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Want to Streamline Volunteer Scheduling? Here’s Some Golden Advice

Any nonprofit's biggest asset is the people who make the magic happen. In an era of increasing costs and changing priorities, organizations need to sharpen their focus on streamlining the schedules of their unsung heroes - the dedicated volunteers! With the help of the latest technology, nonprofits can put in place an effective volunteer scheduling system.

What Is Volunteer Scheduling? 

Volunteer scheduling is the process that focuses on the organizer of a program defining a schedule of when a particular volunteering event can happen – either in dedicated time slots or shifts, during a specific time period, by deadlines, or as soon as possible.  

When a nonprofit or organizer lists a volunteering opportunity, they are the ones who know which of the above options makes the most sense for that given opportunity. After deciding on it, the organizer specifies the time considerations for the project. 

Then, eligible volunteer participants know exactly when something takes place, so they can make their own decisions about whether it is appropriate for them to sign up to participate.

The point of volunteer scheduling and volunteer management system is to automate all facets - right from the time of posting an opportunity, throughout the engagement lifecycle, to the point feedback is collected.

Why is Scheduling Essential?

Creating streamlined volunteer schedules is essential because your volunteers are carving time out of their busy week to assist you in making your project a success. Since these individuals are doing unpaid work, you ultimately compete with the needs of their careers, families, and even unwind time. 

Therefore, when scheduling your volunteers’ shifts and duties, you must be attentive to their unique needs and preferences. Their time is precious, and you must respect their commitment to your outreach by defining what they’re responsible for achieving within a set timeframe.

Role of Technology

An effective, tech-powered volunteer scheduling system honors your volunteers' hard work and passion for your mission. By utilizing the best-in-class tools, such as Golden’s volunteer management and scheduling platform, you can show your volunteers that you respect their time, skills, talent, and empathy. 

Using Golden for scheduling ensures that your volunteers show up on time, follow dedicated tasks and benchmarks, and ultimately produce results that will help you achieve your goals.

Cut Overcrowding, Improve Work Stream

Well-formed volunteer schedules also minimize overcrowding, facilitate a smooth work stream, and enable your paid staff to focus on more pressing issues.

When you have an effective volunteer scheduling system, you show your volunteers that their time matters and even show them how their work benefits your community outreach directly!

Why Should I Care About Volunteer Schedules?

It’s essential to highlight how volunteer scheduling reduces the number of no-shows while simultaneously utilizing unpaid workers effectively and demonstrating they have a distinct purpose on your team. 

Let’s look at two good reasons why you should take scheduling seriously.

To Let Quality Talent Flourish

No one wants to feel like they’re taking up space and wasting their precious time. Show your team your commitment to their productivity by implementing our volunteer scheduling platform. It will help your volunteers clearly understand shifts, the day's goals, and how they will help contribute to your cause.

Maintaining volunteer schedules using intelligent technology such as Golden volunteer management platform eliminates the threat of doubling-booking time slots, not having the right number of volunteers for a given project or day, or potential conflicts of interest. 

To Motivate Them to Come Back to You

When processes are complex, volunteers can show up at inopportune times or fail to work cohesively. If you make it challenging to know what is expected of a volunteer and when, you risk losing their focus or even to a competing nonprofit. 

Keeping each of your volunteers satisfied will build upon their connection to your work and ensure they come back to assist you again and again while spreading news of your impact on their social network. 

2 Types of Scheduling: Traditional vs. Tech-driven

The two most common scheduling styles are the traditional and modern approaches. The conventional or top-down method where one or a select few authorize the final schedule is a good choice for organizations that prefer to run the show from the top. But a risk arises when the gatekeepers leave, and there is a break in the communication flow. 

The modern or self-scheduling method relies on intelligent volunteer management software, which places more autonomy in the volunteers' hands to identify what works best for them, while volunteer coordinators can follow their decisions, work and offer guidance as required.  

Connect With Your Volunteers (The Midas’ Touch!)

Having set up a schedule using a tech platform, it's crucial to regularly check in on your volunteers to keep your volunteer management running smoothly. Seek feedback from your volunteers via the tool from time to time to see how you can better meet their needs and concerns. If you use a tried-and-tested platform such as Golden, that's easy. 

