Your company has the most well-conceived volunteer and giving program on the planet. You’ve got the best people and a leading-edge online platform to manage your program. You’ve got a wildly engaged employee-base hungry to get involved and make a difference. Your volunteer focus aligns perfectly with your corporate mission and the passion of your employees. And you’ve got a nonprofit partner that’s the best in the field for your chosen cause.
Community impact is a done deal, right?
Not so fast. It takes two to tango, and even if your organization has covered every base to hit the ball out of the volunteering park, your nonprofit partner needs to be able to deliver data on its end, too.
When you contribute your company’s resources and manpower to help a nonprofit, especially on an ongoing basis, of course you want to understand how your efforts are making a difference. Capturing impact data around your chosen nonprofit keeps your employees engaged in the cause and sustains the support of your company’s stakeholders - from the C-suite to the Board.
But tracking data is tough if your nonprofit partner doesn't have management tools in place. According to a new report by Software Advice, a company that helps organizations find volunteer management software, only 7% of nonprofits in their sample currently use a bona fide volunteer management system. The majority—63%—manage volunteer data and coordination with general-purpose software (e.g., Microsoft Excel or Outlook). Another 26% use commercial software that isn’t classified as a volunteer management system, such as an event registration, email marketing or donor management application.
Good software is essential for managing relationships and retaining volunteers, but too many nonprofits - just like many for-profit companies - rely solely on spreadsheets and manual methods to track information and miss out on the benefits of greater efficiency, streamlined processes and time-savings.
Because of the ad-hoc systems that so many nonprofits rely upon to manage volunteers, important data tends to “fall through the cracks,” lost amidst a maze of multiple spreadsheets. When people start complaining about a nonprofit’s slow response time to their requests to volunteer, as one organization from the study admitted, it’s time to clean up your act.
Another nonprofit from the survey reported that staff spends “more time managing data than getting work done,” which subsequently led one volunteer to quit. Indeed, the rise in complaints from volunteers is what often prompts nonprofits to seek software solutions for clean volunteer data.
What clean data are nonprofits most interested in capturing through volunteer management software?
**Hour and activity tracking for accountability
**Mass texting and emailing for effective communications
**Scheduling tools to simplify volunteer coordination
Beyond creating a more hospitable environment for volunteers, nonprofits are accountable to other invested parties in myriad ways. Nonprofits need to assure donors that their contributions are being used responsibly, volunteers want to be certain that the work they perform makes a difference and grantors want proof their dollars are spent as expected.
So if your company is supporting a nonprofit through your volunteer and giving program, help them understand that managing data capture and team coordination is just as important for them as it is for your own corporate volunteer teams (which your company is hopefully also managing through its own volunteer management platform.) Your support of a nonprofit partner will have more impact if they’re managing their side of the street with as much efficiency as you are. Point them to the key takeaways from Software Advice’s report and make sure they’re using a modern volunteer management program:
**Less than 10% of nonprofits use volunteer management software to manage data
**Data accuracy and consolidation are the top reasons for seeking software
**93% of nonprofits say tracking volunteer hours is the most important functionality