Ultimate Guide To Volunteer Time Tracking Spreadsheets & Google Forms | Track It Forward

Use Google Forms and Spreadsheets to Track Volunteer Time

Last updated by Kasey Murphy on 10/07/2021

You are probably starting to realize how important it is to keep track of your volunteer time, but it seems to be consuming your role as a Volunteer Coordinator. Time tracking does not have to be difficult, you do not have to drown in paperwork, volunteer tracking forms, or time tracking spreadsheets. 

There are other options than a manual time tracking spreadsheet. We are going to show you the most cost-friendly volunteer tracking form and time tracking spreadsheet option!

But remember, just because it is cost-effective doesn’t mean it is straight-forward and simple to implement, which is why we are going to walk you through it! 

Using Google Forms and Google Sheets for automated time tracking spreadsheets can be a great way to automate your volunteer time tracking system; but there is still some work required. 

And If you think you are a master at Google Forms, you might feel like you don’t need a tutorial on creating a Google Forms time tracking system. But, we have one question for you - have you conquered pivot tables?

If you are wondering what a pivot table is, don’t worry we explain later in this article and in our downloadable guide, The Ultimate Guide To Using Google Forms and Sheets as a Volunteer Time Tracking Tool. 

Google Forms and Google Sheets must be set up correctly in order for it to accurately be a volunteer tracking form, time tracking spreadsheet, and reporting system for your organization. 

If you are starting to wonder if you can pull off setting up Google Forms and Google Sheets correctly don’t worry, we are going to help! You can use this post and our downloadable guide to help build the volunteer tracking spreadsheet template for your organization! 

Basic Breakdown of Google Forms & Sheets Time Tracking 

5 STeps tO CREATING GOOGLE FORMS & SPREADSHEETS 
TO TRACK VOLUNTEER HOURS
1. CREATE YOUR GOOGLE FORM & MAKE IT A VOLUNTEER TRACKING FORM
Create your Google Form from scratch and add the necessary metrics to assimilate a volunteer tracking form. 
2.  PICK THE RIGHT TIME TRACKING QUESTIONS 
Ask the right questions to get the volunteer time tracking metrics. And don't forget - you need to ask the right amount so volunteers don't feel overwhelmed or unmotivated. 
3. ESTABLISH RIGHTS & PERMISSIONS ON THE GOOGLE FORM
Decide how you will showcase your form and make sure that everyone can access it!

4. PREPARE TO DOWNLOAD THE FORM INTO A SPREADSHEET
Create the spreadsheets where all the data will be aggregated and go  

5. CREATE YOUR PIVOT TABLES
In your spreadsheet of data, create pivot tables to showcase the data in an organized and analyzable way, this is how you will draw up your reports!

We are going to go through the basic breakdown of creating a Google Forms Timesheet and using the Google Forms Spreadsheet as a Time Tracking Spreadsheet for your organization. 

But, you’ll want to download our Ultimate Guide to ensure you get everything correct. Be sure to follow this thoroughly, or you might not end up with the right results! 

1. Create Your Google Form and Turn It Into A Volunteer Tracking Form 

Google Forms can be used for a multitude of things, surveys and quizzes are amongst the most popular. When you go to create a Google Form from scratch, you might feel a little lost as to how you can turn this into a Volunteer Tracking Form. 

Based on the set-up and questions you ask, your Google Form can quickly be transformed into a Volunteer Time Tracking Form. 

If you’d rather just copy our optimized volunteer time tracking form template, or at least look at it for some guidance, download our Ultimate Guide! There’s a template in there for you! 

Creating a Google Form might seem straight-forward, but making a Google Form for volunteer time tracking purposes is a little more complex. Google Forms have 11 different question styles that can help you categorize your Google Forms Timesheet.  And the questions that you ask and how you ask them do matter when it comes to your volunteers answering and the reporting capabilities. 

