As a nonprofit leader, you know that volunteers are a driving force in helping your organization achieve success. Every hour of work that volunteers put in makes a difference and is worth about $28 dollars.
Tracking volunteer hours enables you to analyze the impact of your volunteers' hours and provides you with valuable insights on their contributions to your program.
With the right volunteer management software, tracking, measuring, and reporting on volunteer hours is simple. Better processes for volunteer hours tracking give your organization the ability to develop better long-term volunteer management strategies that save time, improve retention rates and keep volunteers engaged.
This article will offer valuable insights and tips for how to leverage your volunteer hour data to increase your impact and improve your volunteer team's experience. Here is a quick look at the topics we will cover:
Why is tracking volunteer hours important?
Tracking, measuring, and analyzing volunteer time plays a vital role in showcasing how much their contributions have helped your organization. This allows you to measure the effectiveness of your volunteer management program. By keeping track of your volunteers’ hours, not only are you demonstrating how much they have accomplished, but it also helps you obtain grants and develop successful strategies that further motivate your team.
Increase grant eligibility
Funding is one of the most challenging aspects of keeping any nonprofit afloat. To fund your mission and continue working with your worthy cause, your organization may apply for grants to gain access to greater financial stability.
Many grants require information on volunteer hours and impact. For instance, individuals must keep track of their volunteer hours to apply for corporate volunteer grants. Volunteer grants are donations that companies make to nonprofits after their employees have volunteered with those organizations for a specified number of hours.
Other grant providers want to see that your organization already has a strong base of support and that you will be able to use the funding to continue running your strong volunteer program.
Some of the data required to apply for a grant may include:
The average amount of hours per activity - When you apply for grants that go toward a specific project or activity, you may need to show your prediction of how many volunteer hours the project will take to complete. Having access to volunteer reports helps make a more accurate prediction.
The number of hours worked a month by each volunteer - Volunteer totals show that there are many people committed to helping your mission and that the money will not go to waste.
Value of hour totals over a specific time of growth - This will showcase the direct impact your volunteers have towards your organization’s goal. It will show the grant application reviewers that you have a strong community of volunteers based on the level of their commitment.
Taking the time to gather reports from your volunteer hour database makes you eligible to apply for a grant. It shows that you are passionate and dedicated to making sure that your volunteers are impactful to your goals.
Improve reporting on your program’s impact
Reporting on the value of your volunteers is important for donors, board members, and other community stakeholders. These individuals want to know that your program is healthy and thriving and that their support has not gone to waste.
Effective time tracking is critical for accurate reporting. With the help of volunteer time tracking tools, you can access foundational information about how long your volunteers are working. From there, you can measure their impact.
There are many ways you can get more precise data to help you improve your volunteer impact reporting process:
Service hours and attendance - Keeping track of the number of hours and attendance of each of your volunteers allows you to keep track of whether or not your monthly averages are going up or down. If volunteer hours or attendance rates are decreasing, you can adjust your outreach or volunteer stewardship strategies to encourage volunteers to deepen their involvement.
Looking at volunteer retention metrics - Tracking your volunteer hours helps you keep track of retention rates to see any patterns as to why your previous volunteers may have left. This allows you to fix those issues so that your future volunteers don’t leave for the same reasons.
Volunteer experience feedback - Creating a standardized survey will allow you to gain feedback on your volunteers’ experiences. Coupling your volunteer hours tracking with volunteer feedback surveys can help you craft a data-driven volunteer retention strategy.
These factors help you assess what’s going well and where there’s room for improvement. Gathering accurate information consistently with time tracking tools will help you better understand volunteer’s impact on your nonprofit program. You’ll also be able to boost trust among stakeholders, showing them your commitment to accurate volunteer impact reporting.
Boost volunteer retention
Volunteer retention is a crucial aspect of your volunteer management strategy. Maintaining volunteer relationships after they have been recruited tends to be more efficient than finding new volunteers. This is because they are already familiar with your program and have already built strong connections with your staff and your program. Plus, committed long-term volunteers tend to be more reliable as they already know the expectations and have gone through your volunteer training.
To boost volunteer retention, think about what your nonprofit is doing to keep your volunteers fulfilled, motivated, and engaged. For example, you can use your volunteer hours tracking tool to create detailed reports to share with volunteers. Showing your volunteers that their contributions positively impact your organization helps in retaining them. They feel a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when they can easily see how their contributions have led to your organization’s success.
Plus, volunteer time tracking data helps you identify volunteers who may be at risk of lapsing by observing certain trends. For instance, you may note that one of your most engaged volunteers has recently decreased their level of involvement. Once you have identified those volunteers, you can work to increase their engagement by improving their experience. You can reach out to them with a volunteer survey or personalized appeal to engage them in what your organization has to offer.
Simplify volunteer appreciation
When your volunteers feel like their efforts are recognized, they are likely to feel connected to your cause and want to continue to give back. Making your volunteers feel excited to come to their shifts should be the goal since they take time out of their busy lives to help you. Investing in your volunteers by providing them with the right tools and support and thanking them frequently goes a long way in getting them more involved with the cause.
Volunteer hour tracking software allows you to see how many hours of hard work your volunteers have put in. A good volunteer management software will allow you to segment your volunteers based on how many hours they have worked. Then, you can reward top volunteers with prizes to incentivize them to stay involved.
