How is technology shaping volunteer management?

Digital Transformation, Features, Productivity, Technology in third sector

Written by Katie Taaffe

Technology. Resist it as some of us might try, it’s there. Popping up in every workplace, every home, every commute, every school, every device. The connected world is an essential part of how we live – especially since the pandemic -and has enabled us the freedom of flexible working on a global scale. It’s a fast and furious sector that can barely keep up with itself, but let’s face it, we couldn’t be without it.    

Recent events have encouraged charities and nonprofits to evaluate their digital position and if anything, has accelerated attitudes and inspired digital transformation. Everything from digital fundraising to volunteer engagement has been given a new perspective and any previous hesitation for change has been replaced with a more open-minded approach.  

Driving change in volunteer management  

How do you manage your volunteers? It’s always interesting to hear the response that varies across organisations and despite the incredible technology that exists, there is still plenty of scope and so many great opportunities to explore that can improve the way in which we work and collaborate with volunteers.   

Outdated systems or processes play a big part in driving change, so what can the latest technology bring to the table for volunteer managers? How can technology improve efficiencies in an organisations using volunteers? And how will technology impact the future of volunteering?  

A digital audit is a great way to get to grips with what your organisation currently uses to manage volunteers. Understanding how each of these tools contributes to the volunteer journey will inform both what’s needed and what’s missing in your search for a solution. This could be anything from abandoning spreadsheets or updating an existing CRM to consolidating multiple apps in favour of a single application.  

Most of us agree that we want technology to improve efficiencies in our roles – and for volunteer managers – how to improve the important stages of the volunteer journey; recruitment, management and retention. This could include how we store and protect data, how we attract and connect with volunteers, how we communicate, how we manage volunteer tasks or rota’s as well as the overall experience that will keep volunteers satisfied and coming back. If each small interaction is considered with purpose, the overall impact can be greatly improved.  

Collaboration, communication and automation

Yes, ‘collaboration’ is something of a buzzword, but it perfectly defines the action of working jointly with someone – or multiple people – for a purpose. The more people required to collaborate on a task and the more moving parts, the trickier this can become. Volunteer managers can be expected to recruit, manage events, schedule rota’s and report the impact of their teams, so technology can play a huge role here.  

With larger more complex tasks that follow a critical path, the ability to keep multiple people – across different departments – in the loop, becomes riskier to get spot on.  Yes, the human brain is an incredible, powerful and complex machine, but we do make errors, get distracted and take leave, so why not help our extraordinary brains out. Backing actions up with a comprehensive purpose built product means team members can pick up where another left off, communication is improved and everything is logged for clarity.  

We see our volunteer management software as a key player in your team. It’s going to assist and support volunteer managers by performing a lot of the hard work for you and creating repeatable actions or workflows that can be shared and easily tracked between those involved. Nothing and no-one can get missed, each step can be completed before moving to the next, important information is captured and the process gets improved over time.   

One single application   

Today we are inundated with quick-fix apps and there’s almost always a solution for every problem that pops up in our lives both personally and professionally. Our handsets and desktops are full of our ‘favourites’ – some of which, we couldn’t live without and others we’ve signed up to and barely opened.  

Sometimes we can be guilty of responding to an immediate problem with a quick-fix, rather than stepping back, looking at the wider picture and investing in a solution that’s fit for purpose. Granted, we are all short on time, but we can end up cobbling together multiple solutions that overlap or argue with one another and before long we’re switching between more apps than we have fingers.   

Multiple apps can also be detrimental to our time and brain power. Switching between apps, logging in, training and keeping abreast of updates and features across multiple apps that all perform and behave differently can be frustrating, especially if external users – such as volunteers – need to use each application too.  

When it comes to useful tech, we expect and require it to simplify something for us or make something easier. That might be to save us time, to store important information or documents, or help us in some way. Why should it be any different in volunteer management?  

There are a number of free and paid software applications to help volunteer managers with recruitment, scheduling, expenses and communications; some are specific to HR, others recruitment and some are a CRM with a little fizz – it’s worth investing some time in navigating the options.

At Assemble, we like to keep everything together with a full life-cycle of standout volunteer management features in one single application. We’ve spent many years learning and refining our features with our customers and we see how this is improving both productivity and efficiency within volunteering teams.   

Continual improvement  

The art of simplifying volunteer management with technology is not straightforward; it requires an in-depth understanding of the many tasks, interactions, challenges and hurdles a volunteer manager can face. It is always evolving and requires both digital and human brains, as well as real-world learnings (and failings) to move forward.  

Continual improvement and development are fundamental to any great software application and these are things we both promote and take seriously. We adapt and change with the needs of our customers, but we also monitor how technology is shaping the other applications we use and how this can influence and enhance Assemble.  

We also bring our passion for technology to our customers, with a focus on how we leverage the best solutions to improve organisations and help people. These benefits include managing data (for more on how do this see our Trust Guide), improving communication, increased productivity, defining processes, reporting and insights, compliance and generally improving collaboration within volunteering teams.  

If you’re interested to see how we do things, then we’d like to invite you to get a demo