We were recently asked to share our top three tips for selecting volunteer management software to provide some context for software comparison tool developed by Better Impact. Our tips – along with those of other volunteer engagement experts – are featured on the page but we wanted to share them on our site as well. Read our tips below – and check out the new resource at volunteersoftwarecomparisons.com.
While having a clear and focused strategy is the most vital tool to ensure that engagement efforts are impactful and meaningful – not to mention, sustainable – having the right infrastructure, including volunteer management software, goes hand in hand with strategy. Strategy articulates the vision (the destination for success) and establishes the route to take and milestones to pass on our journey towards that destination, but infrastructure is the vehicle that takes us there. A useful and robust volunteer management software can make the journey smooth and efficient – or bumpy and unpleasant. Here are three considerations we recommend when exploring volunteer management software for your organization.
- Ease of use and access to technical support. You shouldn’t have to work for your volunteer management software – the software should work for you and for the volunteers who engage with you. Find a product that is intuitive, easy to use, and easy to train others to use. Talk to other users to confirm whether the tech support is easily accessible, responsive, and helpful.
- Volunteer control over data and scheduling.Volunteers should be able to log in, update their own information, and even self-schedule if appropriate for your organization. When volunteers have control over their own profiles, they have more ownership over their engagement and save staff time for updating data as well. Fluid interface with mobile – so that volunteers can update their schedules using their cell phones or other devices – makes volunteering accessible to even more volunteers, who, increasingly, are accessing information and opportunities on mobile devices.
- Robust impact measurement. Increasingly, organizational leaders, funders, community members, and volunteers themselves are interested in understanding the difference that volunteers contribute towards mission-fulfillment. In other words, the field is interested in measuring volunteer impact in ways beyond hours served. Comprehensive volunteer management software should be a partner in this endeavor, with customizable options to track impacts such as contacts with clients, trees planted, books read, and more. In this way, the software helps to tell the story of how volunteers are a vital strategy to achieve mission.