2. Pick The Right Time Tracking Questions 

The questions that you ask will be answered by volunteers. Then, these answers will go into a Google Sheets document - if you set it up correctly, for you to analyze. You can call this your Google Forms Timesheet, or your Volunteer Time Tracking Spreadsheet. 

Either way - you are going to need to set up the right question format to get the data you need on the spreadsheet, and you are going to need to make sure you have the right amount of questions to ensure your volunteers aren’t overwhelmed! 

So, how many questions should you be asking in this Google Volunteer Tracking Form? How do you make sure you get the right data? 

If you ask too many questions, volunteers might feel unmotivated to track their time. If you ask too little questions, or questions that don’t deliver clear metrics - your time tracking spreadsheet will not turn out how you want. 

We can help showcase what we feel is the most optimal way to create and order the questions on your time tracking form, just check it out on our guide!

Your time tracking spreadsheet will download from the Google Form and it will basically be a time tracking spreadsheet with all of the data answered from your volunteer tracking form. 

This can be where you will gather data like the number of hours volunteered, what committee or part of the organization they volunteered with, and more, but only if you have pivot tables set up correctly will this be easy to analyze! 

3. Establish Rights & Permissions on Google Forms 

There are a few options for this particular part of setting up Google Forms & Google Sheets as a time tracking tool for your organization. 

If you don’t do this step - people will not be able to access the volunteer time tracking form!! 

In the settings, you must change the restrictions of who can see the forms. Then, you can decide how you would like to share the form, and if you get notifications from the responses: 

  • send the form via email to everyone directly from Google - useful for the initial introduction, and as a reminder after events.

  • share a link on your website - useful if you have a designated volunteer page, resource page, or if you’re just posting a reminder in your online announcements.

  • embed the form on your website - also useful on a designated volunteer page and much easier if you have a webmaster or someone familiar with HTML embedding.

Once you do this step correctly, you won’t have to worry about it again! 

Sound complicated, or are you having a hard time visualizing how to do this? Don’t worry! We have a video in our guide where you can see exactly what we mean. You got this! 

4. Prepare The Google Sheets Download To Be An Accurate Volunteer Time Tracking Spreadsheet 

This is the most important part! There is no point in setting up a Google Form Tracking Form if you don’t get the results from the form instantly downloaded. 

This is a great part of using Google Forms to create  Volunteer Timesheets or a Time Tracking Spreadsheet because you will get a Google Sheet - which is a spreadsheet- with all of the information from the form!  

But, keep in mind that you will probably need to organize this in a specific way and maybe add formulas to add the hours together or categorize the volunteer responses, and you’ll definitely need pivot tables to be able to analyze the data easily! 

Simply click on the responses tab in your Google Forms, and open a spreadsheet with the green Google Sheets icon. 

Stuck? We will show you exactly how to do this (with pictures!) in our guide

So the Google Volunteer Tracking Form Responses will now instantly dump data into your spreadsheet. The action of pulling reports automatically from this google sheets spreadsheet is a whole different ball game. 

In order to get reports that you can analyze from your new Google Sheets Time Tracking Spreadsheet - aka to make this data useful to you automatically- you have to create pivot tables. 

Still With Us? Let’s Introduce You To Pivot Tables For Your Volunteer Tracking Spreadsheet 

Pivot tables... Have you heard of them? 

Pivot Tables are crucial to making your google time tracking system work. There is no point in setting up the google forms or spreadsheets if you are not going to also set up pivot tables. They are the glue for success for your time tracking spreadsheets.

 

By definition, a pivot table is a programming tool that allows you to reorganize and summarize selected columns and rows of data in a spreadsheet or database table to obtain the desired report.

Still gibberish?

We know… Pivot tables are definitely an advanced topic, that's why some people prefer to save time, money, and headache by using a program that automatically generates these reports (and others) for them. But if you're sold on using a spreadsheet then you have to use pivot tables to save you time, or else your time tracking program may fail altogether (Seriously).

Here’s an example of what your Google Sheets time tracking spreadsheet could look like if you use Pivot Tables versus if you decide not to. 

