Using downtime to optimize your volunteer scheduling process will prepare your organization to respond and increase program impact, after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many organizations, just like yours, have seen a decrease in volunteer opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your organization falls in this category, it is probably due to new restrictions that make utilizing large groups of volunteers impossible. Protecting your volunteers is crucial to the health of your supporters and the reputation of your nonprofit.
The good news is downtime does not need to be a hindrance, and this time can be strategically allocated to optimize your volunteer scheduling process, and program as a whole. It is true that we do not know how long organizations, like yours, will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but, we do know that eventually, we will get through this.
If learning from other disasters has taught us anything, the demand for your organization and its services should increase/shift after the pandemic is over. In fact, previous research on Hurricane Katrina, performed by Western Michigan University, showed that nonprofits involved in health, hunger, and housing saw an increase in clients needing assistance after the hurricane.
Obviously, pandemics and hurricanes are a different type of disaster, but, it is key for your organization to prepare for a shift in demand. Effectively preparing for an increase in need means examining your current strategy and identifying opportunities to streamline processes and/or operations.
There are several strategic reasons why your nonprofit may want to use downtime to optimize your volunteer scheduling process. Here are 3.
Manual Volunteer Scheduling Isn’t Sustainable
According to a recent Nonprofit Financial Priorities Benchmark study, performed by Wipfli, 7.5% of nonprofits see moving away from manual processes as a top challenge. Utilizing a manual volunteer scheduling process may work for small nonprofits, but if your organization is large or growing it presents substantial barriers.
First, keeping track of multiple spreadsheets and data entry procedures can make your volunteer data prone to error. Second, manual volunteer scheduling requires a large time commitment by organization staff, which could be better spent on other components of the program.
Third, most volunteers today prefer the ability to self-register for volunteer opportunities, quickly and efficiently, without having to talk to a volunteer coordinator directly. Finally, as your program grows the ability to schedule volunteers, without a streamlined process, becomes unmanageable and messy.
Investing in a streamlined volunteer management solution now will eliminate headaches and hassle down the road.
Don’t just take our word for it…here are a few quotes from VolunteerHub clients:
“Prior to VolunteerHub we managed our volunteer program by hand. We had a system of spreadsheets, memory, and phone calls. The process was controlled chaos and was not allowing our team to use our time effectively and to its full potential.” said Mary Bachman, Director of Volunteer Resources, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis
“VolunteerHub is helping us automate tracking, schedule volunteers ahead of events, enhance our communication strategy, and understand volunteer data,” said Hayley Harvey, Volunteer Coordinator, Humane Society of Sarasota County
“Prior to implementing VolunteerHub, we used multiple spreadsheets to manage volunteers. This method wasn’t an effective use of our time,” said Mary Cooper, Office Service Coordinator, St. Louis Area Foodbank
Self-Registration Leads to Higher Engagement
Optimizing and streamlining your volunteer scheduling process doesn’t just make things easier for staff, it also increases engagement with volunteers. By implementing a volunteer management solution, like VolunteerHub, you strategically create an easier process for volunteers to interact with your organization.
In other words, implementing a streamlined volunteer scheduling solution will allow your volunteers to access their account, register for opportunities, and share your organization’s mission, on their time.
Ease of access increases volunteer engagement. You may also find that the time-savings from volunteer scheduling software increases your volunteer coordinators’ ability to focus on building personal relationships (also increasing engagement).
Check out these quotes from VolunteerHub clients about self-registration:
“Our volunteer manager’s time has been able to significantly increase cultivation and recruitment strategies rather than spending such an enormous amount of time on scheduling volunteers,” said Melanie McKean, Development Director, Preble Street
“We have seen a substantial decrease in “no shows” after implementing VolunteerHub.” Christina Mitchell, Director of Volunteers & Events, Metropolitan Ministries
“Volunteers have praised our organization for having an organized volunteer program and easy online registration process,” said Ellen Weaver, Volunteer Resources Manager, Central Texas Foodbank
Improved Scheduling Capabilities is Just One Benefit of Volunteer Management Software
The easiest way to optimize your nonprofits volunteer scheduling process is by investing in volunteer management software. Volunteer management software, like VolunteerHub, provides a streamlined scheduling solution, along with other features, that can be used to respond to change/increased need from COVID-19. These features include communication functionality, automated reports, CRM integration, and the ability to organize volunteer groups.
Even if your volunteer program is experiencing downtime, due to COVID-19, now is still a great time to optimize your scheduling process and prepare for the future. There is a chance your nonprofit could see a surge in need, post-pandemic, and have to respond quickly and efficiently. Implementing a streamlined volunteer scheduling solution will eliminate the barriers of a manual scheduling process, free-up valuable time, and increase volunteer engagement.