other essential responsibilities, such as retention, engagement, and community branding, or building long-term volunteer capacity and securing stable revenue or funding across fields for their institution.

A dynamic volunteer manager should have work domains extending beyond being a mere volunteer recruitment voice, participating in the following nonprofit operations:

  1. Ideation and Implementation of a Strategic Plan

Strategic plans are not only meant for the private sector. They’re also not broad swaths of intangible or unrealistic goals your nonprofit dreams of, without concrete actions to get there.

Rather, strategic plans serve as the stepping stones to the future version of your organization. They turn the intangible into the actionable by identifying three or four overall goals, then their target timelines, then the step-by-step measures to reach those goals and the resources necessary to make them happen.

The more specific, the better. Strategic planning for nonprofits starts with building momentum around a strong mission, as this imprints an organization’s identity and helps shape future wants and needs. It is imperative to have a volunteer manager at the table during strategic planning, as well as to review and spearhead a few of its annual goals.

Strategic planning for nonprofits starts with building momentum around a strong mission, as this imprints an organization's identity and helps shape future wants and needs.

  1. Working Volunteers into the Larger Organizational Structure

Likewise, nonprofits big and small should also have an organizational structure in-place. These documents serve as the scaffolding to positions and domains, linking the two in a transparent, defined manner for all in the organization to assess. Organizational structures show the chain of command as well as who to turn to during specific procedures.

A volunteer manager will sit somewhere in the organizational structure, as will other predominant staff roles at a nonprofit, like the director, assistant director, and program coordinators — all nestled under a governing board of directors.

However, where do your volunteers land? It’s inarguable that volunteers are essential to your nonprofit’s framework. Display that value by working them into your overall organizational structure.

  1. Manage the Entire Volunteer Lifecycle

Last but certainly not least, volunteer managers direct volunteer operations across its various stages. Tailoring best practices through their nonprofit’s equipment, technology, procedures, personnel, and networks, they oversee the entirety of the volunteer lifecycle. That volunteer lifecycle, in turn, is broken down into five distinct branches:

  1. Volunteer Recruitment
  2. Volunteer Communication
  3. Volunteer Retention
  4. Volunteer Tracking and Recognition
  5. Volunteer Impact Analysis

These are the domains volunteer managers are best known for — and are the very segments this guide will break down below. We’ll provide in-depth tips, methods, and strategies to capitalize on your available resources to make every stage of the volunteer lifecycle as dynamic and efficient as possible — all while building the smoothest volunteer pipeline for your nonprofit, today and tomorrow.

Manage the entire volunteer lifecycle

1. Volunteer Recruitment

It’s square one in the series of volunteer manager tasks. It’s the foothold upon which volunteer operations depend and the base of the entire service-work lifecycle — without which, a nonprofit cannot execute its full mission and engagement potential.

Thanks to technology, digital volunteer recruitment methods have expanded in the past decade. Yet these tools don’t eliminate the creativity and work that goes into phase one of the volunteer lifecycle. Rather, it lends volunteer recruitment tactics a sharper launching point for easier volunteer advertising, making its subsequent checkpoints more productive, cooperative, and sustainable.

  1. Recruitment Methods

Volunteer recruitment methods combine the warmth and personability of word-of-mouth interactions with the reach and functionality of digital publicity. The following volunteer recruitment methods offer the best means to broadcast service opportunities for today’s savvy volunteer manager:

  • Social Media Networking: Rather than posting events on your social media pages alone, reach out to local businesses and even other nonprofits to share volunteering endeavors. These aggregate partnerships are natural and quickly compound into a wide-reaching volunteer network.
  • Community Boards: On both physical boards in community hotspots and digital boards hosted on your local municipality’s websites, post volunteer schedules, and highlight upcoming events to generate a larger audience.
  • Target Demographic Partnerships: Remember those target volunteer demographics from earlier? Reach youth groups and senior citizens online through websites or digital communities they’re a part of. You can also directly contact places where these groups spend their time, such as community living centers, high schools, or colleges.
  • Online Directories: Most counties host official websites dedicated to linking prospective volunteers with in-need organizations in the area. You can search for these directories online and submit your nonprofit to be featured.
  • Your Own Website: Ensure your nonprofit’s website has a clear, user-friendly volunteer board so that visitors of all kinds can easily access it.

