Chapter Organization Uses Track It Forward | Track It Forward

Chapter Organization Uses Track It Forward to Save Time With Volunteer Data Input and Organize Volunteer Activities

Running Variations of Reports

The organization is able to create a multitude of reports based on activity, age group, or member status.

Tracking Members and Non-members Volunteer Hours

The organization takes community volunteers as well as members, they can differentiate these hours if they want!

Using Volunteer Hours For Donation Data

The organization is able to create a multitude of reports based on activity, age group, or member status.

Assistance League® of Newport-Mesa Uses Track It Forward For Service Hour Grouping and Organization

Assistance League of Newport-Mesa Assistance League is a national organization with 120 chapters from Hawaii to California to Maryland. There are over 22,000 members that support the national Assistance League and volunteer with their programs. Some chapters even have opportunities for non-members to volunteer in philanthropic programs, thrift shops, or dental centers!

Assistance League supports chapter identity by allowing “chapters to identify local problems and deliver the right solutions.” With 120 chapters, and each chapter having 100+ volunteers, there is a lot of great volunteer work being done for many communities.

Assistance League of Newport-Mesa has just over 250 member volunteers who run the Thrift Shop and Treasures on Consignment shop. In addition to these areas, their volunteer programs include the Cheri Harris Dental Center, Operation School Bell®, Scholarship Program, and the Kids on The Block. These philanthropic programs help bring the community together and provide for children and families that may need assistance.

Property Manager and past president of Assistance League of Newport-Mesa, Tracy Halphide tells us that this Assistance League chapter was started by a group of women who wanted to make a difference in the community. One of the earliest outreach projects was transporting elementary students who needed dental assistance to the dentist and ensuring the bills were paid. The children were often referred by the school nurse.

Now, almost 80 years later, their vision has evolved into a chapter organization that still helps support children and families in need in the community. Resources are generated through the proceeds of sales in the shops, donations, fundraisers, and endowments. Tracy says as the organization has grown, they have learned: “If we take care of the kids as well as their families, the whole family unit thrives.”

The Cheri Harris Dental Center program remains a core volunteer effort for Assistance League of Newport-Mesa. The center serves around 600 patients a year, including children as young as two years old up through young adults up to age thirty. “It’s a low cost program,” Tracy explains. “There are $10 visits for cleanings…we also have an orthodontist program as well which provides half the cost of getting braces.”

Operation School Bell provides clothing to over 1,200 students each year. In addition, dental kits, books, and other basic needs are often requested from Assistance League of Newport-Mesa through the school district. “Operation School Bell is a big umbrella,” Tracy says. “[We have] closets at [school] administrator offices for kids who are homeless…We also provide sack lunches to a soup kitchen for kids who belong to a [reduced] lunch program at school, so they can grab these on their way home for dinner. We’ve provided about 6,000 [of these meals].”

Assistance League of Newport-Mesa also offers scholarships at $3,000 each for high school seniors that they can use at a trade school, community college, or four-year university. “This year we are going to provide about 20 or more…in the past we have done 11 or 12. We have a big fundraiser coming up,” Tracy says.

In addition to the adult members, the chapter has an Assisteens® Auxiliary which includes students in grades 7-12. This allows younger generations to get involved with volunteer work!

Assistance League Assisteens

Tracy adds, “While we are a member volunteer organization, we also have another category that is called a community volunteer.” Community volunteers can offer their time for a short duration if they need to meet a requirement for school, certification, or if they are only available for a short window during the year.

To read more about Assistance League of Newport-Mesa’s volunteer opportunities, go here.

With all of these volunteers and volunteer opportunities, chapter organizations like Assistance League of Newport-Mesa need a stable system to keep their organization, well, organized! 

Process For Volunteering With Assistance League of Newport-Mesa

Why Assistance League Tracks Volunteer Hours 

Chapter organizations need to track volunteer hours for a multitude of reasons. Like most chapter organizations, Assistance League of Newport-Mesa needs to report to the national organization at the end of each fiscal year how many volunteer hours they have contributed to their community.

Tracy explains, “Our national organization likes to have our volunteer hours each year because then they combine it with the total hours from all the chapters to showcase the power of Assistance League.”

In addition, to help prove eligibility to be a 501(c)(3) organization to the IRS, chapter organizations need to have their volunteer hours tracked.

So, accurate records on volunteer hours are pretty important to Assistance League! The process behind recording and getting these volunteer hours in a safe database is not one to take lightly.