Plus, you can use your volunteer tracking software to determine each volunteers’ hours. Then, you can reference their specific contributions in your thank-you notes to them. This shows volunteers that you’ve taken the time to assess their individual contributions and acknowledge their hard work. This can make volunteers excited to continue their involvement and increase their hours in the future.
As a volunteer manager, another way to show volunteer appreciation is by offering volunteers additional opportunities, such as leadership positions that come with greater responsibilities. Offering volunteers professional networking opportunities or letters of recommendation is also a great way to increase the bonds between your organization and its volunteers.
Whether it's through sending a letter, giving a gift, or offering an exciting opportunity, volunteer appreciation efforts go a long way in excellent volunteer performance.
How do you keep track of volunteer hours?
Keeping track of volunteer hours doesn’t need to be complex. Ditching the spreadsheets and emails can not only save your organization time but can eliminate data errors to improve accuracy.
By investing in the right tools, such as a powerful volunteer management software, you will be able to collect and track volunteer hours accurately and easily. Here are two common ways to collect volunteer hours:
Shift Check-in and Check-Out - When a volunteer arrives to work a shift, you can require them to check in and out of that shift themselves on a mobile app, kiosks, or through a shift supervisor. This keeps an accurate timestamp of the exact amount of time each volunteer works, and then that data is easily transferred to your volunteer database.
Manual Hours Submission - A volunteer or a group of volunteers can submit the volunteer hours they have worked to a volunteer manager for approval.
Tracking volunteer time hours allows your nonprofit to optimize your performance. Once you identify the patterns of your volunteers, how many hours they are volunteering, how often they are volunteering, etc., you can start to shape your volunteer program in a way where volunteers fully embrace their roles.
A centralized volunteer database to keep track of all your volunteer data will ensure that your volunteer contact information remains secure, data tracking is accurate, and your opportunities are easily accessible to all your volunteers. This will enable you to focus more of your time and energy on making a change in your community.
Invest in a volunteer management system
A robust volunteer management system helps track volunteer hours and acts as a database for all your organization’s volunteer information. It captures and reports accurate volunteer hours by date, program, role, and shift. This makes your job as a volunteer manager easier, allowing you to segment your volunteer list and tailor communications to offer volunteers a personalized experience, increasing engagement and retention.
How do you know what the best volunteer management software is for you? A suitable volunteer management software should be user-friendly and offer you the flexibility to manage your programs and events. The software should save you time while helping to increase engagement and retention rates to fulfill your goals.
For example, InitLive offers a volunteer management solution that provides nonprofit organizations efficient volunteer management strategies such as scheduling, recruitment, screening, and a volunteer hour tracking log. The goal is to save you administrative time and while increasing volunteer satisfaction and retention at the same time.
To learn more about InitLive's volunteer management solution hour tracking features make sure to click below to watch the feature video.
Incorporate check-in and check-out processes
Having volunteers check-in and check-out of volunteer shifts can help you track which volunteers are doing what and when. One of the most valuable benefits of implementing a check-in and check-out process is reduced workload for volunteer coordinators, allowing them to focus on other program areas. Providing your volunteers the freedom to do this themselves puts less stress on them as well because they don’t feel like someone is constantly monitoring them. This allows them to feel more comfortable, which will show in their work.
Plus, this process provides you with insights on when your volunteers prefer to work, saving you the effort of manually reviewing and recording details. Volunteer check-in and check-out processes are usually integrated with the volunteer management platform; therefore, the data collected is automatically stored in the volunteer management system. You can further reduce barriers by empowering volunteers to log in with ease, improving data accuracy and administrative time.
Gather detailed volunteer information.
Capturing the right volunteer data during the signup process will allow you to improve your volunteers’ experience. Consider collecting important personal details, contact information, availability, preferred roles, and skills and qualifications to have the right information to help you plan. Getting to know volunteers’ skills and strengths can help you place them in their preferred roles, ensuring they are completing tasks that match their skills and interests.
Attaining volunteer demographic information such as their age, education level, income, and occupation can also help you learn more about your volunteers. If volunteers do not prefer giving out specific information, then you can consider coming up with ranges for each category. For instance, you can create age brackets such as 18-24, 25-38, 39-50, 50+. This will allow you to get information without being overly invasive.
The key is to collect an appropriate amount of information without making your volunteers feel that they have no privacy. However, you can inform them that gathering this information helps you enhance your volunteer program to appeal to supporters’ preferences, and it may make them feel more comfortable.
The number of hours volunteers put in to support your organization has a significant impact on your nonprofit’s success. Tracking the number of hours your volunteers have donated allows you to measure their impact and develop volunteer management strategies to save time, improve volunteer retention, and keep your volunteers motivated.
If you are interested in more information, we have compiled a list of other great resources about volunteer management solutions to help your organization thrive:
Volunteer Engagement: Strategies for Smart Organizations - This article will explore how your organization can ensure every volunteer has a meaningful and positive experience through a well-thought-out volunteer management strategy.
Volunteer Management Software: FAQ +18 Top Solutions - Check out this article to get a comprehensive list of volunteer management software providers to help your organization find the right solution.
Corporate Volunteerism: The Complete Guide for 2021 - Explore this article to know what corporate volunteerism is, its benefits, and how to create an engaging program for your nonprofit.