Disaster Relief Group Uses Track It Forward as Event Scheduling Tool | Track It Forward

Disaster Relief Group Uses Track It Forward as Event Scheduling Tool

Event Scheduler

Using the event tool to schedule events and volunteers.

Simplified Hour Tracking

Using only a few features to accomplish basic tracking data.

Data for Donations

Creating instant reports for statistics for donors.

How Valley Disaster Relief Uses Track It Forward Event Calendar to Track Volunteer Hours

One of Track It Forward’s biggest focuses is to ensure organizations that Track It Forward software can be used as simply or as complex as an organization would like. There are many different features that are available, but not all of them have to be used! 

Track It Forward never wants to force a workflow upon any organization, instead we hope to provide pieces of software that can blend into your existing workflow and organization. 

Valley Disaster Relief is a perfect example of using Track It Forward in a unique way that fits perfectly for their workflow. 

Quote from Kim Dreher, Co-Director of Valley Disaster Relief “We are pretty elementary, we just use the very simplest part of Track It Forward, it just works so well for us that way. It’s not complicated, it is very simple, but my goodness it has grown the organization. It has helped.”

What is Valley Disaster Relief 

Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit America changed a lot of people’s lives. Co-Director of Valley Disaster Relief Kim Dreher went down to Louisiana to help with the clean-up process of the destroyed area. While he was there, he met with members of the Poplar Bluff Missouri Group who served in a ministry that helped during natural disasters. While they were in New Orleans, they helped clear the disaster area. 

When they returned from Louisiana, Dreher and a few others were inspired to create a Disaster Relief organization just like the one they worked with in Louisiana. Two years later, Valley Disaster Relief was formed under Valley Ministry, and now they are heading into their 14th year! 

In 2019, Valley Disaster Relief (VDR) completed 241 separate projects with 49 different volunteers. The organization put in a total of 1,951 volunteer hours. Kim says, “It’s very rewarding we get to work with all kinds of people who need help.”

What They Do

Valley Disaster Relief’s original effort was to clean up tree debris after thunderstorms, hail storms, tornados, and other disasters. Now the majority of their work is helping remove and trim troublesome tres from homes of low-income individuals, nonprofits, churches, and referral organizations. 

The organization owns 24 chainsaws, a chipper and chip truck, a bucket truck, and a mini skid. All of this equipment was bought from donations over the past 14 years. 

VDR does not wish to compete with other tree removal companies, only to help those individuals who cannot afford to pay for tree removal. Tree projects include removing branches from roofs and power lines, removal of dead trees, and clearing trees that are threatening structures.

Valley Disaster Relief has had a long-standing partnership with Habitat for Humanity and their Rock The Block Program. They also work with referral agencies like Aging Resources, Rebuilding Des Moines, and local municipalities. 

VDR has seen the most participation and projects this year than any other year. With the pandemic, many people are staying home and noticing tree dangers in their yards, and many people cannot afford it.

“We are setting all kinds of records, for participation, for the number of jobs we have done, for hours we have put in- we are way way ahead of last year,” says Kim.

Their use of Track It Forward has helped them succeed when it comes to a surge of requests and volunteers. Kim says, “We have just had great volunteer participation this year and I think part of it is COVID-19 because a lot of volunteers are home and they have a desire to help others.”

Valley disaster relief goes from 188 to 299.5 volunteer hours over the course of june 2019- june 2020.

How Valley Disaster Relief Uses Track It Forward

Valley Disaster Relief’s main concerns in using Track It Forward were tracking volunteer hours and projects in order to give monthly reports to donors and allowing volunteers to RSVP to an event.

VDR only uses the event calendar feature in Track It Forward. Each time that Kim gets a new request they add it to a separate spreadsheet that they call a Pending List. Then, each Sunday Kim uploads new events for the week into Track It Forward. 

Once Kim emails all of his volunteers and tells them the week’s schedule is up, they sign up for an event and get notifications from Track It Forward when the event is coming up. This allows him to see how many people are coming to the job site. After the project is completed, Kim goes through and edits the even and verifies the number of hours worked by each volunteer. 

Then, the hours automatically get logged into the Track It Forward system. When they are logged they can be used for data and reports purposes. 

Valley Disaster Relief uses the charts and reports features to draw data and statistics for their donors, the community, and the volunteers to know and have a sense of accomplishment!

“Track It Forward works really well for our people, the way we use the system, it just fits beautifully for us,” says Kim.

