By Lesley Fanning
Why are Volunteers Important?
Volunteers are the backbone of many nonprofit organizations and without them, so much of what an organization does could not be accomplished. They help with fundraising, events, administrative tasks, offer professional skills (to name a few) and most importantly they help spread awareness for the mission of your organization. They are advocates of your cause, help spread awareness and also help recruit new volunteers or donors through their personal and professional networks.
If you asked yourself: “Can my nonprofit achieve its mission without volunteers?” for most nonprofits, the answer is likely a resounding “no”. With limited manpower and tight budgets, many nonprofits depend heavily on volunteers and so the ability to effectively and strategically manage them is critical.
Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S)
Fortunately with the new technology we have available today, there are many ways to easily manage your volunteers – one of them being Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S). V4S is an application for volunteer management that has helped transform many nonprofit organizations worldwide. It has been designed to help you manage all aspects of your organization’s volunteer management needs from initial volunteer sign-up to reporting on volunteer hours. Not only does it help with the management of your volunteers needs but it also helps you to effectively manage your relationships with these individual volunteers and the organizations that they represent. Relationships are key to ensuring your volunteers stay engaged with your organization and V4S not only helps you stay connected to your volunteers but connected in a personalized way.
What Data Does VS4 track?
If your familiar with Salesforce, V4S uses a combination of Salesforce Standard and Custom Objects. The two Standard Salesforce Objects in V4S are Contacts and Campaigns. However, in this case, Contacts represents your individual volunteers and Campaigns represents your individual volunteer events or initiatives. One thing to note is that even though V4S uses these Standard Objects, new fields have been added within these objects that allow you to track information specific to volunteer management. Below are listed the Objects VS4 includes along with a sample of the fields and information you can track on each one.
Contact ( Volunteer )
- Volunteer status, hours given, skills/interests, availability, first and last volunteer dates and add any additional notes
Campaign (Volunteer Event )
- Number of volunteers required for a specific event, types of volunteer jobs, shifts and hours needed, volunteers remaining to fill a job or shift and volunteer website time zone for any given event
- Create and manage the jobs you have to fill and identify the skills needed for each
- Track dates, times, and number of volunteers needed for a certain job
- Track the hours a volunteer spends with your organization
Job and Volunteer Recurrence Schedule
- Create jobs that you need on a recurring basis as well as schedule volunteers that have committed their time on a recurring basis
Along with tracking the above data, V4S has the following capabilities:
- Find Volunteers: track the skills volunteers have and match volunteers to jobs based on their skills and availability
- Shift Calendar: custom calendar that displays both available and closed shifts by campaign or display a calendar of jobs and shifts on your organization’s website and allow volunteers to sign up via the website
- Mass Actions: email volunteers, edit volunteer hours, create job/volunteer recurrence records
- Send Email: reminders for upcoming shifts to confirmed volunteers, thank yous to volunteers that have signed up for a shift on the website
Being able to give your volunteers the flexibility to engage with your organization at their convenience as well as offering self-service capabilities is so important in today’s environment. In addition to allowing volunteer sign-up through your website, V4S also lets you setup Personal Volunteer Sites. These sites provide volunteers with their own online page where they can view their volunteer data, manage their personal information such as availability and skill sets, and sign up for jobs. They can also see a snapshot of their recent volunteer history including the dates they volunteered and for what jobs, their total volunteer hours given, upcoming scheduled jobs and log their hours for current volunteer jobs. Furthermore, you can publish information to these sites that shows your volunteers how they rank in comparison to others with your organization based on the overall time they have given.
What can you do with this information?
Build a Volunteer Profile
The volunteer profile becomes extremely valuable because it allows you to personalize your communications with your volunteers based on certain information. For example, you notice that a volunteer has committed a lot of hours to your organization this year and you want to send them a thank you email or have a Director personally call them to give thanks. Maybe you want to get in touch with those volunteers that have not been active or haven’t volunteered in a given year. V4S allows you to quickly identify these volunteers that need nurturing and re-engagement. By tracking your volunteers skills, interests, and qualifications not only does it make it easier for your organization to find volunteers for a specific job but it also allows you to offer and match volunteers with jobs that will utilize their skill sets.
Having the ability to run reports on your volunteer programs and events provides significant value to your organization. It allows you to understand which of your efforts are providing the greatest return and which ones are generating the most interest among volunteers. This is helpful for two reasons. One, it allows your team to focus on the events or programs that deliver maximum impact and two, gives you insight into why a specific event attracted a big volunteer turnout. It also gives you the information that your team needs to let your volunteers know what the direct impact has been of their contributions on the organization. This is crucial because the quickest way to lose volunteers is by wasting their time and not being able to show them the impact their contributions have had.
Extend Value Beyond Volunteering
Since VFS works hand-in-hand with Salesforce and the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), you can easily find out if your volunteers are also attending your fundraising events, see their donation history and find out if they are related to other constituents in your organization. The ability to see all of this information in one centralized place allows your team to have a holistic view of your volunteers by seeing their full engagement with your organization and helps guide your teams communication with your volunteers by uncovering opportunities to further engage and deepen relationships. Deeper relationships lead to increased engagement and contributing to your organization in more ways than just volunteering, such as becoming a donor.
How do You Get V4S?
Volunteer management systems like V4S allow you to keep your volunteers engaged and supported but also allow you to have a well connected, efficient and impactful organization. The time that your volunteers donate to your organization is often just as valuable as a monetary donation. So making sure you have systems in place that give you the ability to understand who your volunteers are will help keep your volunteers engaged, happy, valued and proud that they are making a difference (which is why they chose to volunteer for you in the first place).
If you’re currently using the NPSP Salesforce environment, VS4 is pre-installed. If you’re on a different Salesforce enviornement, you can download VS4 for free from the AppExchange.
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