Dig Deeper When Comparing Volunteer Management Systems - We’ll Show You How | Track It Forward

Dig Deeper When Comparing Volunteer Management Systems - We’ll Show You How

Written by Kasey Murphy

If you are just starting out with your volunteer management search, we recommend you read our first article to learn more about how to start your search. But, if this isn’t your first rodeo when it comes to finding a volunteer management software system or at least doing the research, we are here to help you dig deeper into volunteer software and look at the fine print. 

As a volunteer time tracking system, Track It Forward works very hard on making sure small details are perfect when it comes to time tracking. And although you might not notice them at first glance, you sure will once you have been using the software for years. Every other volunteer management software system is the same way. There is something that they focus on that might seem small or insignificant, but it will actually be a great thing to notice for the future. 

Some of these things might not be important to you, which is totally okay. But, it is still good to think about if you would like them to be an option at some point in time. 

When it comes down to volunteer management software, a lot of them are great and many will work for your organization. Examining details deeply will help you go one step further in finding and comparing great volunteer management software systems that will be the ultimate best for your organization. 

It is also important to remember that sometimes the features that are being promoted and on the front page are just categories of features and there are usually more detailed features to a software program. So, it is always important to look into the detailed features! 

If you are looking for a more step-by-step process for evaluating and comparing volunteer management software systems, check out our next article, The Full 10 Steps To Comparing Volunteer Management Systems - An Insider's Perspective! 

Here are some general options for you to look into within any type of volunteer software: 

  • Do they have guides or help articles if you get stuck on something? 

  • Is their website clean, has a great design, and fast? 

  • Do they seem interested in making sure the users are satisfied with the product? 

  • How long have they been making volunteer software? 

  • How often do they update their software and features? 

  • Are they engaged in the volunteering community? 

  • Do they seem genuinely interested in making sure you are the right fit for their software? 

Here Are Some Things You Can Ask Every Volunteer Software Company

7 General Questions To Ask Potential Volunteer Software Systems 

Guides / Help Articles :To help make sure that you are more than just a sale, ask how they continue to help customers after they purchase. Check out the website for guides, help articles, and support videos to make sure the company wishes to provide flawless support. 

Design? Clean and Fast Website? 
A software company's design is a great indicator of how the design of the software will be. This may not be a priority but it can be a consideration. Also, how does the website function? If it is bulky and slow - the software system probably is too! 

User Experience? 
Is the user experience mentioned in their website at all? You want to make sure you are investing in a company that cares about its users. And you want a software that actually does its purpose - make your job easier!! 

How experienced are the developers and the company you are about to use? We are all for startups and beginners, everyone has to start somewhere! But make sure you are going to be using a system that has perfected any flaws and knows a thing or two about the business. 

Software updates sound mundane, but they can actually help improve your experience and help you advance into more benefits. Updates should never badly effect you, but it is nice to know how often you can expect software to change - especially if it is modernizing! 

Knowledgeable? How engaged is your volunteer software organization within the volunteer community? The best creators are those who know their audience, change with their audience, and learn with their audience. Is your software organization doing the best they can to be up to date on volunteer program trends? 

Interest? You want an honest and genuine software company that only wants you as much as you would be a good fit. No software company should want to force you into buying, the best kind of software companies want to ensure that you, too are a great fit for their organization as well!

Details To Compare Within Different Types of Volunteer Software

Within each category of volunteer management software, there are different details to compare to showcase how involved and detailed the software system is. In addition, it will help showcase if the volunteer software is aligned with the priorities of your organization and what exactly you need in a volunteer software system. 

Volunteer Time Tracking Software 

If you have decided that one of your main priorities is tracking volunteers, their time within the organization, and their impact - then you have decided to start looking at volunteer time tracking software. 

The basics that you would expect from a volunteer time tracking software would be for an hour log system, a great reporting system, and a place for volunteers to view their own hours. 

Some other features you can look into that might be important are: 

  • A Milestone Program - this helps volunteers track their progress towards a goal or a requirement! If it is in the software, it will encourage volunteers to log their hours and it will help you keep track of who is at their goals.

  • Multiple Ways To Track Hours - A great volunteer time tracking software will work with your organization’s workflow to make sure that volunteers will track and log hours accurately. This means that there are different ways to track hours besides just filling out an hour log. A check-in kiosk is an example of this! 

  • An Event Calendar - this might be an extra feature, but it can be used to help volunteers and volunteer coordinators plan out their time! And can you log hours from your event calendar? 

