Volunteer management technology is constantly evolving, and we’re always gathering feedback to improve our solutions. We’ve been creating software in support of nonprofits since 2009, and have worked with thousands of Volunteer Coordinators, Executive Directors, and Outreach Specialists to better understand their needs. Over the years, we’ve gathered insight into the most valuable features nonprofit professionals look for in an ideal volunteer management software system. As you evaluate your next volunteer management software purchase, keep these essential features in mind:
1. Hours tracking and flexible reporting
As a community organization, it’s important to track and communicate your impact to generate enthusiasm from stakeholders, while sustaining support from volunteers and donors. Look for volunteer management software that has a reporting feature to help measure this impact, including volunteer hours logged and numbers of volunteers. Software with robust reporting capabilities will also help you gain a true understanding of your volunteers’ impact value.
Your organization may rely on grants to fund many of its operations. In order to secure these grants, it’s your job to supply precise data. Accurate reporting on the outcomes of your volunteer program provides supporters with evidence that you’re allocating resources appropriately and constantly working to uphold your mission.
Furthermore, comprehensive tracking and reporting capabilities will save you hours on administrative tasks, freeing you up to focus on building meaningful relationships. We spoke with Jamie Levia, Manager of Volunteer Resources at WaterFire Providence, a nonprofit arts organization, about her volunteer management software. She said, “The reporting [features] saves me 8 hours a week! All the reports I need are compiled for me, and are super organized.”
Tip: Find a software solution that includes robust, grant-focused reporting and custom report-building capabilities; customization is especially handy for each organization’s unique use-case.
2. Digitization and automation
There are plenty of reasons to upgrade from paper-based registration, check-in, and record keeping. An effective volunteer management software can take the place of nearly all your spreadsheets and filing cabinets, while saving you valuable time and resources. With the right system in place, you can ensure all your contact information, hours tracking, registration, waivers, and sign-ins are centralized, organized, and easily accessible. You’ll be able to decrease administrative time so that you can direct your efforts toward the people that help you drive change. Plus, you’ll do your part to cut down on paper waste!
3. Communication hub
Multi-channel communication is essential to maintaining real connections with volunteers. A software with CRM capabilities is an exceedingly useful tool for any coordinator; you should be able to send messages to volunteers directly from your platform, without having to build tedious email lists. Look for a software that allows you to filter your contact database based on a variety of options (by opportunity sign-ups, interests, availability, skills, qualifications, and more). You may want to explore additional features like mobile push notifications and social media shareability to keep your community in the loop and your volunteers engaged.
4. Volunteer interests/skills
Does your current volunteer management process capture volunteer interests and skills? Understand more about your volunteers, like the causes they support and the skills they can offer; you’ll be able to target communications and offer a more tailored user experience for each individual. Plus, your organization can provide informed opportunity suggestions, making it simpler for volunteers to find programs they’ll love. What’s more, you’ll find the right volunteers, based on their skills and passions, for each opportunity. When volunteers feel passionate about your cause, they’re more likely to become long-term supporters.
5. Centralized volunteer database
Your organization may oversee a variety of programs across multiple locations. A centralized database will ensure all program leads can manage their opportunities and volunteers accordingly while maintaining cohesiveness across your platform. In fact, it’s paramount that your software unifies all facets of your volunteer program–from your marketing efforts to hours tracking. A centralized database will ensure your volunteer contact information remains secure, your opportunities are easily accessible to volunteers, data tracking is live and accurate, and so much more, all so you can focus your resources on making real change in your community.
Click here to learn more about what WaterFire Providence uses to manage and grow their volunteer base.