Social Media Networking

  1. Applications

Create volunteer applications, with a special emphasis on digital forms that candidates can fill out and submit directly from your website. Whether you receive these applications via email or through a special software or portal, you have a dedicated place to review, input, and organize volunteers and move onto the screening stage.

  1. Background Checks

Once candidate applications have been vetted, ensure you have the next proper recruitment protocol in place — background checks.

Background checks not only satiate many boards of directors, but they are often a base requirement to meet insurance provider’s nonprofit liability coverage minimums. Depending on the nonprofit type and services you operate, it may be mandatory for your organization to run formal background checks on any candidate.

Whether accomplished through a private screening company, a state agency, or completed in-house using public records, a volunteer manager must guarantee the people entering their space are aligned with its mission. But before running background checks for your applicants, you should decide what you’re looking for and what positions, if any, a volunteer would be prohibited from serving in based on what you find.

  1. Placement Interviews

Placement interviews are key ways to connect with prospective volunteers. After applications and background checks have been processed, setting up placement interviews allows a volunteer manager to get to know the in-depth skills, interests, and growth areas of a person — plus treats that volunteer like a valued, holistic member of the team, not just an extra body.

  1. Health Screenings, If Necessary

Finally, the recruitment process concludes with an official health screening — but only if required due to the nature of the nonprofit or the work a volunteer will be doing.

For example, hospital volunteers are often required to undergo a handful of health screens, such as a two-step tuberculin skin test, before inclusion on a volunteer roster. These health screenings may be worked into a placement interview or even completed beforehand to keep onboarding as streamlined as possible.

For the simplest, most efficient and effective volunteer recruitment processes, consider adding volunteer recruitment software into your nonprofit’s infrastructure. These tools allow you to build a “one-stop shop” for all potential volunteers, with online directories, applications, volunteer descriptions, and scheduling accessible in a single location.

For the simplest, most efficient and effective volunteer recruitment processes, consider adding volunteer recruitment software into your nonprofit's infrastructure.

2. Volunteer Communication

Though it permeates nearly all aspects of the job, volunteer communication strategies tend to go under the radar. It’s an assumed aspect of the volunteer manager’s position — the ability to reach out, communicate, and stay in touch with the community — yet one that sees little definition or strategized tactics.

Understanding how to better communicate with volunteers across the lifecycle directly translates into keeping and improving those volunteers. We’ve got a few strategies for better volunteer communication to adopt in your nonprofit today.

  1. Volunteer Schedules

Coordinating schedules has caused many pounding headaches for volunteer managers — especially without the right scheduling and communication tools in place to make it a little easier.

Outdated models of volunteer scheduling include static programs, such as Excel or similar spreadsheets, where collaboration is non-existent and cyclical versions have to be continuously produced. What’s more, it’s impossible for volunteers to access these schedules on their own.

Instead, volunteer managers have a host of two-way programs they can utilize to create schedules faster and easier:

  • Self-scheduling volunteer software is becoming more and more prevalent. Volunteers themselves can log in, pick volunteer slots, and track their own hours. Volunteer managers get notices when this occurs and can oversee proper shift allotments.
  • Commitment-tracking features also let you analyze what kind of volunteers you most frequently attract as well as their hours and skillsets, from “one-and-done” episodic volunteers to pro-bono work to reoccurring, formal service members. You can use this insight to further tailor schedules.
  1. Role Descriptions and Volunteer Confirmation

Do you post and maintain role advertisements on your organization’s website? Are those volunteer roles clearly differentiated and detailed, containing relevant information such as role expectations, physical work requirements, time commitments, or specialty skills needed?

Conversely, do you have a portal where prospective volunteers can submit a skill or volunteer interest on their own? And are your communication channels — from phone and email to website notices or automated messages — alerting you of a candidate’s interest so you can respond quickly and professionally?

Consider adding the following communication extensions:

  • Automated messages when a volunteer candidate expresses interest, such as a thank-you email and link to your official application page.
  • Automated confirmation and calendar reminders when volunteers are scheduled.
  • E-Newsletters sent out to free subscribers, with the latest news and volunteer opportunities available.
  • Text and email volunteer management software where you can reach out to individuals or entire groups of volunteers, conveniently and with a few clicks.
  1. Training Programs

Role-specific volunteer training is a pivotal part of successful volunteer communications. It signals the start of volunteer onboarding while also fostering a sense that volunteers are as critical to a nonprofit’s mission as paid staff.

