Bringing Volunteers Back Safely!

As shelter-in-place rules are relaxed and volunteers start coming in, our nonprofits are faced with the question of how to keep volunteers safe. To help that process, we’ve introduced a new Zero Touch volunteer check-in process in V4S Mobile.

Join us for a webinar on Thursday September 17th at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET to see how you can “Bring Back Volunteers Safely!”. We look forward to seeing you there. Click here to register for the webinar.

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Zero Touch Volunteer Check-ins.

As the shelter-in-place rules are lifted, most nonprofits are beginning to see some volunteer activity start again. But with Covid-19 still raging, all our thoughts are on how to make every process safer for everyone. With that goal in mind, we are very excited to roll out the new “zero-touch” volunteer check-in process in V4S Mobile. With just a quick scan on any iOS or Android phone/tablet, your volunteer check-in data is safely and reliably in Volunteers for Salesforce.

Background

The idea for the zero-touch solution came from requests from several of our nonprofit customers. We had detailed discussions with them on what would make sense for nonprofits and their volunteers. Everyone was concerned with the safety of multiple volunteers checking in a shared Kiosk device. As a stop-gap arrangement, we offered V4S Personal free to all our existing V4S Kiosk customers. While that worked for a few customers, a lot of our nonprofits wanted a central solution that was at their location but could still be used safely.

While we had introduced a scanning mechanism in our V4S Kiosk Events add-on, we had not done that with the volunteer check-ins. For two main reasons:

  • Most of our nonprofits had a lot of walk-in volunteers who had not previously signed up
  • With Events, there was an urgency to check-in people quickly, which wasn’t as much an issue with volunteer check-ins.

Now with COVID-19 rampant, most of our nonprofits had decided to do away with walk-in volunteering. Our discussions revealed that over 60% of nonprofits had decided that there would be no walk-in volunteers for at least the next one (1) year. Several had decided that for the next two (2) years.  And most nonprofits could not have a Volunteer Coordinator available to check-in volunteers on her device. This was especially true for our nonprofits handling pets and animal shelters, where volunteers came in from early in the morning to late at night to feed, clean, and exercise the animals. They were very clear that volunteers would need to check themselves in.

The zero-touch solution for V4S Kiosk.

With this background, we decided to add an automated scanning solution for volunteers. We added a QR Code field to Volunteers for Salesforce’s Vol Hours object. We also added a QR Code field to the Contact object in Salesforce. This way, our nonprofits have the flexibility to either have a unique QR Code based on each Volunteer’s Vol Hours record OR a unique QR Code for each Volunteer’s Contact ID.

Here is a short video that shows what the QR Code looks like on the Vol Hours record in Salesforce.

If you are setting up QR Codes by Vol Hours ID, then you’ll need to make sure that you send out an email with the QR Code it to each Volunteer for every Job/Shift that she has signed up for. You will need to send out such an email for every time that a volunteer has signed up for a Job/Shift.

Here’s a video that shows what such an Email would look like:

If you are using QR Codes on the Contact, then you could send a single email to the Volunteer with their Contact QR Code in it. They could use that same emailed QR Code for checking in every time that they came in for a signed up Job/Shift. Alternatively, you could print a badge for each volunteer with their contact QR Code on it. This way, the volunteer can scan their badge whenever she comes in for Job/Shift.

Automated Check-ins.

We suggest that you put the iOS / Android device that you are using for check-ins in the single app mode so that the device is not accidentally turned off or switched to a different app.  Within V4S Kiosk, we suggest that you select the Scanning to be in Continuous mode. Also, select whether you want the Front or Back Camera to be used. We suggest using the front camera because the volunteer would be able to see confirmation of their check-in on the screen.

Here is a video that shows how a volunteer could hold up their Shift confirmation email and get Checked-in to that Shift.

If instead, you chose to use the QR Code on the Contact ID, then potentially you could send that QR Code to the Volunteer once and she would just scan the same QR Code every time that she came in for a Job/Shift that she was signed up for that day. The V4S Kiosk app looks to check if the Contact with that QR Code has signed up for any Job/Shift on the current day and scans the Volunteer in.

If a Volunteer signs up for more than one Job/Shift per day, then she would necessarily need the QR Code related to the Job/Shift. You would not be able to scan the Volunteer with the QR Code on the Contact. Because in that case, the app would only find one of the multiple Jobs/Shifts signed up for.

As nonprofits start to open up and volunteers come back to help, we urge you all to maintain social distancing. Keep those masks on and stay safe, everyone!

How to Recruit College Student Volunteers

College Student Volunteers

Have you ever tried to recruit college student volunteers? Are you ready to reach out to a local university? Engage a new group of student volunteers using these volunteer recruitment tips. Enjoy the buzz and the fresh energy that these young students bring to your non-profit.

College Student Volunteers
College Student Volunteers

College students make great volunteers. If they believe in your cause, their enthusiasm and spirit can bring new meaning and urgency to your cause and mission. Their class schedules are often flexible, which means you may have volunteers to work your hard-to-fill slots. And with tech-savvy college students, you’ll be able to fire up your social media and web-related work.

