Use Google Forms and Spreadsheets to Track Volunteer Time

Google Forms and Spreadsheets are a great tool to quickly and easily start tracking volunteer hours.  Before we started Track it Forward, that's what we used as well.  There are pros and cons to using Google Forms and Spreadsheets when compared to a digital system like Track it Forward, but if you've already decided Google Forms and Spreadsheets is the way to go, then just make sure to set it up correctly. 

How To Set Up a Google Form

You will need a Google Account in order to complete the next steps

1. Go to Google Forms  and create a new blank form by clicking on the "+" Page

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2. Or you can also go to Google Drive to create a new form by clicking on the "+ New" button, then navigating to "New Form"

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3. Create a Title and Description: Use a simple title to help your volunteers understand the purpose of the form and provide a detailed description, if needed, that may answer any questions that volunteers have. 

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4. Click on Untitled Question to change your next question to Volunteer Name: If possible use a dropdown list of existing volunteers to eliminate error in the spreadsheets. If needed, you can add an "Other" or "New Volunteer" free text field for volunteers who are not listed in the dropdown.

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5. Click on the "+" button to add the next question

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6. Add a new Date field for Date Volunteered: The submission will be timestamped, however, this is especially useful when volunteers don't submit their hours on the date that they volunteered.

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7. Add a new field for Hours: This can either be a Short Answer or Dropdown field.  We do not recommend doing a start/stop time just because that's an advanced calculation in the spreadsheet that is difficult to manipulate.

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8. Add a new Dropdown field for Activity: This should be a fixed list of activities or categories that volunteers participate in. We don't recommend an "Other" field, because you won't know what Other means and you can't track numbers against it.

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9. Lastly, add a new Paragraph field for Notes or Feedback:  This can be used as a good way for volunteers to communicate with the organizer. 

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After all, is done. The result? A beautiful Google Form. 

But we aren't done! You still need to share this with your volunteers and create the Google Spreadsheet so that all the responses get forwarded to one spreadsheet. (That's the easy part!)