By Kat Caudle, Volunteer Coordinator, Newark
Can you imagine scheduling more than 10,000 volunteers a year? Can you imagine scheduling them using nothing more than an Outlook© calendar and email? If you’ve ever volunteered at the Food Bank of Delaware, then this process is very familiar to you. Here’s the typical scheduling scenario: An interested volunteer (or group) contacts our Volunteer Department (aka, me!) and says, “I’d like to come to volunteer, what’s the next step?” The response is usually to ask what dates and times do they have in mind and how many people. From there, I would pull up my Outlook Calendar, and let them know if that date and time were ok. Throughout the month I will keep a running list of dates that I cannot schedule volunteers. It helps to have a quick reference to what is available so that I don’t overbook the volunteer room! Once a date and time are picked, I ask the volunteer to fill out an online form and let them know that the best directions can be found on our Web site. We hang up and I add another date to my list.
That seems pretty simple, except when you’re doing that up to 50-60 times a day per volunteer/group and on top of that you’re responsible for recruiting more volunteers, attending meetings with key people and of course giving jobs to the volunteers who are volunteering. Take it from someone whose been doing this for 5.5 months, it’s the most time consuming part of my job.
That is all about to change! In December our Community Relations Manger picked up on a Tweet from the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. They had just launched their new scheduling program called VolunteerHub. I initially put the email into my “Check it Out” folder to be followed up with after the holidays. It wasn’t until we started talking about making the Volunteer Program more efficient that we remembered this Tweet. I did more research into it and immediately went to my supervisor to ask permission to purchase this program. I read seven different testimonials about how it made scheduling volunteers so much easier and streamlined the process making it easier not only on the organization but also on volunteers. Through VolunteerHub, an organization can effectively communicate to scheduled volunteers important information. (Such as, Delaware is getting two freak back-to-back snow storms, and we’re closed!) VolunteerHub will also automatically remind you of when you’re volunteering and will gather information so that we may use it to send thank-you notes.
VolunteerHub is simple to set up for a volunteer. They need only to create a username and password, once that’s complete they fill out the same form that we currently have on our Web site. It means that there is no more printing paper out before coming to volunteer, or remembering to bring your registration form with you. It also means that we will no longer be using paper registration forms on site either—VolunteerHub is helping us become more environmentally-friendly. Once a volunteer has created their profile, they look through the list of potential volunteer opportunities. When they find one they want to do, they click a button to be added to the list and that’s it! It’s easy, and you know you’re signed up because volunteers receive an email letting them know it was successful! It takes the guess work out of scheduling and allows volunteers to see what opportunities will be available in the future.
Watch our blog for articles on each of the jobs we will be posting on Volunteerhub.com.