Volunteer management is incredibly rewarding work, though it’s not without challenges. As a volunteer coordinator, you’re in charge of assigning qualified volunteers to appropriate roles, facilitating background checks, keeping track of volunteer shifts, and much more. Often, volunteer managers are wearing so many hats that they may actually be doing the work of several employees in their organization.
A key to managing the workload is to leverage technology to create a succinct, automated volunteer registration process. By implementing the right system, volunteer managers can gather the necessary information from volunteers from the very beginning. When volunteer managers empower their volunteers to take these steps on their own, they regain several hours every day for other tasks.
In this article, we’ll cover the ways you can use technology to streamline your volunteer registration process, and what you should look for in your own tool.
- The benefits of an automated volunteer registration process
- Collect the right volunteer data from the very beginning
- Use customizable volunteer management software
- Use the data for smart volunteer management
- Additional Volunteer Registration Management resources
The benefits of an automated volunteer registration process
First, let’s cover the benefits of an automated volunteer registration process. For many in nonprofit management, keeping track of paper volunteer registration forms is a big, messy task. Manual data collection is not only inefficient, but it represents an unnecessary risk; hard copies of volunteer information can get damaged or lost, which can hinder your ability to engage with your volunteers later on.
Rather, an automated volunteer registration process is the safer, faster way to manage volunteer signups. Most automated registration systems store volunteer information in a cloud-based database. This reduces your risk of data loss or breach. By adopting an automated system, volunteer managers can limit time spent on tedious administrative tasks, and collect better data while they’re at it.
If you’re ready to go paperless, keep in mind the information you’ll need to collect as you digitize your volunteer registration process:
Collect the right volunteer data from the very beginning
It takes longer to correct a record than it does to get it right the first time. In order to streamline your electronic registration process, you should aim to collect as accurate and as relevant information as possible from the very beginning.
So what volunteer data should you collect?
At a minimum, your volunteer registration form should request basic contact information from the volunteer. Ask for their name, phone number, and email address. Then, ask yourself what phase your program is in. If your program is expanding, you may want to take it a step further and collect more in-depth information from volunteers, such as their preferred time commitment (for example, recurring or only for events). You can then use this information to more carefully curate your volunteers’ experience later on.
Next, consider any additional, pertinent information you want about your program. For instance, you might ask volunteers to upload their state-issued ID card if they’re going to work with vulnerable populations. If you manage skilled volunteerism, you should ask for volunteers’ qualifications or certifications during registration. By requesting this information during the registration process, you save time filtering through paper applications looking for qualified candidates for your volunteer opportunities.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to the types of data you may need for future grant applications. Grantors often request specific data in order to get a clear image of your organization’s support and impact. By automating some of this volunteer data collection, you’ll save time on your grant applications and year-end reporting later on.
Here are some additional pieces of volunteer data that you might collect during the volunteer registration process:
- t-shirt size
- Interests and skills
- Personal pronouns
Use customizable volunteer management software
Contactless volunteer registration has been rising in popularity in recent years, but it’s now a necessity following the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, online volunteer registration is flexible, convenient, and a real time-saver!
Volunteer management software is the best way to streamline your volunteer registration process. Choose a volunteer management software that allows you to customize your volunteer registration form. Keep your form clean and simple; only ask volunteers the most important questions. Finally, make sure to include a link to your volunteer registration form on your nonprofit’s website. Look for a volunteer management software that can be customized enough to maintain brand consistency between the registration form and website.
Need help beginning your software search? Check out VolunteerPro’s roundup of the best volunteer management software on the market.
Leverage your data for smart volunteer management
Once you’ve streamlined your volunteer registration form with volunteer management software, it’s time to start leveraging your volunteer data. By reviewing the data you’ve collected, you can make informed decisions about volunteer management and engagement. When you incorporate technology into your volunteer registration process, you empower your organization to do the following:
- Engage more personally with volunteers. If you have collected each new registrant’s name and email address, you can start reaching out to them in a personalized manner. People love the personal touch of an email addressing them by name, and it goes a long way in cultivating volunteer engagement.
- Find the right volunteer for the job. Filter the information you’ve collected from your registration form to sort your volunteers. Run reports to see who among them possess the skills you’re looking for, then send them a personalized email inviting them to join. This is why it is important to keep future use-cases in mind when you’re creating your registration form.
- Regularly communicate with volunteers. By digitizing your volunteer data early on, you allow yourself to harness the power of automated communication. Look for a volunteer management software, like Get Connected, that has a built in email blast tool for the ultimate streamlined workflow. If you have gathered information about your volunteers’ skills, you can use that information to market upcoming volunteer opportunities or events that they would find interesting.
- Easily build reports for stakeholders. Segment your volunteers and build reports based on volunteer data. Filter your data and easily create reports that will help you evaluate your program’s impact, understand your volunteer’s interests, and track your program’s progress.
Although every organization is different, there are a few best practices for using technology to streamline volunteer registration. While some organizations prefer traditional, manual techniques, others are leveraging the power of technology to create automated volunteer registration processes.
When organizations invest energy into finding the right system, volunteer managers can save hours of administrative time, so they can focus on what’s important: making a positive impact in their community.