Don’t go overboard, though. Develop a handful of volunteer training based on critical service types. Create a tailored presentation and role walkthrough for each, plus a service binder with important materials printed out for volunteers to keep.

Lastly, be flexible with training dates and times. Always ensure you’ve sent clear instructions and a reminder about times and locations where training is occurring.

  1. Feedback Loops and Ongoing Volunteer Support

Just as we’re all familiar with employee reviews, nonprofits can capitalize on volunteer feedback to glean insights on organization, communication, and process improvements.

These feedback meetings, or loops, serve three purposes:

  1. They prioritize volunteers’ opinions and make them feel valued, seen, and heard in the organization.
  2. They allow volunteer managers to gather fresh perspectives on internal processes, which in turn can be used to improve strategic planning and overall organizational management.
  3. They directly increase volunteer retainment retention rates.

Feedback loops work two-ways, as well. You can also use this time to give feedback on the volunteer’s activities and performance itself, if comfortable doing so and agreed upon at the onset of a volunteer’s commitment. That is to say, never surprise a volunteer with a performance review. Include these up-front in role descriptions and get active consent from a volunteer if they wish to have one.

All this lays the foundation of ongoing volunteer support, where service members feel intimately involved in the nonprofit. They tie their presence, attitude, and energy as factors contributing to or detracting from an organization’s progress.

3. Volunteer Retention

Even the most seasoned volunteer managers search for tips on volunteer retention. It’s at the heart of their operations, and one many professional development and industry resources dedicate generous time and resources to.

The most common volunteer retention advice centers on recognition — creating center-stage moments where individuals and their achievements are broadcast for all to see. Yes, this kind of recognition is one of the leading ways to retain volunteers — but it’s not the only way.

Before curating volunteer recognition and rewards, a manager must first keep a volunteer coming back, time and time again. How can volunteer managers imbue meaning and impact into every individual who walks through their door — and translate their work into collective momentum?

Volunteer Retention

  1. Empowerment through Purpose

As a nonprofit, mission and values must be central to everything you do. From the t-shirts you supply and the brochures you hand out to the speeches and presentations you make, your “brand” revolves around a central purpose. So, too, should your volunteer interactions.

This doesn’t mean operating like a commercial, with inauthentic dialogue or brand-centric moments. What it does mean is framing volunteer work always with an empowering, positive message. Openly discuss short and long-term strategic goals and how volunteers help secure them. Discuss the tangibles of their work. Add a purpose — quantifiable, qualifiable, or both — to all events or projects.

  1. Track and Record Service

Look for complete online tools that allow you to easily input and track each volunteer’s service hours. This is a critical internal measure for both volunteer retention and recognition, as well as totaling end-of-year service bulletins or impact reports.

The more detailed this software or system, the better. Beyond totaling hours, you can assign volunteer classifications, designate groups, build data sets, and organize contact information all in one spot.

  1. Balance Work and Play

Show your gratitude while building stronger volunteer connections by hosting celebratory events. These can be upbeat and social, such as sports outings, barbecues, or ice-cream socials for volunteers to mix and mingle in a laid-back environment. Like most gatherings, this helps volunteers feel like a part of a team and more likely to stay engaged with your nonprofit.

  1. Always Say Thanks

From handwritten thank-you cards to small treats and surprises, saying thanks never goes out of style. When it comes to volunteer retention, showing appreciation is not only an industry best practice — it’s a way to maximize connectivity and loyalty over time.

Use your networks and online platforms as a means to say thank you, as well. Consider “volunteer spotlight” posts weekly or bi-weekly, where a volunteer is showcased on your nonprofit’s Facebook, Instagram, or other social media pages — with their permission, of course. Try to quantify their impact as much as possible in these posts, using numbers to shed light on how much they’ve done and what their work means to the organization.

Always Say Thanks

  1. Curate a Safe Volunteer Environment

Volunteers are unlikely to return to your organization if they don’t feel properly equipped or informed — or worse, threatened or unsafe. This falls under the umbrella concern of organizational security, which a volunteer manager can proactively curate through their own management styles.

Beyond making volunteers feel supported and welcomed, managers need to make them feel comfortable. From conflict management resolution amongst volunteers to running proper background checks to clean, sanitary environments, make sure to cross your Ts and dot your Is when it comes to safe volunteer settings. This, in turn, encourages returning volunteers.

