Are You Sure You Need A Volunteer Management System? Make Sure To Consider The Other Options First | Track It Forward

Are You Sure You Need A Volunteer Management System? Make Sure To Consider The Other Options First

Written by Kasey Murphy

When most people start looking for a software system to help them with their volunteer management duties, they instantly look up “volunteer management software” which of course, makes sense. But, what most people don’t know is that there are a lot of different types of volunteer management software available that are not as large and robust, and will usually work better for their organization! 

The two main purposes of volunteer management software are to help automate a process that you do as a volunteer coordinator or manager, and to have one system that is a placeholder for multiple different volunteer management tasks like volunteer recruitment, events, and running reports. 

But, if you aren’t a super large organization with the need to do all of these functions, volunteer management systems can be too much for you. Or sometimes if you are a larger organization, the one-stop-shop large volunteer management system just barely does what you wish it would do. Here are a few of the most common negative reviews we saw on review sites from large, robust volunteer management software systems. 

The Most Common Negative Reviews On Review Sites For Large Volunteer Management Software 

  • The system never seemed to get updated.

  • The software was not user-friendly and extremely hard to use and teach to others. 

  • There were too many features that were not needed but forced to use for the system to operate correctly. 

  • The system didn’t seem to have customizable ways to pull reports. 

  • Putting more work into it than you get out of it, seems like it is a lot of work to automate a process when it should just be automated by the software. 

  • It is not adaptable. 

  • Navigation is not smooth. 

  • Clunky, not smooth, too much going on - it is overwhelming! 

If you are interested in seeing which review sites you can trust, or the insider tips on which review sites might be biased - we have something for you! 

If you are a first-time buyer of volunteer management software, or if you have purchased a large volunteer management software and are experiencing any of the issues above, we have a potential solution for you. Having a one-tech solution to do all tasks in one software system sounds ideal, but realistically it might be better and more efficient for your organization to have one or multiple specialized tools and software systems rather than one large, vague general volunteer management software system. 

Your Priorities Should Be The Main Features of The Right Volunteer Software

An important part of this process is realizing that a software system offering you everything and more may not be giving priority to the features you want or need. A robust volunteer management system might not focus on delivering the best event calendar, or different time tracking solutions that work for your organization. They prioritize the “full-package” which can sometimes be too much for some organizations, or will lead to not great or very basic features that are actually a priority. 

For example, if your organization is not concerned about integration, donation tracking, having volunteer applications, and modules in the same area - then volunteer management software may be too much for you because this is what they might prioritize and spend time and effort on making the best.

It is important to figure out the features you really want to be prioritized, you need the best of the best when it comes to these features - and that may just help you find an even better volunteer software for your organization. 

While some things may be nice to have in addition, that does not mean that these smaller “light” volunteer management systems will not have them. You can find a volunteer management system that has the same priorities as you and some additional features that are nice to have, but not necessary to run or overwhelming. 

You can download our matching assessment flow chart and review site guide to help organize your priorities and find a volunteer software that also focuses on these priorities, making sure you have the best when it comes to them. 

Let’s Go Over 4 Different Types of Volunteer Management Software

4 Types of volunteer management software 
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Volunteer Time Tracking Software

Volunteer time tracking software is a volunteer software that is specially designed to make sure you gain accurate information and reports when it comes to how many volunteers your organization has and how many hours each volunteer and the volunteer program as a whole have put into the organization. 

This is great for running reports on volunteer programs and analyzing the impact of volunteers on your organization’s mission. Reports on volunteer time need to be accurate for a lot of organization’s grant writing process, nonprofit eligibility, and for showcasing to donors. Having a volunteer management software that focuses on volunteer time tracking in every aspect is definitely a benefit.

Great time tracking software will have options for you to narrow down or categorize your volunteer’s hour data to help run a multitude of reports. 

Time tracking software like Track It Forward gives many options for organizations to track their volunteer hours. The point of this is not to be overwhelming, but to give organizations the opportunity to pick a time tracking method that matches their existing workflow, so organizations do not have to change the way they operate in order to use this volunteer tracking software system.

For example, if volunteers are used to signing up for events - they can use Track It Forward’s event calendar to RSVP and then log their hours. Or, if volunteers usually sign in and out, there is a Check-In Kiosk and Digital Sign-In sheet with Track It Forward that can do this. All of these methods lead back to time tracking and making sure it is done efficiently, accurately, and easily for volunteers and volunteer managers.

Check out our matching flow chart to see if time tracking software best fits your needs!

Event Sign-Up Software

Event sign-up software can easily be used as a volunteer management tool for organizations that juggle multiple events, have committees and volunteers who respond to different events, and organizations that operate off of an event calendar. 

Event sign-up software will be the most in-depth event management and event calendar volunteer software available. 

When your organization is very event-focused, you not only have multiple events, but your organization runs off of the event calendar. You need to make sure that you have event sign-up software that will work for your organization, combine all the needed information for each event, and be able to have volunteers scheduled and sign up within the event software. 

While volunteer management systems do have event calendars, they usually aren’t updated frequently and don’t give volunteer coordinators the chance to customize their calendars how they would like. 

In a robust volunteer management system, event calendars are usually not the priority. 

We know that event sign-up software may sound simple, but you would be surprised by how many other features some volunteer event software has! 

Volunteer Fundraising or Donation Tracking Software 

This is a type of volunteer management software that will help you track down donations and fundraising efforts. This usually works best for organizations whose volunteers’ main focus is to help fundraising efforts. 

While most volunteer management systems have this built into their system, it may require you to set up and use other features in order for it to work, or if you only want this aspect you will usually pay way too much money for a full robust volunteer management system. 

Tracking monetary donations and volunteer impact when it comes to fundraising is a bit of a different ballgame than just volunteer management. You should find a system that really focuses on making sure this is accurate and easy to do, rather than trying to find a mediocre system that may have these features. 

Again, you might be surprised to find out that there are much simpler and less expensive software that give you your priorities like tracking monetary information. 

Mass Communication Software 

A really great feature of volunteer management software is that all volunteers and employees are in one system and you can automate emails, texts, or manually send out messages to certain groups of people. 

If this is your main focus and priority of volunteer management software, there are definitely some other systems out there for you. Systems that can give you varying conditions of storing contacts, contact information, and different kinds of messages and forms of mass communication. 


So, if not a large volunteer management system, what next? 

While we know it is nice to see what a large, robust volunteer management system can do. A lot of times the volunteer management software is marketing to large organizations that need all of those things. 

We have found that the majority of organizations that may need volunteer software have priorities and they are often upset when those aren't met to the highest standard. Find a software system that really focuses on bringing you the best and easiest software specific to your organization’s needs.  

Remember bigger isn’t always best, and the best volunteer management software will fit into your organization, not make your organization fit around it. 

Once you choose what type of volunteer management system to use, you’ll be surprised to find extra benefits that may follow in some. If you are still confused about what exactly you should be looking for, check out our next article, where we deep dive into different features that you might need, but don't know about yet.