Another option – Volunteer management software for schools to track parent volunteers.
Oct 06, 2018 12:00 AM

In this blog post we will provide product information on Volunteer management software for purposes of tracking parent volunteers in schools.


Volunteer management systems are the next step up from Time/Hour tracking software and generally offer a much broader range of features and functionality. The reason for this is volunteer management systems serve more industry segments, for example, non-profits, hospitals, universities and, of course, schools. And since these organizations tend to be big organizations, with hundreds if not thousands of volunteers, their volunteer needs are wide-ranging.


In order for volunteer management system vendors to be able to serve such varying industry segments – and their needs – the software offerings need to have more feature set offerings. That said, whilst such feature sets are broad they are not “deep”, meaning they come with many features, but the extent to which the features serve user needs is rather limited.


However, it is the extent of an organization’s volunteer program which causes these organizations to look to volunteer management systems.


Catholic, Independent, and Charter schools, with their strong focus on building school community, most often have very extensive parent participation programs. A Catholic elementary school with 300 families for example, may have as many has 70+ school events and activities, with 600 to 800+ available volunteer positions or shifts, every year. Plus these schools have significant volunteer requirements, for example, tracking families with Criminal Record Checks or Food Handling Certificates. Online signup forms and Time/Hour tracking systems simply do not come close to serving such volunteer management needs.


Features of Volunteer Management Systems


Generally provide all the features that Time/Hour tracking software provide, plus the following.

  1. Centralized system wherein everything from signup forms, volunteer profiles, event signup, scheduling and management, and advanced reporting are all in one place.
  2. Scheduling of events and school activities needing volunteers.
  3. Ability for volunteers to add and manage User profiles, all contained in a volunteer database.
  4. Volunteer signup and hours tracking.
  5. Ability to serve up and manage unique volunteer signup pages for special groups of people or special events.
  6. Ability to manage volunteer profiles.
  7. Multiple user levels and permissions.
  8. Ability to send emails to volunteers, both automated and manual.
  9. Kiosks for volunteers to check in and check out.
  10. Integration with CRM or school information systems.


As you can see, volunteer management systems offer a wide range of capabilities.


With volunteer management systems, getting started usually involves “implementation”, meaning entering data and configuration of the system. In most cases, training is also part of the process, again, because there are so many capabilities to learn.


In our next blog post, we will look at another option for school parent volunteer management – highly specialized systems uniquely designed for schools. Come back again in the next couple of days to learn about these systems.


Happy volunteering!

Next option – Volunteer Time / Hour tracking software to track school parent volunteers
Oct 05, 2018 12:00 AM

Continuing on our blog post series on available software alternatives available to track school volunteers, in this post we’ll be focusing on Volunteer Time or Hour tracking software.


Volunteer Time/Hour tracking software is, as the name implies, tracks hours of the volunteers. This typically involves a 2-part process:

  1. Volunteers signing up for volunteer opportunities.
  2. Volunteers then logging and entering the volunteer jobs they completed.


Administrators or organizers can then verify the jobs volunteers have submitted, and the verified hours can be reported on in built-in reports.


Features of Volunteer Time/Hour Tracking software:

  1. Volunteers are able to submit or log their hours.
  2. Volunteers can view available volunteer opportunities and signup; different events and activities with volunteer opportunities are shown in different webpages.
  3. Site Administrators or coordinators are able to verify hours.
  4. Administrators are able to assign a volunteer hours ‘goal’, to which volunteers and their service hours can be tracked against.
  5. Built-in reports provide information on volunteers and their hours.
  6. Administrators have the ability to send emails to volunteers.


The ability of having volunteers submit their service hours inherent in Time/Hour tracking software is, by its very nature, both an advantage and a disadvantage.


In one sense, the ability for volunteers to submit their hours is an advantage because often times volunteers will do more work than the originally scheduled Start and End times of the volunteer job. So, the volunteer has the flexibility to submit the correct amount of time to the volunteer program leader.


The flip side of the ability for volunteers to submit their hours is, the actual fact that volunteers have to submit their hours in order to receive the hours. With online forms, when a parent signs up for volunteer jobs are automatically tracked and are given with the volunteer. In Time/Hour tracking software, the crediting of hours is based on volunteers having to submit their hours and the organizer having to verify the hours. And the volunteer jobs and hours that a volunteer signed up for are not necessarily associated with the job that the volunteer has to submit. For any submitted hours, the Administrator or organizer has to first look at the volunteer job in question to see if in fact the volunteer was signed up for that job. Then the Administrator can the verify the volunteer’s hours.


However, the biggest inherent shortcoming of Time/Hour tracking software is the fact that volunteers are simply not very cooperative in submitting or logging in their hours. And when they do, it is often late in the year. This creates a huge burden on administrators and coordinators, who need to go back weeks, if not months, to find the volunteer positions in question and verify jobs and hours. For example, in an elementary school, most parents submit their hours late in the school year. Administrators and coordinators need to deal with dozens, if not hundreds of volunteer jobs, going as far back as September of the previous year.


So, Volunteer Time/Hour tracking software, whilst provides features not found in online signup form services, have both pros and cons with the inherent way these systems typically work.


In our next post, we will turn to general volunteer management systems. These provide the next level of features above what Time/Hour tracking systems provide. So come back and learn about volunteer management systems.


Happy volunteering!

Software to track school volunteers – Available Options Series
Oct 02, 2018 12:00 AM

In most of our conversations with schools considering software for their school volunteer program, we’ve realized that school administrators and parent volunteer program leaders need help understanding the many different options available to them and how those options differ from one another. So, in a 4-blog post series, we’ve decided to share our knowledge about the wide range of available options on software to track school parent volunteers.


Generally speaking, software for tracking school parent volunteers comes in 4 categories:

  1.  Online signup forms
  2.  Hour Tracking web apps
  3.  General volunteer management systems
  4.  Specialized volunteer management software uniquely designed for schools


In this post, we’ll focus on Online signup forms.


As we briefly wrote in a past blog post, online volunteer signup forms are, well, just that. Online signup forms come in different varieties, from free single webpage signups to multiple online signup form services.

Features of Online Signup forms


Free Signup forms

  1. You’ll typically get 1 signup form
  2. 1 ‘organizer’ account, which is usually for the person who is managing the school activity or event need volunteers.
  3. the ability to create a ‘schedule’ – either the day(s), Start and End times of the volunteer opportunities, and how many volunteers you need.
  4. send emails to the participants, i.e. parent volunteers.
  5. pick a theme for your signup page.
  6. no passwords needed – this is a good and bad thing – good in that you can send the link to anyone, and bad because the link is often posted by the schools on their website, meaning anyone on the Internet can see the information.


Paid Signup forms

  1. these will of course include the features contained in a free version, plus the following, in one form or another.
  2. multiple signup form webpages, each one being a different link.
  3. multiple organizers, again, the # available will depend on some type of plan that you can select; the greater the # of organizers, the more you pay per month.
  4. custom fields that you can add to each signup form.
  5. various ways to create signup schedules.
  6. more advanced emailing capabilities.
  7. basic volunteer hours tracking; this usually comes in the way of services hours from one signup page being dumped into an Excel spreadsheet.
  8. the cost of Paid signup form services range from $9/month to as much as $49/month.


Getting started is very easy with online signup forms, you just need to create an account.


If your school needs help with recruiting parent volunteers for a school event, then online signup forms are great tools. You just need to pick which plan you need based on how many events and how many organizers you have.


In our next post, we’ll be looking at Hours Tracking web apps. We’ll provide features information on those web apps and how they differ from online signup forms. So be sure to come back in a couple of days.


Happy Volunteering!

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