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Hope Smiles Tracks the Value of Volunteers with Track it Forward

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Whitney Wilson is a Dentist at Hope Smiles, a Christian organization dedicated towards offering free dental care for individuals who don’t have insurance or any other means to afford dental care. Hope Smiles runs much like a regular dental office, except a large portion of their staff are volunteers. Also, as a nonprofit, they have strict reporting processes for grants and donations. Accurately tracking volunteer hours is essential in calculating the value of volunteers, especially for more specialized and higher paying roles like dentistry.


Before discovering Track it Forward, Hope Smiles used paper forms to track volunteer hours and added hours up manually. Often times, the papers would just keep piling up in the binder, because the task of sorting through them was very time-consuming and messy. It was also very difficult to sort the volunteers by their different roles, because being able to categorize volunteer hours is essential for calculating the value of volunteer hours.  Hope Smiles uses Track it Forward to track this key metric, and below is a sample of some of the categories they use in building custom reports:

 

Whitney has been using Track it Forward for over a year now, and she says, “Tracking volunteers is easier now that we have Track it Forward, especially because we can automatically generate forms and reports. It’s saved us a lot of time. It’s very user-friendly!”


Including volunteer hours is a requirement in the application and reporting purposes for grants and donations. It’s important for funders to know much it would cost if the work at Hope Smiles was done by people who weren’t volunteers. In order to calculate this accurately, Hope Smiles needs to separately calculate the value of dentist hours versus the value of administration hours.


Additionally, Hope Smiles uses volunteer data to thank their volunteers. “If someone is going above and beyond, we can thank them with very good evidence. It’s really nice to be able to do that for them,” says Whitney. She often thanks volunteers with hand-written notes and is able to communicate how much of an impact each volunteer has had on the organization. She attributes much of her success in engaging volunteers to easy reporting features on Track it Forward. She can log in and immediately see a list of names, their service category, and how many hours they have contributed so far this year.


Hope Smiles does a lot of outreach events in different areas of the Tennessee, and a goal of theirs is to be able to track trends of volunteer hours to inform event planning. The success of their events depends a largely on the amount of time volunteers are willing and able to contribute.


Over the past year working at Hope Smiles, Whitney has learned a lot about dentistry and service. She has the best job she could ask for, being able to give her time to people who are often forgotten about while also utilizing her skills. “Dentistry is important and often overlooked,” she says, “I love being able to help take away pain or make teeth for someone who hasn’t had teeth for several years.” In her free time, Whitney loves to run, cook, and spend time with her husband exploring good food and music in the city of Nashville.



Picture, left to right: Megan Arnold (Dental Assistant), Whitney Wilson (Dentist), Sarah Andereck (Administrative Assistant).