When Do You Need Volunteer Management Software?

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Are you using the right board management software?

What about grant management?

Donation management?

Volunteer management?

What about management software management?

when need volunteer management software

OK, maybe I made up the last one (patent pending), but the point is that if you run a nonprofit, there’s a mindboggling number of software companies out there with hands outstretched, all claiming that only they have the magic tools to transform your clunky nonprofit into a philanthropic gold mine.

Take volunteer management, for example. The right volunteer management software can save you hours of scheduling and data input and bring in more volunteers, but how does that compare with how you currently track volunteers? Volunteer management software can:

  •  Track volunteer contact information, skills, hours, and availability
  •  Allow volunteers to schedule their own hours on your website
  •  Track where volunteers are in the orientation process
  •  Allow volunteers to access and update their own information
  •  Streamline communications between volunteers and staff
  •  Record expenses and reimbursements
  •  Match volunteers with opportunities, based on their qualifications and interests
  •  Run background checks when prospective volunteers sign up

As an alternative to standalone volunteer management software, many membership management products offer volunteer specific add-ons. These options allow you to manage your volunteers in the same place you manage all of your other relationships.

So how do you know if your volunteer management needs just a little boost (an add-on) versus a total overhaul (a standalone software solution)?

It all depends on whether your operations require basic or advanced features. Consult the list below and ask yourself which category best describes your needs.

1. Volunteer profile

· Basic: maintain a database including name, address, email, and phone number

· Advanced: maintain a database including skills, preferred opportunity type, required trainings, health or background screenings, and staff comments

2. Activity tracking

· Basic: create custom fields to track volunteer activity

· Advanced: out of the box ability to track dates and times volunteers work, tangible outcomes of the work, volunteer awards, number of hours completed that year, and reimbursements

3. Scheduling

· Basic: input schedules and sync with calendar

· Advanced: allow volunteers to define availability, then search by skills, interests, or qualifications to make for good matches

4. Email

· Basic: email, mail merge, mass text messages

· Advanced: collect data for personalized emails, use graphical templates and provide reports on who opens and clicks through to your site

5. Mailings

· Basic: ability to print mail merges and mailing labels from software

· Advanced: registration acknowledgements, thank-you letters, “Save the date,” renewals, built-in word processor and merge tools so you can write and send your letters in one place

6. Online features

· Basic: varies by system, most likely requires customization with your web developer

· Advanced: allow volunteers to manage their own information, edit their schedules, and sign up for shifts of projects on a volunteer portal on your site

Start by looking at the system you already have. Is it meeting all of your volunteer management needs? Could you benefit from an add-on that will give you more functionality while keeping your information in one place? What about a standalone system—could your organization improve with the help of advanced features?

Finally, look at your organizational priorities—if your organization depends upon volunteers, you could benefit tremendously from a standalone volunteer management system.

Capterra can help you with more information on volunteer management systems and with free help finding the right one for you.

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author

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Tiare Dunlap

Tiare Dunlap is a Software Analyst for Capterra, a company that loves connecting buyers and sellers of business software. She specializes in software for non-profits. When she’s not covering the industry, you can find her fidgeting, playing tennis, or reading (most likely on the metro--it's a long commute).

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