How Technology Can Help You Better Manage Your Volunteers

In the non-profit sector, technology has grown considerably; however, organisations as a whole are slow to adapt to these opportunities. With more and more businesses focusing their efforts on cloud-based technology and online channels, too many non-profits are getting bogged down by age-old practices and methodologies that hinder more than they help.

Gone are the days of cumbersome spreadsheets and filing cabinets. Instead, we’re spoiled with an abundance of easy-to-use tools that help keep our lives (and our jobs) organised. And this has never been more important when it comes to volunteer management.


So what keeps organisations from using volunteer management software?

Despite the technological boom, we’re still seeing organisations using table sheets and asking potential volunteers to download, print, complete and sign application forms. Attention spans are shorter than they were twenty years ago, and potential volunteers are more likely to get discouraged by unnecessarily long sign up processes. Imagine how many people give up and are no longer interested in volunteering because of the cumbersome steps that could have been simplified (for both parties). And you don’t want to be turning people off to the idea of donating their time to your cause.

As a volunteer, wouldn’t you prefer to look for opportunities, register for online shifts and receive email reminders — online? We know we would. So, what’s holding charities back from embracing the golden age of technology and simplifying their own workload? Below are five of the most common concerns and misconceptions non-profits have when it comes to online volunteer management – and ways to overcome them.

volunteer management software

1. Do we really need volunteer management software?

Software for volunteer management has been around for at least 15–20 years, yet only recently volunteer coordinators are now realising that there are all-in-one solutions. It makes more sense to find a dedicated solution that can do everything instead of hacking together multiple products. Not only does it save effort on your part and the part of your volunteers, it also reduces errors and improves the quality of the information you receive.

And don’t forget how much people are constantly connected with friends, family and organisations online. That’s how they learn about causes and build relationships with non-profits. As social media becomes more and more relevant to our daily lives, volunteers expect to be able to apply or sign up for opportunities straight from their laptops or smartphones.

Ultimately, volunteer management software there to help your organisation build an online and offline community.



2. We don’t want to change

We understand that change can be tough. People in your organisation may be set in their ways or happy with the status quo. In order to introduce a more efficient way to recruit and schedule volunteers, you may need to be an advocate for change. If the cost of the time you save outweighs the cost of the software, then the argument should be an easy one to make.

What do you spend most of your time doing as a Volunteer Manager? The first step is to identify what your current pain points are. Software should alleviate that burden or massively reduce the legwork it takes. Make sure the software you choose can check a majority of those boxes, or at least has a dedicated roadmap towards doing so.

3. We have a limited budget

Great news — there are many free solutions out there (especially if you don’t need advanced features). Investing in professional volunteer management software will take the pressure off you and your colleagues so that you can concentrate on what matters.

If the software you want comes at a cost, you should be able to give it a test drive, either with a free plan or a trial period. That’s really the only way you’ll find the right fit.

volunteer management budget sheets

4. We’re a small organisation and don’t think we will need this

There is a misconception that you must be a large organisation to benefit from digital management tools. If anything, it’s probably more beneficial because it takes less pressure off you to do manual work and gives you more time to focus on other responsibilities that are important to the business.

If you are a small group, volunteer management becomes even more essential to coordinate everything. It’s just a matter of finding the right one that fits your needs and your budget.



5. Our organisation faces regular employee turnover

It can be difficult if a department or leadership role is inconsistent. This is exactly where having volunteer management software can help. It will make the turnover workload easier to handle by keeping a record of voluntary commitments, forms and contact information. Having this information on a shared service will speed up onboarding and build trust with volunteers who will already expect you to know their history.

volunteer management employee turnover

So are you ready to embrace the digital age?

Your volunteer management software should save you and your organisation time while empowering your community to feel more committed, organised and happy. This should include:

  • The ability to schedule events and ongoing shifts
  • A volunteer database
  • An online portal where volunteers can sign up for opportunities
  • Auto-confirmations, invites, and reminders
  • Reports on volunteer time
  • Search and filters

Keep in mind that technology is just a tool, and it must be used effectively to reap the benefits. Managing volunteers with or without software can be overwhelming at times, but wouldn’t you want to put your trust into a product that has been designed to specifically help with the pain points?

Tags: technology, volunteer management

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About the author

Marsha Doucette

Marsha Doucette is the Head of Partnerships at Timecounts.

Prior to joining Timecounts, she worked in the non-profit space for over seven years. In her spare time, Marsha enjoys raising awareness for the environment through her startup Strawless Toronto, and scuba diving with sharks.