According to a study by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, 49% of those who volunteer do so at least once a month.
This means it’s likely your organization has many different people coming in to volunteer on different days at different times—how do you keep track of them all? What is the best way to assign the right job to the right person and keep on top of what is being done and what has been completed? And how do you foster your relationships with your volunteers to keep them coming back?
Technology is the key to helping you form a great volunteer program. According to a study by the Pew Research Internet Project, 75% of all American adults participate and are active in a voluntary group or organization, and those who use the internet are more inclined than others to be active, with social media users being even more active.
So, what is the best technology for you to use for your volunteer program? Here is a list of the best tools for recruiting, managing, and keeping your volunteers.
Recruiting volunteers isn’t as simple as just finding anyone willing to help out for an afternoon—it’s more along the lines of matching the right people with the right skills needed by your organization specifically.
Here are the technologies to help you target just the right type of person to join your volunteer program
- Online recruiting platforms such as VolunteerMatch (free service), HandsOn Network (membership is $200-$2,000), and Idealist (free to sign up, create a page for your organization, search for opportunities, and post events and volunteer opportunities—for U.S.-based organizations it costs $80 for each job posted and $25 for each internship) are all great platforms that help you get your volunteer opportunities out into the public. They also contain other tools such as resource lists and free webinars.
- Social media is another great way to get your opportunities around the community and shared throughout—research some good hashtags, such as #VolunTweet on Twitter, look through LinkedIn’s “Volunteering & Causes” section, as well as utilizing Facebook for creating your organization page and announcing events.
Regardless of whether your organization is small or large, technology helps you to manage all of your volunteers. You will need to coordinate new volunteer training, current volunteer schedules, events, records, and keep in touch with current and past volunteers.
There are lots of technologies available to help you with managing and scheduling your volunteers, here are a few of them:
- Microvolunteering—this is where you can volunteer your time in bite-sized chunks and still be doing things to help out causes you find worthwhile. There are a few websites that provide these opportunities, such as Help From Home (free) and Koodo Nation (free). You can search through those and other microvolunteer websites to see if your organization has any tasks that can be accomplished by microvolunteers.
- Create a resource library to help with training your volunteers—you can provide training manuals and instructional videos that can help instruct your trainers on their own time. YouTube is a great way to create these videos.
- There are many volunteer management platforms and membership management platforms with volunteer management features that are highly functional and could be customized just for your organization (depending on your budget). Many membership management systems can also have great suggestions and insight on volunteer scheduling and time tracking.
- If you just need a database, instead of using spreadsheets use a basic database software. Berrin Sun of Ragic, Inc. says that when organizations use spreadsheets to track their information, it “gets out of hand pretty fast.” She mentions that as lots of nonprofit organizations and charities don’t have the budget to buy expensive software, many database software companies give a discount for nonprofits.
Once you’ve recruited your volunteers, trained them, scheduled them, and they’re in the system, you need to focus your attention on retention. Just because they’ve completed their job doesn’t mean that your work is done! The relationship you have with your volunteers should be continuous.
Let your volunteers know how important they are to your organization and how much their work and time has had an impact on it. Doing this maintains your relationship with them, and means they are likely to come back, and even to talk more about their volunteer experiences and about your organization to their friends, which in turn will bring even more people to volunteer for you. There are some great tools to help you with your volunteer relationships:
- Social media is a great way to thank your volunteers and keep in contact with them regularly—post pictures and give examples of the great work your volunteers have done on Flickr, use Facebook to thank them, and use your blog to tell stories of their successes.
- Create email lists so that you can keep in touch with your volunteers via email and send them news and information—some free volunteer management systems let you filter and build email lists that can then be copied into your email program, such as YourVolunteers.
Know of any other great tools for recruiting, managing, and retaining volunteers? Add them in the comments below!
Looking for Volunteer Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Volunteer Management software solutions.