So what factors do you need to consider and how do you go about recruiting college volunteers?

Think of volunteer transportation

Many college students do not have their own transportation. So you may need to find ways to provide transportation. Perhaps you could team up with an organization that can provide transport. Or if you are close to public transportation, then that would work. The key is that it doesn’t make sense to get college student volunteers, if they can’t get to you.

How to find college student volunteers

Find students at Job Fairs

There’s always students at Job Fairs. College students are looking for internships and jobs after graduation. Job Fairs are a great place for them to find and network with future employers. Sign up for a small booth at local job fairs. You’re guaranteed to meet loads of students looking for jobs. Reach out to them, remind them that volunteering looks great on their resumes. You don’t want that to be the only reason why they choose to work with you, though. 🙂  Make sure that you have a signup sheet where interested volunteers give you their email IDs and phone numbers. Give out a small give away such as pen or pencil with your organization’s name on it.

Talk to Professors about your needs

Professors often have a very good idea of their student’s skills and needs. If you are looking for a volunteers for a fund raising Marathon, talk to a Professor in the Sports Management Department and find out how to recruit volunteers. They may have physical and electronic notice boards where they can post your requirement. Or they may be willing to send out an email to all the students in the department on your behalf. You may get lucky and have professors and other faculty volunteering too.

Use the Fraternity/Sorority system

Fraternity & Sorority List
Fraternity & Sorority List

Sororities and Fraternities often look for local charities to partner with on social projects. Most sorority/fraternity websites will give you details of past projects that they’ve worked on. Find sororities/fraternities that have worked on projects similar to yours and get in touch with them. Sororities/fraternities can find you large numbers of volunteers. So if you have a high demand event, like a Marathon, this is a great source of college student volunteers.

Speak to Hobby Groups

Universities are filled with special interest groups and clubs. Whether they are programmers, culinary enthusiasts, or love to read, most groups love getting their name out in the community. Most clubs and groups are listed on the university website. Reach out to them to find volunteers specific to your projects.

Talk to Church Groups

Religion-based groups are always looking for ways to give back to the community. One simple way to recruit college student volunteers is to speak at informal church gatherings. Explain your volunteer requirements and why they should sign up. Make sure that you collect email IDs and phone numbers.

Whichever way (s) you use to find your volunteers, make sure that you get in touch with them within a week of contact. Students have multiple demands on their time and short attention spans. So you want to get them when you still have top of the mind recall.

Tap directly into what motivates students

Students are busy people, but they do indeed have time to volunteer. So think of the reasons why students volunteer. Here are a couple of easy ones – a) to gain work experience b) to have fun with their friends. So find opportunities that help students gain skills directly related to their field of study. Communicate clearly what they can hope to gain (what they can put on their resume, who they will meet and be able to network with…). If there’s a way to give credit for the volunteer hours and service, make sure that happens.

Get Social

Use your web pages and social media handles to share photos and videos about volunteering opportunities and the achievements of your student volunteers. Post before and after pictures, interviews with the volunteers. Use your tech-savvy college volunteers to set up a You Tube channel, an Instagram account, a Facebook page and any other social media accounts that you want. Partner with the college radio station or newspaper to pump up your social media community.

Give Swag

Most people like free stuff, especially young people. Give away t-shirts for example, when your volunteers complete a certain number of hours. If you don’t have the budget for it, get local businesses that appeal to the student demographic to sponsor your shirts. To widen the appeal, hold a student t-shirt design contest and use the winning design for your non-profit’s signature shirt. Get a “cool” t-shirt and it can help brand your volunteer program.

Give volunteers easy ways to sign up

Young people are busy with a million things. Give them easy ways to know when you have opportunities for them to volunteer with you. If you use Volunteers for Salesforce, you can post your Jobs and Shifts calendar on your website and allow volunteers to sign up there. With the V4S Personal, you can be on your college student’s mobile device where they are always on. You can let your student volunteers’ sign up for Jobs and Shifts directly on their mobile phones.

Volunteering is a great option for college students because it costs them only a few hours of their time. It also gives them the time to bond with other students and make lasting friendships. Use these tips to draw and engage bright, smart college student volunteers for your organization.

Have you converted Volunteers to Donors?

Convert Volunteers to Dono

Convert Volunteers to Dono

Looking to grow your donor base? A fantastic place to start is to convert your Volunteers to Donors. According to Abila’s Donor Loyalty Study, 75% of those who volunteered say they are more likely to donate. That is an overwhelming statistic and one that nonprofits should leverage. Studies also show that volunteers donate 10 times more than non-volunteers.

So how do you convert volunteers to donors for your nonprofit? Here are five best practices to help you convert volunteers to donors.

