Is your nonprofit considering the leap to an online volunteer management system?
It’s a big step, but it can deliver tremendous return on investment for your organization. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the various product offerings and steps involved in the process, read on.
Below we demystify going digital by addressing the four biggest aspects to consider when making the change.
Don’t compromise on features. Make sure the volunteer management solution you choose does what you need. Some obvious “must have” features include:
- Self-registration: The most fundamental piece, obviously, is a system that not only allows administrators to register volunteers for volunteer opportunities, but also makes it easy for volunteers to self-register from a computer or mobile device.
- Communication: An online volunteer management system should also provide the flexibility of communicating via text and email, along with automating event confirmation, reminder, and thank-you messages.
- Event-specific landing pages: Make it more engaging and less confusing for volunteers by customizing registration pages. This allows you to design a page for a particular event or volunteer group, such as a church or employee volunteer program. Each page can be branded specifically for the event and customized with unique messaging and sponsor information.
- Volunteer self check-in: A more advanced application will also streamline volunteer management on the day of the event, not just leading up to it. Make sure the software you select has a virtual kiosk option for self check-in. This transforms your smartphone or tablet into a volunteer kiosk.
- CRM integration: Convert volunteers to donors by enabling integration to your CRM database. Doing so will allow you to become more efficient and also increase donations of both time and money.
- Helpful reporting: We all know how important statistics are for board reports and grant writing. Look for software that contains powerful reporting capabilities. It should be able to pull numbers for you such as hours donated per month, per year, per event, and per volunteer.
Features are certainly paramount when it comes to online volunteer management, but it’s also important to look behind the software and examine the vendor. Once you’ve determined that the solution is a good fit, then ask these questions to evaluate vendors:
- How long has the company been in business?
- Is it financially stable?
- Does the vendor have a list of customer references for you to contact?
- What kind of customer care and technical support does the company offer?
- What kind of security and backup is supplied with the software?
- Does the application integrate with other software you currently use, or plan to implement in the near future, such as a CRM?
Preparing Your Data
Once you’ve decided on a volunteer management system, then it’s time to gather your data. Many nonprofits that haven’t yet gone digital tend to have volunteer information in a variety of places, such as in paper files or spreadsheets. If this sounds familiar, the first thing to do is to scrub your data for duplicates and then eliminate as many manual entry errors as possible. After that, combine all your information into one spreadsheet. Doing so will help streamline the implementation of a volunteer management system.
Preparing Your Volunteers
Just as you’re getting your data ready for the switch, give your volunteers a heads-up, too. Don’t let your online transition be a surprise to them. About a month before the launch, send out an email announcing your new system. In this email, introduce your volunteers to the name of the system and let them know about all the advantages the application will have for them and your organization.
Try to create a sense of excitement with your email communication. Provide a launch date and reassure volunteers that account instructions will soon follow. Be sure that your subsequent email outlines a step-by-step process for volunteer sign up and event registration.
Take Your Volunteer Management to the Cloud
When it comes to making the change from manual to digital volunteer management, it’s all about having a plan. Know what to look for in your software and research your vendor. Then prepare your data and get your volunteers onboard with the new software. Once you’ve laid the groundwork, the transition to online volunteer management should be a smooth one – especially if you picked the best software!