  • Conditional Logic/ Custom Hour Log - This feature would allow admins to create questions in an hour log or when a volunteer hour is logged that help organize volunteer hours. A volunteer time tracking software system should have this to help create variated reports and to help showcase certain impacts within the volunteer program. Conditional logic is an additional feature to this, allowing specific questions to be asked only if a previous question is answered a certain way. 

Track It Forward has all of these features! If you are looking for volunteer software systems that prioritize tracking volunteer time effectively and wish to make time tracking and pulling reports easy - check it out!

Volunteer Management Software

Robust volunteer management software systems tend to market as if they “offer it all” - all the features you could possibly need. For some people, this might seem great, but if you are one of those people that appreciates having the best of the best- this might not be the case for you, because volunteer management software systems can sometimes focus on quantity of features over quality. 

Some details within certain features that you might find important are:

  • Onboarding Tools - A lot of volunteer management software systems will advertise that they have volunteer onboarding tools, but what are they? Are there signup forms that you can link to? Do these people have to have an account? Can you give quizzes and training courses on the software? Can you see who has done their training? These are all important things to look into. 

  • Group Volunteer Features - Make sure the volunteer management software can accommodate all types of volunteers that you have, and are the group volunteers priced differently? 

  • Interconnectivity - Since the major pro of using robust volunteer management software systems are having a lot of operations in one place, you’ll want to check how connected they are. Will there be any repeat data if it is submitted in two different ways? Can you see all the actions a volunteer does within the software in one place? What different things can the reports showcase?

Event Sign-Up Volunteer Software 

Event sign-up software is not as simple as having a calendar and allowing volunteers to sign up for events. Those of you who rely on a great event calendar, or are looking for a new event calendar volunteer software system know this.

Here are some other things you might find important for in an event software system: 

  • Hour logging - If you would like your volunteers to log hours within the event calendar system, this is definitely a detail that you need to ask about. Not all event software has a way to do this. 

  • Group Event Registration - Make sure one person can sign up on behalf of a group, this helps incorporate more volunteers into the events. 

  • Multi-Day Events - Some basic calendar options do not offer events to span over multiple days, make sure you can do this and setup shifts. 

Donation Tracking Software Systems 

While most people have donation tracking built into their robust volunteer management systems, sometimes people just want their own donation tracking system - which is completely understandable. It is good to have a very accurate system when it comes to finances. Beyond just tracking who gave you x amount of money, there are some features and details to look for in a donation tracking software

If you are looking for a donation tracking software system, be sure to know if the following things are going to be needed:  

  • Online Fundraising - Especially in a pandemic world, see if you can find a software that will help you create virtual and online fundraising simple. This is a great way to market your organization and get some fundraising along the way. Even further than this, see if you can track what online outlet gave you the most fundraising. 

  • Donor Insights and Development - Your donor tracking software can, in a way, be like a built-in CRM. You can gather data on each donor, see their progress over time, and you should be able to pull up any interaction your organization has had with the donor. 

  • Automated data entry - Just like volunteers would track time, donors should easily be able to donate. Some may even want to on an annual basis - find a software that can help you remind them! 

Sneak Peek of Volunteer Management Software Deatiled Features Glossary

If you are interested in downloading a full features glossary of terms you might want to know, as well as a checklist to organize these features, download our full glossary now! 

Mass Communication Tools 

If your organization does a lot of outreach - to both volunteers and donors - you might have found that you would love a really complex mass communication software! Mass Communication Software can be as simple or as complex as you would like, but most of them are very easy to operate. 

Beyond being able to schedule notifications in a variety of formats, your mass communication tools should have other features.

Here are some examples of complex features you might need to consider: 

  • Differrnt Mass Communication Techniques- if you wanted to connect to a group of volunteers in real time while they were volunteering - you could easily do that from the software, or set up automated techniques! 

  • Collect audience responses and reports - gather reports on email opens, text opens, who responds, and who usually doesn’t! This can help create a user profile in the system so you can predict their satisfaction and next move. 

  • Create surveys - you might want to send out a survey at the end of the day asking about your organization’s event and how you can improve, make sure your software can give you more options for communicating with your volunteers beyond just sending event reminders. 

We know it can be a lot to think about, first, you might be thinking about volunteer management software, then realize you might be better off with a different type of volunteer software and then be told to look into all these new features you didn’t really know about before. But, it is so much easier to be educated on the different types of volunteer management software and know what to look for! Then, when you finally find one you will be so happy you went through the effort because it will fit your organization like a glove! 

If you are looking for a more step-by-step process for evaluating and comparing volunteer management software systems, check out our next article, The Full 10 Steps To Comparing Volunteer Management Systems - An Insider's Perspective! You'll get tips and tricks of purchasing software from our very own sales team!