Organisations with robust electronic systems for managing volunteers kept and engaged volunteers during the Covid years better than those without, according to the State of Volunteering Report 2022.
However, how do organisations decide which Volunteer Management System to invest in, and what is their experience of implementing and using one?
Our March Ako Kōtui – Networking Series 2023 session covered this topic. Ako Kōtui are online lunchtime sessions. Each month guests share their experience of relevant issue AND participants have an opportunity to discuss, share and network.
Panel members were: Gail Marshall, co-founder Community Comms Collective; Carey Buck, volunteer coordinator for IHC Friendships Programme Wellington and Hutt Valley; and Jo Guest, contract event volunteer coordinator, Wanaka. Heidi Quinn, Volunteer Management Lead, Volunteering New Zealand was the facilitator.
Identifying the Need for a VMS
The panellists identified ‘growing pains’ of having too many volunteers and projects to manage without better electronic systems. If selecting a system, it was important to understand what you needed. Gail said the Community Comms Collective had the support of a volunteer business analyst to map existing processes with the volunteer managers, identify the data requirements and then the organisation knew what it wanted in a VMS and could confidently go to market. Jo said the look and function of a VMS was important.
Heidi said if you could identify the amount of volunteer manager’s time spent co-ordinating volunteers, you could calculate the savings (in time and money) by implementing a Volunteer Management System.
Benefits to organisation and volunteers
There are many benefits both to the organisation and its volunteers from having a VMS. Carey uses Better Impact at IHC and said she appreciated having all the information about volunteers at her fingertips. Volunteers also had easy access to information about their interactions and could self-update. Many systems had apps or could be accessed from a phone, making communication easy.
The Tipping Point
During the Q&A with the audience, the idea of a ‘tipping point’ for implementing a VMS was raised. Organisations may be fine with spreadsheets or other more manual processes, but they grow to a point where better digital management is needed. The decision to invest in a VMS can be to do with measuring volunteers’ impact and the organisation’s strategy and purpose.
You can watch the panel discussion here.
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