If you’re struggling to manage your volunteer program with Excel spreadsheets, manual emails, and shared Google Docs… you’re not alone.
A new report from nonprofit technology review firm Software Advice shows that only 7% of small nonprofits (nonprofits with an annual budget of less than $1 million) use formal volunteer management software. This is understandable. With tight budgets and even tighter schedules, who has time to search for new systems?
If you’re struggling with your current systems… you should make time.
Why? A common reason that nonprofits eventually search for better methods is that they start to lose volunteers, or receive complaints about their current system. Don’t wait until you get to this point. Make your processes as easy as possible to keep your volunteers as happy as possible.
Some nonprofits also report that they spend more time managing their systems than actually getting things done. Sound familiar?
Ok, so you’ve determined you should improve your volunteer management system. Now what?
- Understand why you want a new system.
Are you part of the 25% of small nonprofits that want to improve the accuracy of your data? Do you want to have proof of your volunteer program’s impact? Maybe you want to lessen your response time to potential volunteers. Determining your reasons will help you find the right software.
- Create a list of your must-haves.
Before you start searching, you need to know what you’re looking for. 93% of the nonprofits surveyed by Software Advice site tracking hours and activities as the most important functionality to them. But maybe for your nonprofit, it’s more important to have easy-to-manage volunteer shift scheduling.
Make a list of the most important features your new volunteer management software should have, ranked in order of importance. This will help your search.
- Do your research.
Don’t jump into a commitment with a new software vendor because it’s the cheapest, or because you know someone else who uses it (and loves it!) A cheap solution could potentially cost you more in time spent managing it, and what works for another organization won’t necessarily work for yours. Invest in your research upfront so that you save time and money in the long run.
- Don’t be afraid of change.
If something’s not working, don’t stick with it just because it’s a hassle to change. This is true of many things, and volunteer management is no exception. Technology is invaluable for nonprofits, and finding the right technology for your nonprofit is the most valuable of all.