The 5 Most Useful Volunteer Management Software Features
Posted Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 by Doss Church, Founder, Galaxy Digital
Technology is transforming the way charitable organizations manage volunteers. With over 77 million Americans volunteering each year, according to National Service.gov it’s no wonder more nonprofits are looking toward the latest software to help manage volunteers and track their impact. Fortunately, there are a variety of software options available for Volunteer Managers to choose from, each with a range of features.
Have you thought about what features would be most useful to your organization? We’ve gathered insight into the most valuable features nonprofit professionals are looking for in an ideal volunteer management software. As you evaluate your needs, keep these essential features in mind.
1. Volunteer Hours Tracking and Volunteer Hours Reporting
As a community organization, it’s important to track and communicate your impact to generate enthusiasm and sustain support from stakeholders. A volunteer management system that has a robust, grant-focused reporting tool and custom report-building capabilities, is a key component to look for. More accurate reporting on the outcomes of your volunteer program provides supporters with evidence that you’re allocating resources appropriately and constantly working to uphold your mission.
The key to capturing accurate data is to simplify the way you track volunteer hours. Some volunteer management systems offer multiple ways of tracking and logging volunteer time, like a mobile volunteer app that automatically logs hours when volunteers check in and out of a service project, or an online check-in kiosk that makes it easy to record attendance. Ultimately, automated tracking and comprehensive reporting capabilities can save you hours on administrative tasks, freeing you up to focus on building meaningful relationships.
2. Online Background Checks
Most volunteer organizations take steps to reduce risk and background checks are an essential component to helping to create a safer environment. Look for a volunteer management software that offers a simple integration with a quality background screening organization. The depth and breadth of volunteer background checks greatly varies, so it’s important to find a reputable provider.
By integrating background checks into your volunteer management system you can become more efficient and productive while creating a better experience for your volunteers. When volunteers register for an opportunity through your volunteer management platform, they can be automatically directed to complete a required check. Background checks can then be attached to each volunteer’s profile, so they can easily view and manage them.
3. Web-Based Volunteer Scheduling and Management
The advantage of a web-based site means volunteers, community partners, and nonprofit professionals can access the tool from anywhere. A centralized platform will allow (1) volunteers to engage with a website full of exciting opportunities, (2) community partners to promote volunteer needs on your site, and (3) coordinators to schedule volunteers with greater ease. Your software should be robust enough to reduce the number of systems or tools you need to engage and manage volunteers, without being too complicated to operate.
Here are some important software capabilities to consider:
- Opportunity Listings: Your volunteer management software can serve as the go-to place for volunteer opportunities in your community. Look for a clean interface that allows site users to search for local opportunities based on their preferences. Scheduling is simplified when volunteers can sign-up for opportunities themselves!
- Volunteer Database: Volunteers should be able to create profiles, enter their contact information, and complete important onboarding steps easily (like background checks and liability waivers) all through a single system. Their information should be stored online automatically once captured (eliminating the need for manual spreadsheet entry). Volunteer information should be both secure and accessible to site managers.
- Program Management: Your organization may oversee a variety of programs or work with a number of community partners across multiple locations. It’s important that these programs can all be managed using a centralized system. A tool that operates online means that program managers can access the system anywhere (and simultaneously).
- Data Tracker: You shouldn’t need a separate hour tracking and reporting procedure in order to get the data you need. Because volunteers should log their hours online–regardless of their location–your data will update live, and your reports are ready to download when required.
Generally, a web-based software tends to be the most effective way to maintain cohesiveness across your platform.
4. Communication Hub
Multi-channel communication is essential to maintaining real connections with volunteers. A software with Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) capabilities is an exceedingly useful tool for any coordinator; and some systems allow site managers to send emails and texts to volunteers and community partners directly, without having to use a separate CRM service (or build tedious email lists). Look for a software that allows you to filter your contact database based on a variety of preferences (by program, interests, availability, skills, and more). Your site should capture email addresses and essential profile information as volunteers register with your site, so you can establish communication with new volunteers promptly. You may want to explore additional communication features like:
- Automated Communication: When volunteers register for an opportunity, your system can automatically thank volunteers for their interest, send email reminders for an upcoming event, or ask for a donation to your cause.
- Volunteer Text Messaging: Need to communicate with your volunteers quickly? Some systems allow you to send text messages to groups of volunteers. This is especially helpful if you need to let volunteers know about last minute changes or communicate with event volunteers on the job.
- Mobile Notifications: If your platform has a volunteer mobile app, the app will notify volunteers when an opportunity nears. Mobile apps that utilize geo-location can even prompt volunteers to sign-in to a shift automatically when they’ve arrived on location.
- Social Media Integration: Sharing should be easy! Look for a software that integrates with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote your events and engage your community.
5. Volunteer Interests and Skills Matching
Does your current volunteer management process automate the matching of volunteers with opportunities, based on their unique interests and skills? By understanding more about your volunteers, like the causes they support and the skills they can offer, you’ll be able to target communications and offer a more tailored user experience for each individual. Plus, your organization can automatically provide informed opportunity suggestions, making it simpler for volunteers to find programs they’ll love. What’s more, you’ll find the right volunteers for each opportunity. When volunteers feel passionate about your cause, they’re more likely to become long-term supporters.
An effective volunteer management software can take the place of your spreadsheets and filing cabinets, while saving you valuable time and resources. It’s paramount that your software unifies the many facets of your volunteer program–from engagement to management. With the right system in place, you can provide that your registration, hours tracking, background checks, and communication systems are centralized, organized, and easily accessible. These useful features are designed to simplify your processes and reduce administrative time so that you can direct your efforts toward the people that help you fulfill your mission
Sterling Volunteers and Galaxy Digital
Galaxy Digital and Sterling Volunteers are proud to have a long-standing partnership. Through our integration we help organizations efficiently onboard, manage and screen volunteers – enabling them to focus on what matters most – making a difference in the community.