4. Volunteer Tracking and Recognition

With the right tools and measures in place, volunteer managers can move on to their next critical domain — tracking and recognizing their volunteers.

It’s a part of the job many say they love, as it adds momentum to volunteerism and puts a personal face on nonprofit achievements. It’s also one of the easiest yet most important PR initiatives for nonprofit organizations to undertake, regularly highlighting the human impact so critical to their success.

Many volunteer managers have their own ways to track volunteer hours, commitment types, and projects. Yet harmonizing these systems and making them accessible to others within the organization not only helps keep volunteer tracking evergreen amidst turnover, but it creates a pipeline where this domain is never lost or overlooked.

  1. Categorize Commitment

A key part of volunteer tracking is not only knowing who’s coming in and when, but also what kind of services they’re performing. For your own nonprofit metrics, categorizing volunteer commitment helps you see where your strengths and weaknesses are so you may tailor improvements accordingly.

For example, with a categorized volunteer report, you may be able to determine that your organization relies heavily on youth groups who are exercising mandatory service-hour obligations. You can see that volunteer names and groups change frequently, with most being short-term or project contingent.

All this categorization shows that your current volunteer recruitment practices skew episodic and highly demographic. You have data in place emphasizing the need for longer-term, lower-turnover volunteers types, and can pitch for those resources. None of these informed decisions would be possible without volunteer categorization software or program extensions.

  1. Run Volunteer Reports

Volunteer reports are often one of the key deliverables under a volunteer manager’s helm.

Whether your organization chooses to run them weekly, monthly, quarterly, or in a custom timeframe, it is absolutely critical for there to be a system in place that turns stored volunteer data into itemized reports.

What’s more, these reports should be versatile and tailored to their respective audiences. Volunteers who request reports for their own accountability or mandatory service hours will get different information than a broader, quarterly report printed for the board. Likewise, volunteer reports will help a volunteer manager execute a range of daily tasks, such as project and task delegation, managing expenditures, or initiating a timely performance review.

  1. Celebrate Service

With a streamlined program in place effortlessly tracking the hours and impact of volunteers, it’s only natural to communicate that information outward. Celebrate and reward the hard work of your most dedicated volunteers with a number of creative volunteering honors:

  • Reach Out: Contact the volunteer’s employer to share their service. This proves not only the dedicated work ethic of that individual but also their integrity and commitment to causes beyond themselves. If possible, consider reaching out to the mayor’s office or local politicians to have them send service thank yous as well, especially if the volunteer has spent time on community endeavors.
  • Treat Them: Treat the volunteer to dinner at their favorite restaurant, a basket of favorite baked treats, festival tickets, music events, or more. The more personalized, the better.
  • Volunteer Hall of Fame: Dedicate space within your nonprofit to showcasing pictures of your volunteers in action, along with service plaques and a list of their achievements.
  • Scrapbook of Service: Have staff members, along with anyone who’s been directly affected by the volunteer’s service, write personal notes to them. Compile those messages in a “service scrapbook” for the volunteer to look back on.
  • Local Store Discount: Consider reaching out to local cafes, grocery stores, coffee shops, and retailers for local service-award discounts. Many of these might qualify as tax write-offs for the business.
  • Nominate Them: Nominate outstanding volunteers for local community awards to have their hard work recognized even further.

5. Volunteer Impact Analysis and Reporting

A volunteer manager can truly showcase the time, talent, and accomplishments of their collective volunteer efforts through annual volunteer impact reports.

Measuring service hours, volunteer categories, projects and events accomplished, money fundraised, and goals quantified, these reports give a logistical perspective to the use and support of volunteers. In fact, 2018 averages show that every hour of a volunteer’s work equals nearly $25 in value — rivaling the impact of even cash donations.

2018 averages show that every hour of a volunteer's work equals nearly $25 is value - rivaling the impact of even cash donations.

