The following article was originally posted on the GuideStar Trust blog. Click here to read the original post.
A couple years ago we tackled the topic of inefficiencies within nonprofits and its impact on your volunteer relationships. As time and technology have advanced, it seems appropriate to re-evaluate this important subject once again.
By leveraging the latest technology, your organization will be in a better position to reduce inefficiencies and build longer lasting relationships with volunteers.
Here are some updates for 2015.
Inefficiency: Sifting through Contact Info
Does your nonprofit still have separate databases for volunteers and donors? If they are not cross-checked, your organization may be sending the same newsletter or other promotional pieces to the same person twice. Sure, this may be an annoyance for your supporters. More importantly, however, it may also serve as a red flag that your organization is not running as effectively as possible – and losing money in the process.
Some organizations attempt to solve this problem by manually merging or cross-checking volunteer and donor lists. This makes sense, as volunteers are “warm” leads for donations. But trying to manage this task is time-consuming and ultimately a losing battle.
Solution: Implement systems that “talk” with each other. For example, VolunteerHub, integrates with leading constituent relationship management (CRM) software. This means that contact information added or updated in VolunteerHub is seamlessly synchronized with your donor database. This eliminates the manual cross-checking and delivers better data.
Do your current systems “talk” to each other? Make a note to look into this question.
Inefficiency: Manually Texting Volunteers
Texting continues to grow in popularity, from teens to older adults. Some volunteer coordinators are trying to capitalize on this means of communication, but they end up wasting time in the process.
It goes something like this: coordinators are using their personal smartphones and adding volunteers as contacts. Then, they search for individual names and copy and paste reminder messages to send – accidentally omitting some of the volunteers occasionally. It’s easy to forget to send these messages, too, leading to low turnout for events. The whole process is inefficient and looks unprofessional since the texts are coming from a personal cell phone number.
Solution: Volunteer management systems can allow coordinators to send texts through the system (instead of via personal cell phones). Reminder texts can be set up ahead of time and scheduled to be delivered without the coordinator needing to lift another finger. Special texts are easy to send also, simply by selecting the appropriate group, typing the message, and hitting the “send” button.
Inefficiency: Resisting Automation
Your best volunteers want to sign up for events that repeat each month. If you’re using an automated approach to volunteer management, it should be good news. But what if the volunteer coordinator hasn’t had time (or simply forgot) to add the next month’s listing to your website? Now you have a frustrated volunteer on your hands – one who wants to volunteer but can’t sign up.
Solution: Technology should make life easier for both volunteers and volunteer coordinators. This includes being able to set up recurring volunteer events. If the activity occurs on a regular basis, volunteer coordinators should take advantage of setting up the particulars of the event once and then telling the system when and how many times it should repeat. Now there’s no forgetting to add the event to the list, and no confused volunteers either.
At first glance, all these hiccups may seem small. However, little things add up over time to become hours of inefficiency. If your nonprofit is falling into similar traps, now is the time to investigate ways to overcome them with some electronic help. Using technology demonstrates your nonprofit’s ability to be a good steward of resources – one of the cornerstones of volunteer trust.