Ask Questions, Appreciate Them

Are they getting enough variety in assignments? Are they looking for projects with more growth potential? Do they have the supplies or guidance they need to be successful? It’s essential to ask these questions.

Finally, make it a point to freely express appreciation and recognize the hard work being accomplished through their welcome efforts. When volunteers get meaningful recognition, they remain inspired and will prioritize allocating time to make it to your next event!

Using Golden for Scheduling: How it Works

Using Golden’s volunteer management system for scheduling is easily the most effective way of making things work out. No wonder it’s the world’s most awarded volunteer platform! Let’s examine precisely how the scheduling process works on Golden’s platform. 

Let’s say a volunteering event is coming up that will take place online or on-site. Once the organizer specifies when and where it will happen and how much availability there is for a given time slot, shift, or period, the system will automatically show only the opportunities available for the chosen parameters.  

For example, if there is a shift that only requires 10 people, and 10 volunteers have already signed up in advance, then that slot is displayed as full. Golden’s volunteer management and scheduling system lets the organizer choose whether they would like to propose other available shifts to volunteers automatically - such as the next available one - or keep a waitlist, provide VIP access, or expand participation. 

You can also set additional capacities for different sessions of the same event. Consider a capacity of five volunteers at 10am, 10 at noon, and unlimited participants at 3pm.

No-Shows? No Problem

When a volunteer is registered for an opportunity but cancels the registration before the activity begins, the volunteer scheduling system automatically makes that spot available for another eligible volunteer.

Suppose volunteers are able to bring guests to the opportunity, and the opportunity has a capacity limit. In that case, each of those guests, specified by the volunteer, counts as one registered volunteer. So if a session has a capacity of five and a volunteer registers four guests, then that session is at capacity as long as nobody else previously signed up.  

But if two other people already registered for it, then this particular volunteer would either be able to bring only two guests, or two guests could join and the other two would be placed on a waitlist.

Benefits of Using a Volunteer Scheduling System

There are several benefits to using a best-in-class volunteer scheduling system like Golden. 

    1. Give Volunteers a Seamless Experience 

When an effective and user-friendly software is in place, volunteers have a seamless experience where they can see only the times or sessions of an opportunity that are upcoming, for which they are qualified to participate and have remaining capacity.

    2. No Need for Manual Coordination

The organizer does not have to manually take up the work of coordinating with volunteers to communicate when spots are available, if the volunteers can make it to the event, or to confirm if a volunteer intends to attend it - after signing up, but before the session begins.

    3. Automatically Keep Track of Activities

Volunteer scheduling systems can also automatically track who attended the event, how much time they spent, the value of the time spent, who they brought with them, how much work was completed (for example, the total number of trees planted or meals served), the feedback from the organizer and participants, photos taken on site, and more.

     4. Access the Software from Any Device

A volunteer scheduling system such as Golden works on all devices, such as desktops with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera, and all other leading web browsers using mobile responsive websites; native mobile apps for iOS/iPhone and Android; communications via email, SMS text, push notifications; and API integrations with other software systems of note, including CRMs like Salesforce, Blackbaud, Microsoft Dynamics, and others.

     5. Signups are Quick and Easy
            Volunteering signups using Golden’s platform are a snap with link generators that work with SMS, email, and social media apps. You                  can also import contact lists.

Benefits of Using a Volunteer Scheduling System

Use Tech to Tackle these Scheduling Challenges

Many unexpected complications arise when trying to adhere to volunteer management best practices. Read on to discover a few common scheduling obstacles and how technology can help you side-step them.

  1. Outdated Registration Process

    A cumbersome registration system can take the fun out of volunteering. Recruiting volunteers is a competitive process. These dedicated givers, often on the lookout for volunteer platforms, are highly in demand with many external time constrictions.

    Minimizing the steps required to sign up for an event is essential. When volunteers have greater control of registration, they’ll prefer to sign up with you regularly.
  1. Failure to Communicate Effectively

        Volunteers want to know if their efforts are meaningful to you. Your team can show them their actual value through clear and concise              communication. It’s important to set distinct duties and expectations, and make it simple to share event listings. 

        It is also helpful to plan a recognition process to acknowledge each volunteer’s efforts after their shift is over and seek feedback.                        Technology can make these processes easy.

