Technology continues to evolve, and consumers are getting more and more accustomed to doing things both online and by themselves. No longer do you need to hire a travel agent to plan a vacation. Instead, you can utilize sites like Priceline or Kayak to book your own airfare, hotels, and make the perfect itinerary. While this is usually a welcomed new way of doing things, other processes that push the onus onto customers aren’t as widely accepted. For example, some of us are resistant to going completely paperless – while others frown upon having to log-in to a web portal to update their address or contact information.
So, how does this all fit into volunteer management? Well, technology solutions like VolunteerLocal have made it easier to recruit and manage volunteers as well as events. But when it comes to actual volunteer data, who should control it? Should volunteers be able to update their own address or phone number? Or, should organizations be ultimately responsible for making any updates? We believe that there is no right answer to this question, and it usually depends on your organization’s unique situation. However, we thought we’d lay out some pros and cons to these two approaches.
Volunteers Self-Schedule (and Complete Registration) Online
- This approach reduces manual work for you and your staff. Not having to reach out to volunteers to make sure their information is accurate can save a significant amount of time.
- Allowing volunteers to control both the registration process and their shift assignments gives them control (and ownership) of the schedules they build. Allowing users to manage their own information can be empowering.
- Accuracy is improved. Consistently collecting new and updated information from your volunteers helps counter (sometimes) changing variables like t-shirt sizes, mailing address, or marital status.
Administrators Manually Input Data & Assign Volunteers
- This approach gives you (the coordinator) total control of volunteers who are entered into your database, and the role(s) or shift time(s) they’re allowed to work.
- Different organizations have different requirements for acceptance and admission to the volunteer program. Holding a little tighter to this volunteer data gives you the ability to fully vet and, when necessary, cross-check volunteer data to ensure that there is no false or misleading information in their profiles.
- When you’re manually adding and assigning volunteers, you’ll naturally have better recall of your volunteers’ personal information, especially if you’re seeing someone’s profile picture each time you open his/her profile in VolunteerLocal. Who doesn’t want to be that coordinator extraordinaire who remembers every volunteer’s name, birthday and unique preferences?!
We hope these thoughts have been helpful to you! Please share in the comments what strategy you’ve chosen and why you made that decision.