Google Sheets Reports With & Without Pivot Tables 

With Pivot Tables (A spreadsheet with a lot of data, uncategorized) 

without pivot tables (A spreadsheet of volunteer names, the category they volunteered in, the amount of hours per category, and a volunteer total)

We recommend creating pivot tables to categorize your volunteer tracking form data :

  • By Volunteer Name

  • By Activity

  • By Volunteer Name & Activity

At the very least! 

If you are thinking there is no way you can set this up on my own, we don’t blame you. But, if you want to give it a go, download our Guide and we will do our best to help you set them up accurately to gain the best volunteer time tracking spreadsheet. We will show you videos, step-by-step tutorials and screenshots of how exactly to make everything work! 

So, Who Exactly Is Google Forms Time Tracking Spreadsheets For And Will It Actually Work?  

In our professional opinion, we have seen Google Forms & Sheets time tracking work well for some organizations, but we have also had organizations come to us from using Google Forms and Sheets that are extremely frustrated. Even when they had it set up correctly, it just was not for them! 

We think using Google Forms and Sheets as a time tracking spreadsheet is best for organizations who have only basic reporting needs when it comes to volunteer time tracking and are ultra budget-strapped, with more time than money on their hands.

  • If your organization likes using Volunteer Tracking Forms and does not require much attention, approval, or oversight - Google Forms Timesheets and Tracking Forms might work out great for you once you set it up correctly and are prepared to maintain it from time to time!
  • We also think Google Forms and Sheets volunteer time tracking might be good for newer volunteer programs that are still figuring out their workflow and how volunteers will track the most hours, or even volunteer programs with a large group of one-time volunteers. 
  • If you are comfortable with spreadsheets and pivot tables as well, a volunteer tracking spreadsheet system like Google Sheets might work great for you! 

But, if you are a volunteer program that likes to monitor volunteer hours easily, or has volunteer hours that need to be approved - using Google Forms and Sheets to create A Volunteer Time Tracking Spreadsheet might not provide the value you’re looking for in the long run. 

  • If you are a volunteer organization that likes to track things other than volunteer hours, and likes to have the opportunity to edit data - using Google Forms as Volunteer Time Tracking Forms and Google Sheets As Volunteer Time Tracking Spreadsheets will probably be a bit confusing and not work out the best for you. We suggest you look into a program that can easily distinguish these for you!  
  • If you are considering using Google Forms and Sheets for Volunteer Timesheets to start off your volunteer time tracking program, but plan to move on to something more substantial in the long run, it honestly might not be worth the time and effort to set up. 
  • If you are looking for a great foundation for a volunteer time tracking system, you would probably benefit from looking for a perfect tool now instead, to save your organization time and maintenance. 

But, don’t fear. There are many volunteer time tracking tools that have more features that can help volunteer programs that fall into these categories! 

At this point, you might be questioning if using Google Forms and Sheets as a Volunteer Time Tracking system is the best way for your organization to go, and we want you to know exactly what the pros and cons of using Google Forms and Google Sheets are before diving in. 

We know how frustrating it can be to search for a solution to your problem, only to find more problems! We don’t want you to spend too much time on this method, only to find more cons than pros. So, in our downloadable guide, we have created a pros and cons list. Check it out! 

Looking For A Google Sheets Time Tracking Template? You Can Simply Copy Ours! 

You fearless and determined people that have made it this far, we are not going to leave you hanging! To help make sure you set up your volunteer time tracking in Google Forms & Sheets correctly we have: 

  • a step-by-step guide to using Google Forms as Volunteer Tracking Forms

  • A pros and cons list of using Google Forms & Sheets for volunteer time tracking 

  • The 5 common mistakes to avoid when using Google Forms & Sheets 

  • A pivot tables and reporting video tutorial for you to follow to analyze your Google Sheets Time Tracking Spreadsheet

  • AND a volunteer time tracking spreadsheet template to use with your organization

Just enter your email below for access to all this. We don’t think you will regret it!