  1. Not Paying Attention to Volunteer Needs

        Every volunteer is unique and has to deal with navigating pressure. Golden’s software has the provision to edit slots without seeking                prior authorization from the organizer. Having the ability to swap shifts quickly streamlines schedule management. 

        It is also helpful to compile participant profiles, which can be best done using a platform such as Golden. By knowing your most reliable          talent, you can create impactful experiences for them that further endears them to your cause and outreach. Knowing more about your          volunteers can maximize retention in your nonprofit. 

  1. Not Keeping Track of Service Hours

        Recording volunteer hours logged into your donor database is often overlooked. Having updated volunteer data logs, including service          hours, makes it feasible for you to apply for volunteer grant funds. It will require you to document volunteer hours as a part of your                    application as recurring proof you are suitably bookmarking grant funds.  

        With intelligent volunteer management software, you can organize your tracked data into dashboards that inform a team of the                          schedule, open slots, overlaps, and recurring patterns - all on a single screen. Such processes are tedious without technology.

  1. Not Learning from Success and Obstacles

         Every opportunity gives us the chance to learn and help plan for future outreaches. After your event, it is crucial to gauge success and             opportunities for improvement. The reporting function in your volunteer management software will come in handy here.

         Volunteer scheduling reports enable you to see program efficacy and chart strategic growth strategies. Reports allow your team to                   track volunteer recruitment, retention, and feedback via survey returns and event satisfaction matrices.

What to Look for in a Volunteer Scheduling Tool (Golden Ticks All the Boxes!)

It can be tough to sort through all the volunteer management tools in the market today. We’ve done the hard work for you and have listed the features that you should ensure your scheduling software has. Golden ticks all the boxes! 

  1. Live Inventory of Events

         Ensure that the software has a dashboard, like the one Golden offers, which gives you a live inventory of your nonprofit's events, a                     program's schedule, and the skills and availability for your volunteer pool. 

  1. Intelligent Pairing of Talent and Task

         The platform should make it easy for you to sort through your database to find skilled and reliable volunteers who show up on time                   and  complete all tasks. The technology should be able to sort the qualifications and skills of your volunteers to pair them with suitable           events. 

         Golden’s partnerships with Blackbaud, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, and HandsOn Connect CRMs let you automatically track                       volunteer signups, attendance, hours, and feedback. 

  1. Quick Registration

         Have you ever had an event suddenly requiring more help than anticipated? A sound tech tool should help you with that! It should                     empower its users to allow anyone to share links worldwide to public and private events. People can simply click on the link and                           instantly register.

  1. Closed Loop Messaging

         Are you tired of endless emails and phone calls? A trusted platform ensures you can request and receive communications from your                 partners only when you most need them. 

  1. Seamless Integration of Calendar

         All your volunteers can know precisely when to show up for their shift and how long it will last with the software’s seamless                                   integration  with Calendar. Golden stands out here as it integrates with calendar apps from Microsoft, Google, Android, Apple, and                     more. 

  1. Automatic Check-In, Check-Out

       People are busy, so maximizing every segment of a service event is vital. With a software’s ability to automatically check in and check               out volunteers, you can be assured that more time can be allocated to improving your community.

  1. Live Visualization

        Onsite manual recordkeeping is becoming a thing of the past. The software dashboard, such as the one Golden offers, provides live                    visualization of current event trends, allowing entire teams to stay on the same page.

  1. Real-Time Updates

        Things can change quickly during an event. Perhaps a task requires a different set of skills than expected earlier, or you need to alert                your team about inclement weather. In a matter of seconds, you should see the developments and take action to get a grip on things -              that’s a feature the software must have. 

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Pandemic, Volunteerism, and the Need for Technology

When it comes to scheduling tasks for a vast pool of volunteers, manual processes are a thing of the past. It is vital you incorporate volunteer scheduling software into your plans.

Golden can be your trusted partner. Its software goes beyond scheduling shifts to qualitatively outlining duties based on the unique needs and concerns of each and every volunteer.

Today, over 1 billion people worldwide volunteer, with roughly 25% of Americans taking part in at least one event. Everyone is looking to carve time out of their busy schedule to improve the lives of people in their community. 

The way people think about volunteering has changed since the pandemic struck. Today, three-fourths of Americans feel volunteerism will become bigger and better in a post-Covid world. It goes without saying that tech tools that streamline volunteer scheduling will become more relevant in the days to come.