Volunteer managers can use impact analyses and reports to calculate the cost-savings or monetarily-backed service enhancements of their nonprofits. These numbers can then be put to use across a number of beneficial applications:

  1. Volunteer Impact Reports

The basics of a good volunteer report should include:

  • Dollar Value of Volunteer Hours: Any calculation that converts the work and hours of volunteers into economic, social, or tangible community enhancements. These are highly specific to a nonprofit and can be easily gathered from value-generating software.
  • Productivity Rates: Based on volunteer and hour-related information collected from surveys and direct observation.
  • Testimonials: Words and insights on the power of volunteers, straight from the sources most impacted by them.
  • Project Outputs: Proof of progress toward strategic goals and initiatives — which are especially pertinent to donors and the board of directors.
  • Other Impact-Report Figures: You can include any other important progress numbers, including social media engagement, funds raised, increased awareness around an issue, events managed, donations procured, and so on.

Volunteer Impact Reports

  1. Grant Writing

Generating volunteer impact reports directly sets you up to prepare better grant proposals. And since grants remain one of the leading sources of funding for nonprofits — yet also one of the most competitive — presenting concrete numbers helps set you apart.

You can use the numbers and calculations to prepare stronger grant applications. That’s because most grant calls specifically ask for impact-based metrics. They want to know exactly how far awarded money can go, and if you have the infrastructure and support in place to deliver.

  1. Volunteer Compliance

Volunteer impact reports and analyses also serve to help volunteer managers document compliance. Nonprofits in the healthcare, social services, or youth mentorship niches, in particular, have volunteer and documentation procedures they must adhere to.

Overall Volunteer Management Trend Dos and Don’ts

As nonprofits adapt to evolving volunteer expectations, shifting demographics, tighter sources of funding, and emerging technologies, their organizational processes must develop as well. Volunteer managers can stay ahead of the game, crowd, or pack to be leaders in a field , succeed, or win. Keep important content above the fold to be noticed by professionally improving upon volunteerism trends of the past few years:

Do:

  • Embrace Video: Video has emerged as the dominant digital engagement tool of the 21st century. Harness it for both entertaining and educational purposes, including public-facing nonprofit branding, to volunteer recruitment, or even setting up video modules for new volunteer training.
  • Match Your Message With Your Audience: For volunteer recruitment efforts, use specific, targeted messages that will connect with the demographic you wish to bring onboard. Millennials and youth groups tend to link altruistic acts with their own quality of life, whereas baby boomers separate the two, seeing volunteering as a social duty. Tailor recruitment and mission messaging accordingly.
  • Start Exploring Smartphones: From implementing text-friendly donation platforms, to making your website mobile-friendly, to texting as a point-of-contact with volunteers, don’t shy away from utilizing today’s leading consumer technologies.

Don’t:

  • Forget Structure: While volunteering shouldn’t be as rigid as a job, it should still come with expectations, skill development, training, oversight, and room for growth. Communicate those possibilities effectively at every level.
  • Forgo Insurance: Organizations must mitigate risks and protect themselves from unforeseen volunteer occurrences where the nonprofit is left liable. Research both Volunteer Injury Insurance and Directors and Officers Liability, as well as General Liability to assess your positions, or consult with a pro-bono legal expert.
  • Ignore Software: Software solutions for volunteer managers assist with nearly every aspect of the job, from volunteer retention, advertising, applications, scheduling, information storage, data tracking, report generation, and so much more. The role is only made more difficult without it.

Overall Volunteer Management Tread

Improve Volunteer Management with Software That Works for You

Volgistics serves over 5,000 nonprofits and helps track over 6 million volunteers with its nonprofit logistics software.

Volgistics has served over 5,000 nonprofits and helped track over 6 million volunteers with its nonprofit logistics software.

And it’s only the beginning. We want to make volunteer managers’ roles more streamlined, simple, and efficient through our user-friendly software so you can focus on what really matters — living out your organization’s mission.

Explore our suite of solutions today, or get in touch for a free, no-obligation trial account.

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Tip of the Week October 08, 2018

Preview what volunteers see when they login to VicNet.

If your organization uses the VicNet module you may want to preview what a volunteer sees when they login. This can be useful when you’re doing things such as setting up Vic self-scheduling to see if you’ve set it up correctly. One way to do this is to go to your organization’s VicNet portal and enter the volunteer’s email address and password.

However, you can do this even faster and without knowing their password by previewing VicNet from the Vic tab of their record. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Select Volunteers from the Menu.
  2. Locate the volunteer’s record and click on the name.
  3. Click the Vic tab.
  4. If the VicNet section shows “Access is OK,” click the Preview button to see VicNet.

If the tab does not show “Access is OK,” help topic 1073 may be helpful.

Don’t like YouTube? Click here instead.

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