Valley Disaster Relief workflow. 1. request (an individual or business reaches out to Kim or VDR to request tree removal) 2. Pending Sheet (Kim places each request on a pending sheet that he goes through to organize a schedule for the week.) 3. Event Creation (Then, Kim makes a weekly schedule in Track It Forward events. He notifies all volunteers when he releases the schedule.) 4. Volunteer Sign-up (volunteers sign-up to attend each event. If they do not have a Track It Forward account, they make one and RSVP.) 5. Project Work / Completion (The volunteers work on their projects, on some occasions the project requires more work, so the event has to be duplicated.) 6. Event Verify (Kim then verifies the event in Track It Forward. When he does this, he inputs the number of hours each volunteer worked.) 7. Automatic Data (Once the event is verified, the data is logged into the system and the volunteers receive a notification of their time!)

Features of Track It Forward that Valley Disaster Relief Uses

  1. Event calendar
    Valley Disaster Relief uses Track It Forward as an event calendar and data collector. By having the software easily adaptable, VDR is able to make weekly events and add details of the tree removal project to the event.
  2. RSVP and Sign-up 
    Volunteers are able to go into their dashboard of Track It Forward and sign-up for events. This is helpful to VDR because it ensures that enough volunteers are coming to the job site and it allows a plan for the volunteers week. 
  3. Verify event hours 
    The verification of the events feature allows Valley Disaster Relief to modify the hours of each volunteer based on the event. It is hard to predict with a project how many hours each volunteer may work, so when Kim verifies these events as completed, he is able to adjust the hours that each volunteer worked, and it is logged into the Track It Forward database. 
  4. Email Notification
    When the event is verified, the volunteer gets a notification. This is helpful to the organization because it allows volunteers to keep track of their own hours if they would like, and also let Kim know if they worked more or less than what was input! 
  5. Duplicate event
    As projects are created and more tree requests come in, there are sometimes more requests in the same location. Some projects require multiple days of assistance or when they are at a location, the individual asks if they can do another project. Kim then goes into the event calendar and duplicates the event. It is simple and takes one step, then the same volunteers or other volunteers can sign up for the second event. 
  6. Reporting 
    One of the most important reasons why Valley Disaster Relief uses Track It Forward for the event schedule is due to the reporting aspect. When Kim verifies an event, the volunteers who signed up for the event automatically get their hours logged. Then, Kim can go into the website and pull automated charts and reports based off of what was logged. This is extremely helpful to VDR because they have a large following of donors and supporters who like to see what they are doing and what they have accomplished.  

How Track It Forward Has Helped Valley Disaster Relief 

The main benefits that Track It Forward has provided in Valley Disaster Relief are that they have been able to see who is coming to tree removal job sites and they have been able to quickly access reports. 

Valley Disaster Relief solely used a spreadsheet before using Track It Forward and was just looking for inexpensive software to help them. 

Kim says, “It seemed like so many other software programs were very expensive and we are not working on a lot of funds. The donations go in and out of a church account, so this was really a great option.”

Another great drawing factor to Track It Forward was the support team in the onboarding process. Kim was having a hard time seeing how Track It Forward could fit into Valley Disaster Relief’s workflow, so they contacted support a few times with questions and scenarios to see how Track It Forward could be used. 

“In the beginning especially, support was so responsive to us to give us new features or ideas, says Kim, “I would ask questions and then they would change something for me in the software to help us.” 

Kim describes Track It Forward as extremely helpful to his specific workflow as well. As a manager of the volunteers and tree removal projects, he never knew who was going to show up to projects, and if it was going to be enough help. 

Valley Disaster Relief crew outside of a jobsite.

As an organization that relies on volunteers and donations, having a system that easily keeps data for them like the number of volunteers, the number of projects, and the number of hours put in is a great way to attract donations. 

“It’s a really helpful tool to gain donations. Showing them real numbers and data of what we have done is a motivator to donate,” says Kim. 

Also, he feels his volunteers are more motivated by Track It Forward software setup as well. When they see their friends signing up or when they get a notification that their hours were submitted, it is a motivator for them to continue volunteering and to do more. 

Track It Forward is pleased to help organizations like Valley Disaster Relief improve their workflow and the great work that they do. Our software is designed to help small organizations just as much as large organizations, without disrupting workflow!

Do you have volunteer program similar to VDR?

Or do you want to use Track It Forward in a simplified way like they did?

Contact us!