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8 Reasons Volunteer Leaders are Saying Goodbye to Spreadsheets 

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If you’re using a tangle of excel spreadsheets, word docs, and pen and paper sign-in sheets to manage volunteerism, you’re not alone.

As your volunteer program grows, this hodgepodge of tools can become more and more cumbersome. This issue has led many volunteer leaders to search for a better solution.

Here are the 8 reasons that volunteer leaders are saying goodbye to spreadsheets and are moving forward with volunteer management software. 

Reasons Volunteer Leaders are Choosing Volunteer Management Software Over Spreadsheets

1. Spreadsheets Slow Down Volunteer Engagement

Volunteer engagement can be time-consuming, especially if it’s spread across multiple locations, or if you’ve been using an array of spreadsheets or other tools to track volunteer information. When it’s time to communicate with volunteers, many program managers spend hours organizing and cleaning up this data before they can even contact their supporters.

Volunteer management software has a host of engagement features that make engagement easier for volunteer leaders. For instance, many volunteer management solutions offer email blast capabilities. With this tool, volunteer leaders can filter by volunteer data, build targeted lists based on availability, donation history, interests or skills, and certifications, and then send an email to volunteers. Rather than spending hours collecting this data from spreadsheets, managers can focus more on their messaging (some software even offers ready-to-go email templates!)

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2. Manual, Offline Processes Hinder Volunteer Programs’ Growth 

It is no easy feat to grow a volunteer program. Volunteer managers have traditionally grown their programs through newspaper ads, flyers, or word-of-mouth recruitment. But nowadays, these offline processes won’t cut it. Volunteer leaders must focus on reaching people online if they want to grow their programs.

Put simply, data spreadsheets are not a replacement for a volunteer website. In order to grow a volunteer program, your website should list volunteer opportunities and allow for online sign-up or registration.

Digital volunteer recruitment is easy when you have dedicated volunteer management software in place. Over time, software can help you grow a volunteer pool with specialized skills and diverse availability, and then retain them over time. 

Volunteer management software can help grow your program by: 

  • Promoting opportunities 
  • Sharing your organization’s story
  • Targeting the right volunteer for the job
  • Matching volunteers based on their preferences, skills, and interests

3. Volunteer Leaders Save Time with Software

Volunteer leaders are often faced with the challenge of having too little time in the day to complete key parts of the volunteer management process. That’s where software comes in. Software can help you automate key parts of the volunteer lifecycle, generate templated reports, filter for volunteer availability, organize volunteers into groups and shifts, and more.

Volunteer management software will also help you save time with:

  • Record-keeping
  • Communication
  • Reporting

What Is Volunteer Management Software?

Volunteer management software encompasses many tools that volunteer leaders need to organize volunteer opportunities, events, and reporting. It helps volunteer programs do everything from recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers all from a single platform.

Volunteer managers can use software for:

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4. Spreadsheets Are Error-Prone

Many volunteer leaders use spreadsheets because they’re inexpensive and easy to use. Some managers even like the perceived convenience of an Excel or Google spreadsheet. But it’s so easy for something to go terribly wrong when using spreadsheets to run your volunteer program.

One of the most inefficient parts of running a volunteer program with spreadsheets alone is the risk of inaccurate or lost data. When using spreadsheets to track your volunteer program, it’s easy to accidentally delete or overwrite data, misspell names, type incorrect contact information, etc. Unless you’re using a spreadsheet for something like accounting or finance, you’re really using a tool that was simply built for another purpose. And with that, comes pitfalls.

Program managers are using volunteer management software to solve the following problems:

  • Typos
  • Lost information
  • Duplicate information
  • Double scheduling volunteers
  • Donation mismanagement 

5. Spreadsheets Lack Security

As a volunteer program manager, there is a lot of important volunteer data and information that you need to securely organize and store. After all, your volunteers’ privacy is of the utmost importance.

Spreadsheets pose a security risk because they can be easily hacked and are often unencrypted. This has led volunteer leaders to choose a more secure option that protects their volunteer’s personal information.

Volunteer management software is a cloud-based solution where staff and volunteers can safely share, access, and compile information. Data should be stored and hosted with one of the leading data center providers in the world, like Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

It's best to find a solution that offers data safety through:

  • Clustering
  • Load-balancing
  • Replication
  • Single Sign-On authentication (SSO)
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6. Data Isn’t Backed Up

In addition to the security risk involved in using spreadsheets to store volunteer data, another issue is that your data is not typically backed up. Unlike cloud-based volunteer management software, you risk losing everything if your computer crashes.

7. Leaders Need a Better Way to Communicate Volunteer Impact

Most volunteer managers are in charge of accurately communicating volunteer impact to their communities, donors, and board of directors. If you’re having trouble compiling impact data from spreadsheets, you are not alone.

A common reason that volunteer leaders ditch spreadsheets and choose volunteer management software is so that they can better share their program’s impact in a visually appealing, holistic way.

Software allows managers to quickly pull reports and understand how many volunteers they have and the hours they’ve served. Many software solutions can even quantify the impact value of volunteer hours or skills donated. Volunteer leaders can then use this data to gauge their progress toward goals and effectiveness in the community.

8. It's Difficult to Train Staff and Collaborate with Others Using Spreadsheets

When organizations onboard new employees, attempting to collaborate with staff members through spreadsheets is often inefficient, overwhelming, and confusing. Often, each volunteer leader has their own unique system for managing their spreadsheet, which makes connections across teams difficult. 

How to Choose the Right Volunteer Management Software for You

While spreadsheets are an essential first step in tracking information, most volunteer leaders will eventually reach the point where they are just too time-consuming and take time away from more important tasks. Software is a must for volunteer programs in the current digital landscape, in terms of both ease-of-use and risk management.

But, we know that navigating technology can be daunting for organizations and volunteer leaders. So, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to choosing the best volunteer management software

By finding an all-in-one volunteer management solution, you will increase volunteer management, grow long-lasting relationships with volunteers, and accurately track volunteer impact.

Need help with volunteer registration, recruitment, and engagement? Get Connected has a solution for every organization, program size, and budget.
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