Better manage volunteers through software tools

Technology / Friday, August 15th, 2014

Think of the time you spend on electronics during a single day: The cell phone for breaks at work, the laptop for news at home, the tablet for games with the kids. Now think of how much the 30-and-under generation utilizes these tools. Yeah, it’s a lot more.

And while too much technology can be a bad thing, embracing it with moderation can be a great thing. My point here is not to state something we already know. Moreover, it’s to point out something we are missing. To be even more clear, to point out something nonprofits are missing.

For decades, charitable organizations have managed their volunteer operations the same way. Donor mailings, volunteer sign-ups, recruitment pamphlets; a lot of organizations are still paper everything, which is okay. But it’s not the direction that society is heading and nonprofits are beginning topay the price for its lack of foresight, both financially and statistically.

Let me shoot some stats your way:

  • Over 75% of the leading nonprofits are engaged in tech planning and adoption.
  • Inversely, over 50% of struggling nonprofits are not engaged in tech planning and adoption.
  • The average technology budget is 5% of a nonprofit’s total budget.
  • Nonprofits of all sizes averaged a Tech Effectiveness Score (TES) of 18.27 out of 30, in terms of analyzing their technology and making effective decisions.

Stats According to

The numbers don’t lie. Our culture is going digital and to keep up, nonprofits need to as well in some form or fashion. So, here are four ways to do just that and better manager volunteers through software platforms.

1. To start, locate an appropriate system that fits your organization’s needs.

If you want to automate donations, fundraise, organize volunteers and spark volunteerism there are many software systems out there for you. Or if you are looking for an all encompassing volunteer management system, try the company I work for, VolunteerMark. Whatever way you end up going, make sure you research and define what your goals are. Then find the software that best fits you!

2. Once you have the software selected, start simple and grow from there.

In the opening weeks, just use your shiny new toy with one or two programs. Once you get the hang of it, expand the operations to your other programs. Before long, you will be out of the paper business all together which will save you time and money. Or, if you still wish to have some of the operations paper based, that’s fine too. As long as you find the right balance and don’t rush into anything too drastically, you’ll do fine.

3. So you have a new management system and feel comfortable using it.

Now is the time to let everyone know. Do so by expanding your outreach through emails, tweets and posts. Mailchimp is a great application that allows you to mass communicate for free. HootSuite is a similar free application that you can utilize to operate all your social media outlets under one umbrella. Share the news with everyone that people can now get involved through the avenues they enjoy most.

4. Finally, stay committed to the software.

Learning new things is not easy, and that can be especially true with technology. Be patient and be ready to fail. It’s the only way to learn and before long, it all will come very easy. Whether you like it or not, a new era of volunteer management is here, and you can either choose to embrace today, or do so tomorrow.

As you see, this can be a lot to wrap your head around. Don’t fret, I want you to see the astonishing statistics regarding nonprofit technology, and use the steps above to establish a successful online presence. If your nonprofit can master technology, it can master fundraising, volunteer management, donations and recruitment. Take the initiative and success will find you.