A lot goes into running a successful and engaging volunteer program. When done well, it helps your organization meet its goals and ensure your team is happy and motivated. From recruiting new volunteers and engaging with your existing supporters to building the perfect schedule and tracking volunteer hours, there’s a lot to plan and even more to manage.
For most volunteer managers, a simple spreadsheet and hundreds of email chains lead to frustration and poor results. That’s where technology comes in to save the day—and valuable time and resources for your mission.
There are many ways that volunteer management software can help organizations improve their management strategy while providing volunteers with a great experience. Let’s dive into some in this post:With the right technology, you can:
Set specific roles
Keep costs low
Volunteer management is no easy task. With so much going on at any given time, miscommunication and administrative mistakes are common—especially when using multiple mismatched tools to manage your organization’s volunteer programs. To avoid those awkward and frustrating situations, many organizations choose to work out of a single volunteer management software (or VMS) to act as a focal point and keep everything running smoothly.
Let’s take a look at how a technology solution like a VMS can help you streamline your volunteer management strategy.
1. Increase communication
We all know that communication is essential to great operations, but it can really make or break a volunteer program. One of the most frustrating things to a volunteer is poor communication with an organization. This can take many forms, including not keeping a volunteer updated with critical information or too much communication about irrelevant topics. Finding that perfect communication sweet spot can be an administrative nightmare when managing it all manually.
That’s where communication automation in a VMS or other communication technology comes in to take the guesswork out of a volunteer manager’s day. For example, a manager could simply turn on automated email notifications to update volunteers on changes and send reminder emails leading up to their shifts.
All communication should have value and purpose to the audience it is being delivered to. Technological solutions offer administrators the ability to send individual and personalized messages to volunteers as well as a nice thank you after a hard day's work.
Increasing and streamlining meaningful communications can go a long way in setting your volunteers up for success. All that communication goes a long way in retaining and deepening engagement with your supporters.
2. Set specific roles
There are a lot of steps on a volunteer manager's planning checklist, and one important one is defining set volunteer roles. Specifically, it’s vital that you create detailed volunteer roles that outline what the responsibility entails, as well as skills, physical requirements, or certifications.
This allows volunteer managers to better schedule and screen volunteers and for volunteers to understand exactly what will be required if they sign up. Setting clear work expectations is vital for keeping everyone on the same page from day one.
Technology tools, like a VMS, can make creating detailed volunteer roles simple. Plus, it can empower you to collect critical information during the signup process through custom forms and help automate the scheduling process.
For example, if you have some roles that require first aid training and some that don’t, you can add a sign-up question about first aid certification. Then, the VMS will automatically recommend all the first aid certified volunteers for the roles that have that requirement. This reduces a lot of manual work and ensures everyone is qualified for the roles they are assigned to work.
3. Keep costs low
Volunteers are valuable assets to any organization, as they bring a tremendous amount of skills and knowledge that can make a huge impact on an organization or event. With the average hourly value of a volunteer’s time set at around $28 an hour, they are well worth the investment in tools and time to effectively manage them.
However, poor management and time-consuming volunteer strategies can increase costs for recruitment, training, and onboarding. That’s where a streamlined volunteer management strategy can help your organization achieve more with less overhead costs.
A VMS can help cut volunteer administrative time in half and can boost volunteer retention. Imagine all the great things your team could do with that extra time and money!
4. Demonstrate appreciation
Volunteers donate their time, skills, and hearts to the causes they believe in. When a volunteer shows up, they provide your organization with great value, which is why it is so important to show appreciation for their time and effort.
Luckily, there are powerful technology solutions that can ensure every volunteer feels appreciated. With customized thank you messages after every shift or monthly impact newsletters, you can easily share how their work has helped to further your organization’s mission.
There are so many ways to show appreciation, from thank you lunches to awards for dedicated individuals. No matter how you choose to say thank you, the important thing is that you do it often and personally. The more appreciated your volunteers feel, the more engaged and motivated they will be when donating their time.
Now it’s your turn to take these tips and apply them to your volunteer management strategy. There are many software solutions available to help your organization achieve more this year with less time, money, and effort. Start your streamlining journey today by looking for a solution that can help you apply these tried-and-true tips. Your volunteers and volunteer managers will thank you!