Gleaning Nonprofit Tracks Volunteer Activity with Custom Calendar and Hour Log Fields | Track It Forward

Gleaning Nonprofit Tracks Volunteer Activity with Custom Calendar and Hour Log Fields

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Glean Kentucky Tracks Volunteer Activity and Shifts

Glean Kentucky is a nonprofit organization in the heart of Kentucky that was founded with two issues in mind: food waste and hunger. Just two (soon to be three!) branches deliver donated, excess produce to over 100 recipient sites in the state. Glean Kentucky bridges the ‘meal gap' between sources of excess produce like grocery stores and community distribution centers like food banks. It can be complicated to coordinate volunteers to pick up and deliver produce in a timely manner–that’s where Jimmy Earley comes in!

Headshot of Glean Kentucky Volunteer Coordinator, Jimmy Earley

Jimmy Earley grew up in Central Kentucky, where he is now the Field Coordinator for Glean Kentucky. “Really in a nutshell, we do logistics…we’ll do whatever needs to be done to get produce and get it to folks who need it” he says. “I basically coordinate between food sources, volunteers, and food recipient organizations…the fun part of it is making sure everything lines up!” Produce, especially that being donated by grocery stores, can be difficult to coordinate due to its ability to spoil. “Even though [the produce] is still completely edible, it probably has a short amount of life left, so it has to be picked up and dropped off and [go] home with somebody within an hour or two,” Jimmy explains.

It’s important for Glean Kentucky to track hours for grant applications and reporting, but also to make sure individual shifts don’t take too long. In fact, the organization strives to keep all individual volunteer shifts under an hour, which makes them an attractive place to volunteer.

For some, this challenge may seem like a logistical nightmare. So, how do Jimmy and the Glean Kentucky coordinators do it? It comes down to having the right tools. “I definitely saw that the software we were using to organize all this was just really bad. It was not working well [and] in terms of system performance it was really slow…I looked at a number of solutions and Track it Forward seemed the most elegant in terms of user interface, what you can do with it, and being pretty simple all around. That’s what really attracted me, in terms of trying to create that efficiency,” Jimmy says.

Track it Forward is Completely Customizeable

Track it Forward’s custom fields and calendaring options have worked well for Glean Kentucky because they offer so many different types of volunteer opportunities. “Editing the calendar is super easy for me,” Jimmy says.  “That is a huge thing and I need that to be really easy because…[there are] anywhere between 5-10 different activities per day that people get involved in and a lot of those repeat on a daily or weekly basis…I love the bulk duplicate action, and being able to copy over set volunteers for things as well.” Track it Forward is able to simplify and streamline the process and multiple moving parts when it comes to the Glean Kentucky volunteer program. For example, each region can have around 3-4 grocery store runs per day, 7 days a week. In addition, volunteers are picking up from farmers markets, gleaning at orchards, farms and more.

“[Track it Forward] essentially takes a lot of work off of my shoulders and cuts down on the amount of time I spend having to edit the calendar and volunteer opportunities constantly. In short, it allows me to actually spend time on my job…and a lot less time in front of the computer,” he says.

Volunteers tabling at an event for Glean Kentucky In addition to helping Jimmy and his fellow coordinators, Track it Forward has also improved the volunteer experience. “It’s a little scary to switch over to a new system, even if your old system is terrible,” Jimmy says. “I was a little concerned…but [said] we are going to do this because it’s important…for the future and we really need to have a system that works and that’s pleasant for people to use, and I really felt strongly that Track it Forward was that.”

Since their volunteer base is largely over 60 years old and not necessarily super tech-savvy, Jimmy had some reservations about introducing new software. He decided to put a core group of volunteers to the test. He gave them the link to their Track it Forward test site before rolling it out program-wide.  “I didn’t tell them where anything was. I said ‘I just want you to go in and see how easy it is to sign up for something, and then go back and log your hours and sign off,” Jimmy explains. “The response was immediately really positive from our volunteers…In terms of the overall user experience and user interaction, volunteers across the board loved it!”

It’s important to remember that despite all they do, Glean Kentucky is a small organization of just 6 full-time employees and a fluctuating volunteer base of about 75-100. Yet in one year alone, they gathered 252,317 pounds of produce and logged 3,508 volunteer hours. This is a huge feat, and the more efficiently they can operate, the faster they can grow and continue to serve the community. When asked if he had anything else to share, Jimmy said, “Any time someone asks me what software we use, I say ‘Track it Forward is so great!’ It really has just made my job a lot simpler…and I really feel like it has that capacity to do that for smaller organizations.”

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