- Corporate social responsibility
- Public agencies
- Program Management
The more you know about your volunteers, the more valuable you can make their experience. That’s why your nonprofit organization should have a dependable method for tracking volunteer activities. Volunteer tracking helps measure the success of your volunteer efforts and provides impact reports that can be shared with supporters and stakeholders.
This guide will walk through everything you need to know about volunteer tracking, including the benefits of volunteer tracking and how to streamline the process with software, so that you can empower your program.
What is volunteer tracking?
Volunteer tracking is the process of keeping detailed records about your volunteer program. It includes activities like logging volunteer hours, updating contact information, noting program-related milestones, documenting relevant skills, interests, and more.
With this valuable information, you can keep supporters organized and make informed decisions while recruiting, engaging, and managing volunteers.
Four benefits of volunteer tracking
When it comes to your volunteer program, data-based decision-making allows you to grow your initiatives, engage your volunteer base in a robust way, and do more to pursue your purpose.
Additionally, tracking volunteer data can help your nonprofit:
1. Strengthen internal processes.
Volunteer tracking provides your team members with concrete metrics that you can use to drive meaningful action and engagement.
To streamline the volunteer management process, use a unified system or a dedicated volunteer management solution that integrates with your nonprofit CRM to keep your data centralized. This volunteer system should track the following data points:
- Volunteer registration details, such as name, location, skills, and scheduling preferences.
- Volunteer hours, whether collected through an on-site kiosk, mobile app, or online.
- Volunteer opportunities offered, which are organized by type of event, the activity done, and skills/training required.
- Email and phone numbers, as well as other relevant contact information.
Because this data is all located in one place, it’s easy to pull key information to optimize your interactions with volunteers. For instance, you can integrate your communication software and volunteer data to automatically personalize emails with specific volunteers’ names and other relevant details like the city and state they live in. Supporters are much more likely to open and read an email personally addressed to them rather than to a generalized audience, and if the email is about a volunteer opportunity right where they live.
With your tools working together and data flowing seamlessly between them, you and your staff can focus on building relationships with volunteers, facilitating training, and creating exciting opportunities for them.
2. Offer more valuable opportunities and experiences.
Volunteer tracking can help you improve volunteer relationships by enabling you to offer opportunities and experiences tailored to their specific interests and skills.
By collecting key information on your volunteers, you will have a comprehensive record of their personal passions, preferences, and skills. Use that data to promote specific events and activities to the volunteers who are the most likely to respond to them based on their personal relationship to your cause or their unique skill sets.
Check your volunteer management database for past opportunities volunteers engaged with. This is also a good opportunity to evaluate which kinds of opportunities didn’t garner such high engagement—you might decide to pivot away from those tactics and toward different ones that garnered higher engagement rates! Then, promote new opportunities to targeted groups of volunteers based on their previously expressed interests.
For example, if you’re running a phone bank, you could use your nonprofit CRM to find volunteers who have experience talking on the phone with customers, clients, or other stakeholders. To do so, you should:
- Look at your volunteer database and create a list of those who have indicated customer service or phone skills as a strength so you can easily segment those volunteers within your database and contact them via email.
- Create targeted email content advertising those specific opportunities. These emails should also reference the skills you’ve identified that volunteers will need to succeed. Try sending messages like “Your expertise in communications will help us reach more supporters and make our voices heard!” to entice supporters.
This type of data-informed marketing allows you to create targeted messages that will resonate with supporters, increase your overall volunteer registrations, and retain the positive, meaningful volunteer relationships you have worked so hard to build.
3. Share impact with volunteers.
Volunteers are more likely to stay committed to your organization when they know how meaningful their participation is. While sending a general volunteer thank you email is an easy way to show appreciation, leveraging personal data about the recipient will help you go the extra mile to show gratitude and retain their support.
Along with your appreciation email, send a personalized follow-up email summarizing the full impact of the volunteer and their activities. This email should include data from volunteer tracking, such as:
- The specific activity that the volunteer participated in.
- The number of hours spent during the volunteer opportunity.
- Any special skills the volunteer demonstrated.
- Relevant metrics related to the impact of the opportunity, like “X families received free meals thanks to your support!”
From a volunteer’s perspective, seeing that their effort brought 100 hours of meaningful work is much more valuable and tangible than just hearing, “Thank you for your hard work!”
4. Demonstrate accountability to stakeholders.
Tracking volunteer hours helps your nonprofit demonstrate progress and show accountability, which is essential for potential funders or sponsors to see.
This is especially important if you’re planning on receiving volunteer grants. Volunteer grants are financial donations given to a charitable organization by a company that agrees to provide a donation based on the number of volunteer hours completed by their employees. For instance, if an eligible employee volunteers at an organization, the employer might grant $25 per hour. In order to participate in these types of corporate giving programs, you need to log volunteer hours.
Volunteer hours also come in handy if you partner with an institution that provides your organization with volunteers. For instance, if you work with universities, schools, or other community programs that require a minimum number of volunteer hours, it’s important to have a reliable way to track and pull up recorded hours whenever necessary.
Finally, volunteer tracking is helpful if you’re applying for grants or requesting a sponsorship. Companies engaging in corporate social responsibility efforts will be more inclined to work with you if you have documentation that shows your volunteer efforts are meaningful and valuable.
Next steps: Make the most of volunteer tracking
Done right, volunteer tracking can help you clean up your internal processes, keep volunteers engaged, and contextualize the impact of your hardworking and passionate supporters. Use this information to show both volunteers and stakeholders the value of your organization and inspire their continued support.