Acknowledge Volunteers like you do Donors

Treat your volunteers right. They may not make monetary contributions.  But the time that they donate to your nonprofit has a tangible monetary value. According to the Independent Sector, the  value of Volunteer Time in 2019 was $ 25.43 per hour. So a volunteer who spends 10 hours with you, has made a contribution of over $ 250 to your nonprofit.

Are you telling your volunteers how much you appreciate their time and effort? Try and do that at as many opportunities as possible. If you can, try to quantify their activity into how much money or time they’ve saved your organization.

For example, “The supporters that you brought to the Annual Walkathon helped us raise an additional $ 5000 this year. This will help us serve another 100 people. Your time and effort helped make this possible!”

Track all volunteer activity

Do you track all volunteer hours diligently? Do you have reports that tell you how many hours a volunteer spent with you this year vs last year? Can you track volunteer retention rates?

Tracking each volunteer interaction gives you a better understanding of the volunteer’s engagement with your organization. And, if you don’t know how the volunteer helped, how can you appropriately thank them?

Tracking all the volunteer hours spent with your organization provide great statistics for grant requests too.

Acknowledge Volunteer Milestones

Volunteer Awards Report
Volunteer Awards Report

Tracking all volunteer hours lets you keep track of specific volunteer milestones. Set up simple acknowledgements or rewards for when volunteers complete specific hour-based or time-based milestones. For example, a volunteer reaches 50 hours this year or completes 3 years of volunteering with you. Reach out to the volunteer. Make a public gesture. Show them that you are aware of their effort and interest in your cause.

Give your volunteers opportunities to share their experiences

Social media share
Social media share

Give your volunteers easy ways for them to share their experience on social media. Use their experience quotes on your website, in a newsletter. Talk to your volunteers about why they do what they do. They can become great ambassadors for your cause. And that may inspire their friends to become donors to your nonprofit.

Ask your Volunteers

Finally, just get down and ask your volunteers for donations. Communication is key, whether it’s with volunteers or donors. According to the Institute for Fundraising, 8 out of 10 people donate after being asked to do so. Don’t assume that your volunteers know your cause and therefore will donate automatically. Maybe they don’t know that your organization needs the money; they may just know that you need volunteers. They may not even know the best or easiest way to donate.

So a simple , straight forward ask may suffice. Perhaps you could set up a way for volunteers to donate a small amount every month. Think of it as a SIP donation plan for volunteers. They could give you $ 10/20/50 every month. That may be easier for some volunteers.

Have you already converted some volunteers to donors? How did you do it? Do share your stories with us.

Checking in volunteer groups with V4S Kiosk

Checking in volunteer groups is one of the toughest things to handle for volunteer managers. Having a group of volunteers come in to volunteer together is fantastic. But tracking those new volunteers and their work time? Now that is a real challenge for you as a Volunteer Manager or Coordinator.

Multiple volunteer signup by number
Multiple volunteer signup by number

Volunteers for Salesforce gives you the functionality of adding in the number of volunteers that come as a part of a group. The point person for a group can set the total number of people in the group. This screenshot shows you how a group leader signs up a group of 20 volunteers using V4S Personal on her mobile.

But that’s really all you can record with the standard Volunteers for Salesforce data structure. The fact that the group leader is bringing in 19 other people, other than herself. There’s no way to track who the individual members of the group are. Or any of their contact information.

Extend volunteer value

For your organization, that individual volunteer data is critical. You want to be able to keep track of every volunteer that ever comes in touch with your organization. A volunteer that comes as part of a group could very likely become a repeat individual volunteer.  If you build a deeper relationship and extend communication with that volunteer, she or he could contribute to your organization by becoming more involved.

Working with group volunteers in V4S Kiosk

Based on requests and interactions with several of our V4S Kiosk customers,

Checking in group volunteers
Checking in group volunteers

we’ve now introduced a new feature to check in multiple volunteers that come in as part of a group. If the group leader comes in a little earlier than the Job / Shift start time, then she can Signup the other volunteers in her group to the specific Job / Shift. Note the

Volunteer group dropdown
Volunteer group dropdown

way that the Add multiple volunteers screen is set up in V4S Kiosk. If you have multiple volunteer groups that are coming in, you could sign up people from different groups using the same screen, by selecting the right group name for the specific volunteer that you are signing up.

If your organization requires that each volunteer sign a waiver form, you would be able to set that up. When the individual volunteer checks in to start work on the Job / Shift, she would be asked to read and sign a waiver form, right within V4S Kiosk.

Volunteer data in Salesforce

volunteer data in salesforceAll the new volunteers signed in on the V4S Kiosk get added to Volunteers as Salesforce as Contact records, with the configured Volunteer Group field updated. If so configured, the Date Waiver signed and the actual waiver signed along with the signature is stored inside Salesforce. Now you have the luxury of being able to get to all volunteer data easily and securely, right inside Salesforce.

Just imagine how much effort and time you would save with group corporate volunteers. Additionally, using the Waiver add-on would give you the ability to save effort with tracking volunteer waivers and being compliant legally. Now isn’t that something you should be checking out?