Home » Volunteer Scheduling: How to Boost Efficiency Using Tech
As a volunteer coordinator, you’re intimately familiar with the volunteer scheduling process. Whether you work with a nonprofit, school, or faith-based organization, you know that volunteers are critical contributors to the success of your mission, so it’s vital to have streamlined volunteer scheduling procedures.
You’re likely also aware of the challenges that accompany volunteer scheduling. The scheduling process involves many moving parts, from filling open volunteer slots to assigning volunteers to the best positions that match their skills. And if you’re using an outdated or overly complicated system, these moving parts can quickly become disorganized, leading to low volunteer retention rates or poor productivity.
This is where quality volunteer scheduling software comes into play. Get Connected has been helping volunteer coordinators organize their supporters more efficiently for over ten years. So we understand that when organizations leverage proper management techniques with the right software tools, they can keep their volunteer scheduling process running smoothly.
This guide will cover common pain points in the volunteer scheduling process and how you can use the latest technology to improve your scheduling approach. We’ll review:
Let’s dive in!
Although every organization is different, there are a few common volunteer scheduling techniques that most organizations use. While some organizations prefer traditional approaches to scheduling, others are switching to modern tools that empower volunteers to take control of the scheduling process. We’re going to review each of these strategies before exploring how technology can help simplify the process.
Creating a volunteer schedule and ensuring you have enough help to complete your projects is a major task. When managing volunteers and assigning shifts, you likely go through a process that looks like this:
After you’ve established processes for each of these steps, your next goal is to maintain volunteer support through stewardship efforts. Gestures such as thanking volunteers and requesting their feedback go a long way toward retaining their support for the long term, rather than just a one-time experience.
In an ideal scenario, each of these steps flows together for a seamless process for both volunteer coordinators and volunteers themselves. But without a deliberate, tech-driven strategy in place, you’ll probably run into several challenges, which we’ll discuss more later on.
Some volunteer programs require a top-down approach to scheduling while others need a more complex system for managing volunteer schedules.
Traditionally, volunteer coordinators have often taken the approach of gathering everyone’s schedules and coordinating all volunteers from the top down. This approach can be effective when planning small volunteer events or coordinating a volunteer day for a group of people.
However, coordinators who work with lots of volunteers may not have the time to manually align everyone’s schedules or sign up volunteers themselves.
Therefore, plenty of organizations that rely on volunteer help have turned to modern, self-scheduling approaches. Advancements in technology opened the doors to software systems that empower volunteers to choose their own shifts and roles. This means volunteer coordinators spend much less time managing the scheduling process and more time training and engaging volunteers.
Self-scheduling systems also offer convenience to volunteers because they can sign up at any time without having to contact the volunteer coordinator. This plays into volunteer retention — a clunky, inconvenient system is frustrating and could discourage them from volunteering with your organization in the future.
If you’re using an antiquated system, inefficiencies can happen whether you’re using the top-down or self-scheduling approach. No matter which approach is best for your organization, you need a comprehensive scheduling platform that boosts your efficiency and simplifies the process for volunteers.
If your organization still uses an outdated system that you’re not 100% satisfied with, you’ll likely run into several obstacles that make the scheduling process complicated or inefficient. These challenges may include:
If you’re using a system like an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Form to register volunteers, this will quickly become cumbersome as your volunteer program grows.
You may find yourself facing pages and pages of spreadsheet information or random Google Form submissions that lack all the information you need from volunteers, such as waiver signatures or volunteer history.
Also, it can be challenging to properly store all the information you need without a comprehensive volunteer database. A volunteer database will generate reports based on your volunteer data that provide a bird’s-eye view of your program.
If you use a system that can’t store volunteer data for the long term, you risk losing important contact information and volunteer preferences. This can make it challenging to keep volunteers engaged and updated on your ongoing activities.
Also, your current system may not be able to facilitate sending personal invites to volunteers for upcoming events. In contrast, a high-quality volunteer scheduling platform can retain information on volunteer history so you can reference volunteers’ previous activities and send more personalized invites.
Finally, without an updated communication system, you could be missing out on new trends such as equipping volunteers with an app that conveniently connects them with new opportunities.
You likely have a group of volunteers who work with your organization on a regular basis. Without a streamlined system, it becomes difficult to accommodate recurring shifts or other customized scheduling aspects.
This can lead to volunteer frustration or miscommunications, ultimately creating inefficiencies and wasting time when you have to figure out what went wrong and how to keep track of everyone’s customized schedules.
Instead, you need access to a centralized scheduler that both your staff and volunteers can view so everyone’s on the same page.
Without a comprehensive volunteer database that’s integrated with your registration software, it’s challenging to track volunteer preferences or notes about their unique skills. Both of these aspects can help you build a stronger relationship with your volunteers because you’ll be able to recognize and thank them for their specific contributions.
Plus, without an updated database, you might lose track of data on volunteers’ skills and schedule preferences, therefore making it difficult to request their help on projects that require specialized skills.
Conducting volunteer scheduling with a manual process can take up a lot of your time. The time you spend manually filling in volunteer schedules could be spent improving your volunteer program or working alongside volunteers to help them be successful instead.
Manual scheduling is not only burdensome, but it can also be inflexible. With a centralized volunteer scheduling platform, your entire team and volunteer base can access the online system any time and from anywhere.
These are a few common challenges we see with organizations that recruit volunteers, but with updated strategies and quality scheduling software, you can conquer these setbacks and improve the process for your team and your volunteers.
If you’re ready to leave outdated scheduling systems and inefficient processes in the past, volunteer scheduling software is the tool that can get your volunteer program where you want it to be.
Volunteer scheduling software is an online platform that coordinators can use to boost efficiency and manage volunteers much more easily and effectively.
This technology can help you:
When researching for the right volunteer scheduling software for your organization, search for a robust solution that can address your specific needs and requirements.
In this search process, it’s also important to consider your volunteer program as a whole and what other technology tools may benefit your organization as you grow. We recommend assessing your future goals for how you envision the program developing, and choosing a solution that not only manages scheduling but other aspects of volunteer engagement to consolidate your processes even more.
Volunteer management software can simplify your volunteer recruitment, management, and retention efforts. It can facilitate the process of building relationships with volunteers to retain their support over the long term.
Investing in a volunteer management platform not only gives your organization access to a scheduling solution but also the ability to:
The greatest benefit of volunteer management software is that it brings all aspects of your volunteer engagement strategy under one roof. Your volunteer database integrates your scheduling tool, communications platforms, and reporting system for seamless data transfers between each software tool. This saves your staff plenty of time by avoiding manual data input and allows you to maintain the accurate records you need to engage volunteers effectively.
After reviewing these features, one volunteer scheduling solution stands out: Galaxy Digital’s Get Connected.
Get Connected is a one-stop, all-in-one volunteer management solution that helps boost volunteer engagement, build long-term relationships, and track involvement.
With Get Connected, you can not only manage volunteer scheduling with all the features listed in the previous section but also:
It’s important to invest in a volunteer management system that grows with your volunteer program, saving you time and money in the long run. By investing in one dedicated solution from the start, you can learn the ins and outs of your volunteer management system and adjust to changes on the fly.
Volunteer scheduling doesn’t have to drain your organization’s time and resources. With the right technology solutions, you can streamline your scheduling process to provide a better experience for both your staff and volunteers.
If you’re interested in learning more about how volunteer management software, here are a few additional resources to check out:
Author: Addison Waters
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