Beyond these necessities, Assistance League of Newport-Mesa found that recording their chapter organization’s volunteer hours was useful for soliciting donations. Donors liked to be able to see the efforts they would be putting their money towards.

And to promote awareness of their nonprofit status, Assistance League of Newport-Mesa wanted to get approval from a well-known website, GuideStar. In order to receive the top-level stamp of approval - Platinum - organizations must show that they are focused on measuring progress and results. What better way than to have a volunteer tracking system?

With this in mind, Assistance League of Newport-Mesa decided to categorize the different volunteer opportunities that they offer.

Assistance League of Newport-Mesa can offer volunteer hours in “service” categories as well as “administrative” volunteer hours for their volunteer board or for internal events like fundraisers. It was important for them to distinguish between these two when doing data reports for volunteer hours.

Assistance League of Newport-Mesa also wanted to see the different volunteer programs like the Cheri Harris Dental Center, Operation School Bell, and the Kids on the Block all side-by-side.

“At the end of the year, we need to understand how many hours went towards revenue generation and how many hours went towards philanthropic programs,” says Tracy.

With all of these reasons to track their volunteer hours, a very complex and complete process needs to be in place.

How Assistance League of Newport-Mesa Tracks Volunteer Hours

At first, Assistance League of Newport-Mesa used paper, pens, and email to log volunteer hours. The hours were collected by volunteers and added to a spreadsheet on a quarterly basis. As a large chapter organization, this was found to be a bit of a large time commitment. 

The membership committee had to meet quarterly for a few days just to gather reports. Tracy says, “We were very ‘old school’, using paper and pencil, [and] we had forms that we had to fill out once a quarter which seemed to be difficult for people…Track It Forward is a big time saver.” 

Assistance League of Newport-Mesa uses Track It Forward to help keep track of their volunteer hours, run reports on the data, and create organized data on each individual volunteer program and the chapter as a whole.

Volunteers Use The Mobile App 

One of the main features of Track It Forward that Assistance League of Newport-Mesa wanted to use was the mobile app for volunteers.

With a chapter organization workflow where volunteers log their own hours, Track It Forward volunteer hour logging was easy to implement. Volunteers just log their hours into their Track It Forward volunteer dashboard, and then Assistance League of Newport-Mesa can access the volunteer data through their Track It Forward site!

Tracy says, “We started the search for a web-based solution because we had a lot of the Assisteens group asking if they could log their hours via an app, and some of the younger adult members were asking the same question. After a search of the available options, we found that Track It Forward met all of our criteria.  The website was easy to use and there was an app.”

Volunteers can easily use the mobile app to log their hours and view their volunteer timesheet! 

Reports on Each Volunteer Program

Track It Forward also makes it easy for hours to be logged under each specific program.

Due to their settings in the software, Assistance League of Newport-Mesa was able to have volunteers pick from a drop-down menu which volunteer program they completed. There are service hours - which include all of the volunteer programs: Thrift, Treasures on Consignment, Dental Center, Kids on the Block, or Operation School Bell. There is also an ‘other hours’ category that is used for committee work, board, or administration efforts. These needed to be separate. Below is a depiction of the hour log for Assistance League of Newport-Mesa.

hour log for Assistance League

This segmented hour log allows reports to be made based on these different activities. So, along with reports of all volunteer hours, Assistance League of Newport-Mesa can pull distinct reports based on the activities.

Track It Forward allows reports to be instantly downloaded from the data with multiple variations. Assistance League of Newport-Mesa also creates reports from their Assisteens volunteers which can be sorted by grade. Since the volunteer program is for students who may need their hours for school, this is important to them!

When it comes to reports, Track It Forward saves a lot of time. “We don’t have to do a lot of input, it’s much better than having to submit 250 people’s hours for reports quarterly into a spreadsheet,” Tracy says.

How Chapter Organizations Can Implement Track It Forward

Assistance League of Newport-Mesa uses Track It Forward for its standard features - volunteer hour logging and time tracking!

Tracy says, “Overall, it really has been an easy tool for us to adapt, we chose it because of the interface on the app, and because of the backend data we can pull out of it.”

One thing that chapter organizations may struggle with is thinking of how to move from their current method of time tracking to using software or Track It Forward.

Track It Forward focuses on creating an easy transition process for organizations. Assistance League of Newport-Mesa used a beta group to test Track It Forward for the first year. Twenty of their 250 volunteers used Track It Forward for a year to make sure they ironed out all of the details with setting up the software. 

Tracy says, “We really took the time to understand what our needs were as well as the capabilities of the program and that made it better so when we rolled it out full-scale, everything was ironed out at that point.”

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