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Buyer's Guide

by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 19, 2017


Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Volunteer Management Software?
Common Features of Volunteer Management Software
Benefits of Deploying Volunteer Management Software
Key Considerations
What Type of Buyer Are You?

What Is Volunteer Management Software?

Volunteers are a core component of a nonprofit’s success. Because they rely heavily on supporters—whether supporting via donor dollars or volunteered hours—it’s essential to build and maintain a database of volunteers. Volunteer management software helps a nonprofit organization store contact information, a participant's history, availability and more. Volunteer scheduling software also provides outreach tools to contact those who've volunteered for upcoming events, and scheduling tools to track responses and availability.

Common Features of Volunteer Management Software

A Volunteering in America study showed that 25.4 percent of American adults volunteered 7.7 billion hours in 2013. Nonprofit organizations should strive to capture as much of this trend as possible. Beyond capturing the volunteering trend, however, is engaging and nourishing these relationships once they’ve begun. Here are a few benefits of implementing a volunteer tracking software solution:

Feature Description
Recruitment Volunteer management systems include online volunteer applications that sync contact information into the database, diverting the time spent on manual entry to increasing the number of prospects. Customizable directories can also be added to a nonprofit’s sites so that visitors can search for opportunities, role descriptions and site locations.
Management An advanced contact management system allows users to organize contact information and history, including volunteer type, frequency, restrictions and more. This allows users to group volunteers, filter search criteria and reach out to appropriate supporters.
Communication The communication features allow users to send email campaigns to volunteers, requesting service and adding automated email reminders for upcoming service commitments they’ve volunteered for. Some advanced programs also offer recognition features that automatically award volunteers whose performance has exceeded certain criteria.
Volunteer portals Portals allow volunteers to sign into an organization’s site, inquire about upcoming volunteer opportunities, sign up for events and update contact information. Volunteers can also change their communication preferences through portals, opting in or out of particular communications.
Volunteer schedules Nonprofit organizations can post upcoming volunteer needs with scheduling features. Prospective volunteers can then peruse opportunities and fill empty slots based on their availability.

Benefits of Deploying Volunteer Management Software

Several features can help nonprofit organizations more effectively manage their volunteers and develop lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with them.

  • Recruit more participants through online marketing campaigns.
  • Better match volunteers to roles matching their skills, talents and areas of expertise.
  • Recognize those for a job well-done, and improve the likelihood of their continued support.
  • Reduce the amount of time necessary to manually track volunteer history and organize supporters for upcoming events.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of an organization’s success, particularly those that may not have the assets to pay a full staff. Approaching your volunteer plan strategically can significantly improve relationships, public visibility and overall contribution to your organization’s mission. For more information about nonprofit solutions, visit our nonprofit buyer's guide.

Key Considerations

Business requirements: Volunteer management software supports organizations in resolving business challenges and achieving their business goals. A detailed evaluation of the business requirements with all stakeholders is integral to making a knowledgeable purchase. A starting point for the evaluation process is to list out the requisite features and match them to the shortlisted volunteer management solutions.

Size of the organization: The volunteer management software market has a plethora of options that cater to organizations of different sizes. Small businesses look for solutions that have a user-friendly interface, require minimal infrastructure and include training modules. On the other hand, larger businesses look for customized solutions that assist them in resolving specific challenges.

Product capabilities: Volunteer management solutions come with a range of functionalities, such as attendance management, calendar management, event management, volunteer portals and scheduling. Business owners should look for solutions that meet all their needs instead of choosing applications that offer the maximum number of features, most of which may not be relevant.

Number of integrations: Integrations allow the software to interact with other software and third-party applications. Volunteer management software offers integrations with CRM software, event management software and payment-enabling solutions. Users should ensure that their existing solutions integrate with the volunteer management solution. Most volunteer management solutions offer integrations with Salesforce.com, Blackbaud, Google Calendar and Microsoft Office.

Deployment: Cloud-based deployments provide agility and facilitate 24/7 access from remote locations. In addition, cloud solutions offer subscription-based pricing to curb excessive capital expenditure and operational expenses. However, for long-term usage, consider solutions that are deployed on-premise as they incur a one-time expense and will prove to be more cost-effective.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Small and midsize nonprofit organizations: Volunteers are important for every nonprofit. But for small and midsize nonprofits, they are critical to manage all the events and to raise donations. Volunteer management software helps small and midsize nonprofits monitor and engage volunteers. These organizations prefer solutions that provide online scheduling, training modules, registration portals, event management and a volunteer database.

Large nonprofits: Large nonprofits are spread across the whole country and sometimes even globally. Managing and communicating with a large number of volunteers is a huge task in itself. Large nonprofits prefer solutions that can assist them in maintaining the volunteer database, managing the event calendar and sending automated emails. Volunteer communication is a difficult job for any large nonprofit that consumes human and monetary resources. Therefore, one of the most demanded features by these organizations is automated email and text communication functionality.

Associations: Member-based associations, such as clubs, museums, professional groups and trade organizations, have different requirements compared with typical nonprofits. These organizations look for functionalities such as subscription renewals, invoice generation, dues collection and committee management.

Churches and faith-based organizations: These organizations have intense and routine fundraising activities and prefer solutions that offer accounting, event management, facilities management, membership management etc. Moreover, these organizations are usually interested in tracking the attendance of volunteers and monitoring their donations. Decision makers should evaluate their requirements and assess whether they need a best-of-breed church management solution or a volunteer management software for their activities.

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