Managing volunteers more effectively with the nonprofit cloud

The Client

NL Cares, a Netherlands based organization, offers flexible volunteer work for individuals and the business community. Volunteers participate in an activity when it is most convenient and choose something that is most suitable for them. This helps the volunteers get in touch with people that need extra support, such as children and youth in disadvantaged situations, the elderly, migrants, homeless people and people with disabilities. Volunteer work at NL Cares is accessible, inspiring and encourages volunteers to meet others to broaden their view of the world.

Challenges

NL Cares offers a plethora of volunteer activities every day, across all major cities in the Netherlands. Potential volunteers signup on their website for activities ranging from helping package food at a food bank, cooking for the elderly and garden clean-ups to participating at the evening school for people with mental disabilities. Volunteers can choose the activities that resonate the most with their personal beliefs, at a time that is convenient for them.

Inefficient Registration Process

Creating and managing an events calendar with numerous events per day brought its own set of challenges for NL Cares. These challenges were made even more difficult by the fact that their website, which housed their events signup calendar, was not properly integrated into their Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system.

“We try and offer as many volunteer opportunities per day as we possibly can. Sometimes this can mean 10, 15 or even 20 events on the calendar for any given day. Each of those opportunities can fit anywhere from 1 to 10 volunteers. While our old website was integrated into Salesforce, it was not functioning correctly. This made for inefficient tracking of our volunteers,” said Stefanie Korstanje, Operations Manager for NL Cares.

Salesforce Wasn’t Optimized for Volunteer Management

NL Cares was using Salesforce for a few years prior to the engagement with Cloud for Good, however, it was not optimized to drive value for the organization.

“Before we engaged with Cloud for Good, we’d rely on volunteers who were familiar with the Salesforce platform to make any of the updates and optimizations we required. Working with a partner like Cloud for Good enables us to work on long term improvements,” said Astrid Wassenaar, Director of NL Cares. “We didn’t have the platform knowledge or resources to go back in and make the needed updates ourselves.”

This lack of Salesforce resources meant that NL Cares couldn’t communicate with their volunteers as effectively or in the automated way that they wanted. Frequently they found that automations, like welcome emails, weren’t sending when new volunteers were added. Existing volunteers didn’t receive an enrollment confirmation when they signed up for new activities, as well, leading to confusion among the volunteers. NL Cares saw increased phone traffic from volunteers questioning if they were signed up and confirmed for their events.

Even more problematic was in the case an event was canceled, notifications were not always sent to the volunteers. This created problems when volunteers would show up to canceled activities. NL Cares needed to be confident in the way they communicated and managed their volunteers to help build trust within their community.

The Solution

Managing Volunteers with Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S) Application

When NL Cares teamed up with Cloud for Good, one of the first things they needed to do was evaluate the data architecture and structure of their current Salesforce instance and augment it for volunteer management.

“After Cloud for Good’s discovery process, we realized we needed a better way to track our volunteers and events all from one place. With their extensive knowledge of the Salesforce platform they recommended V4S as a solution to effectively manage our volunteers,” Wassenaar recalls.

V4S is a component of the Nonprofit Cloud platform. It uses a combination of Salesforce Standard and Custom Objects to build out the perfect volunteer management solution. V4S enables NL Cares to track initial volunteer sign-up, which events they volunteer for and helps them manage their relationships with their volunteers.

NL Cares can create jobs that they need on a recurring basis as well as schedule volunteers that have committed their time on a recurring basis.

NL Cares can now create mass actions to email volunteers and edit volunteer hours using Salesforce and their website. The package also enables NL Cares to send email reminders for upcoming shifts to confirm volunteers, thank you notes to volunteers who have signed up and notifications of event cancellations.

Website Integration

NL Cares coupled the power of V4S with their own volunteer and events calendar. By integrating their website into their Nonprofit Cloud, they are now able to seamlessly transition data from their website into their CRM.

“We’ve invested a lot of time into building out our events calendar for our volunteers. Integrating our Drupal instance into Salesforce means streamlining our data collection. Together with the automation Salesforce brings, our team is now able to spend less time answering the phone confirming volunteer shifts and more time focusing on our mission,” said Korstanje.

NL Cares Events Calendar
NL Cares Events Calendar

Lightning Experience Upgrade

As part of the implementation of V4S, Cloud for Good also upgraded NL Cares from the classic version of Salesforce to the Lightning Experience (LEX). With LEX, NL Cares is now on the leading edge of what Salesforce has to offer.

Reports & Dashboard Training

In addition to being able to effectively manage their volunteers on V4S, Cloud for Good spent time making sure NL Cares was comfortable using the Nonprofit Cloud and could run the Reports and Dashboards they needed to drive intelligent business decisions.

“It was important to Cloud for Good that not only was our V4S configured in a way that makes sense for our organization but also that we had the tools and skills needed to efficiently run Reports and understand which events are resonating best with our volunteers. This knowledge also gives the NL Cares team the information we need to let your volunteers know what the direct impact has been of their contributions on the organization,” said Wassenaar.

Results

Increased Quality of Engagement

Working within the upgraded system, NL Cares now doesn’t need to worry about volunteers not receiving their welcome emails, confirmation of shift emails or cancelation emails.

“The way Salesforce is now configured gives us the confidence that all our communications with our volunteers are going out as planned,” said Korstanje, “It also decreased the volume of calls we receive from volunteers who are unsure if they’ve successfully signed up for an event.”

The consistency of communications has helped NL Cares build trust within their community of volunteers.

“By making it easy for volunteers to sign up and improving the overall experience with V4S, we hope to see a greater number of return volunteers, both by individuals and organizations,” said Wassenaar.

More Visibility into Their Data

Because their website directly integrates with Salesforce and Cloud for Good provided Reports and Dashboard training, NL Cares now has greater visibility into their volunteer data. They can now track trends in volunteering and identify individuals with specific interests to help fill their volunteer events. They now easily can pull the reports they need without any external help. Whether for funding, management information or to show the impact of their volunteers, NL Cares is now empowered to conduct the reporting they need to help make informed decisions to increase their organizational impact.

“With so many volunteer events offered every day, it is invaluable to be able to conduct reporting all our data at the push of a button. Cloud for Good really took the time to make sure we were set up for success after our project ended,” said Korstanje.

Built Excitement for Salesforce

With the implementation of V4S and knowledge share provided by Cloud for Good, NL Cares is now excited for the next steps in their Salesforce journey.

“We’re already realizing the power Salesforce has and the impact it made on our organization. I’m looking forward to what’s next for our team. We hope we can expand our Salesforce usage past volunteer management and add in corporate activities and fundraising data into the system as well,” said Wassenaar, “We couldn’t have gotten this far without Cloud for Good’s help.”