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Volunteer Scheduling: How to Boost Efficiency Through Technology

Anyone managing a team of volunteers will be intimately familiar with the scheduling process. In fact, volunteer scheduling might just be among your most time-consuming daily activities.

Of course, volunteers are also critical contributors to the success of your mission. That's why it's vital to have streamlined procedures in place for scheduling volunteers.

Especially if you are still relying on spreadsheets and or any kind of manual volunteer scheduling system, this is where the right software comes into play. In fact, volunteer management software like Get Connected can play a vital role in scheduling volunteers.

Why Do I Need Volunteer Scheduling Software?

Any effort to schedule volunteers takes time. Overlapping schedules and priorities will always be a challenge. Scheduling coordinator software can go a long way toward alleviating these issues while increasing efficiencies.

Some of the central benefits of a volunteer scheduling app or platform include:

  • A clear overview of the entire schedule, including open slots and individual volunteer schedules, on a single screen. 
  • Easy coordination of public and private volunteer opportunities for individuals and teams.
  • A systematic ability to schedule volunteers or send invites to submit their own schedule directly from the platform.
  • The ability to accommodate custom schedules and recurring shifts for individual volunteers.

Because of these benefits, online volunteer scheduling allows you to easily see gaps or overlaps in a schedule while also making that schedule custom enough for every individual who volunteers. Given that volunteers can be as young as 16 and as old as 70, this flexibility is crucial for any volunteer scheduler.

How a Sign-Up Scheduling Tool Can Improve on the Manual Spreadsheet Method

The right volunteer scheduling software can make all the difference, in part because of the system it likely replaces. If you still use a spreadsheet for scheduling volunteers, for example, you have likely run into at least one of these challenges:

  • Incomplete volunteer information, like missing waiver signatures or volunteer histories.
  • Outdated information, without the ability to update volunteer schedules depending on current needs.
  • Versioning concerns, considering the ease with which you or your volunteers might accidentally work off an older version of the sheet.
  • Communication difficulties, especially given the inability to store volunteer information long-term or send personalized invites to build the schedule.
  • A lack of ability to accommodate custom schedules, thanks to miscommunications and a static system you can't easily update.
  • Significant time investments each time the schedule needs to be updated, taking time away from more strategic volunteer management tasks.

With updated strategies and quality scheduling software, you can conquer these setbacks and improve the process for your team and your volunteers.

How to Schedule Volunteers Using a Volunteer Scheduling System

Every organization is different, but the right scheduling coordinator software can streamline the process of getting all your volunteers on the same page and filling any timing gaps. These 3 steps can help.

1. Creating a Plan for Scheduling Volunteers

The basic plan always has to come first. Start by creating a volunteer hours log that helps you understand exactly how much each member of the team can be expected to contribute. From there, follow a few steps to create the schedule: 

  1. Determine your scheduling needs, including both the tasks and times needed to accomplish those tasks.
  2. Identify roles, depending on whether all volunteers will be working on the same tasks or you're following a skills-based volunteering approach instead.
  3. Set your shift lengths, ranking from an hour or two to half or even full days. The tasks that need accomplished and your hours log can come in handy here.
  4. Build the registration process. A volunteer scheduling system should make this process easy, through online forms that feed directly into the platform.
  5. Promote your volunteer opportunities. With the schedule in place, reach out to your volunteers to let them know they can claim shifts. Social media, email, and even your website can become important channels.

In an ideal scenario, each of these steps flows together into a seamless process for both volunteer coordinators and volunteers themselves. The next step is optimizing your software for these steps.

2. Making the Most Out of Your Online Volunteer Scheduling Tool

This next step depends largely on the volunteer scheduling tool you choose. Each of them is slightly different, which means you'll need to familiarize yourself with the features available to you for true optimization.

Get Connected, for example, helps in the process of scheduling volunteers by focusing on transparency and efficiency above all while automating your communications to help volunteers set their schedule. Advanced features like reporting and multi-channel communication integrations can further help to simplify and optimize the scheduling process.

3. Integrating Your Volunteer Scheduler With Volunteer Management Software

Finally, it's crucial not to isolate your online volunteer scheduling system from the larger volunteer management software you use. In fact, a close integration can benefit your organization and efficiency in a wide range of ways: 

  • Create volunteer profiles that collect and store information such as contact information, skills, and volunteer history to personalize outreach and inform scheduling via skillset or available time.
  • Track volunteer hours as a courtesy for individuals who need volunteer logs to fulfill community service or school requirements, which also help you understand the future capacities of your team.
  • Facilitate communications with email and SMS tools to keep volunteers updated on any scheduling changes, including automated announcements and schedule reminders.
  • Generate customized and pre-built volunteer reports to assess the program's productivity and growth, analyzing what is working and what needs improvements.
  • Plan one-time and recurring volunteer opportunities based on need. Easily accommodate the preferences of both individuals and groups to ensure everyone has a good experience.

Scheduling, after all, is only a small component of the larger volunteer management process. A close integration can go a long way toward increasing efficiencies.

What is the Best Volunteer Scheduling Software?

Considering everything you need to keep in mind when evaluating scheduling coordinator software, one solution stands out: Galaxy Digital's Get Connected. As an all-in-one volunteer management solution, Get Connected includes all of the above benefits you need, plus a few added value features:

  • Integration with a free volunteer scheduling app that allows volunteers to track hours, check into shifts, and view their impact.
  • Access to volunteer profiles that provide insights into their preferences and skills, allowing you to personalize your outreach.
  • Automated communication with filters for different segments of volunteers and to create more relevant messaging.
  • Tracked volunteer waivers with the ability to store e-signatures and protect your organization from liability.
  • Managed group engagement, displaying team impact and personalizing large group communication.
  • Event management through custom landing pages, RSVPs, and event volunteers recruitment.
  • Volunteer impact assessments through reports to analyze marketing strategies, volunteer impact, and volunteer retention.

Invest in a volunteer management system that grows with your volunteer program, saving you time and money in the long run. With the right technology solutions, you can streamline your scheduling process to provide a better experience for both your staff and volunteers.

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