Volunteer Follow Up, Cash Handling, and Shift Selection | Track It Forward

Volunteer Follow Up, Cash Handling, and Shift Selection

Written by Melissa Davis


Recap for July 10th-July 19th

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the conversations this week in our Volunteer Coordinator Resource Community!

Volunteer Follow Up

Coordinating volunteers for specific shifts and events can be challenging for many organizations. Oftentimes, volunteer coordinators need to follow up multiple times before there’s enough support to cover the necessary responsibilities. 

In some cases, volunteers might overlook a mass email because it feels too generic and they assume other people probably signed up. Following up with individual emails to volunteers who are most engaged can often yield a better response than generic announcements.Some organizations may also find it beneficial to call/text volunteers directly since emails can sometimes get overlooked or marked as spam.

We're looking for volunteers for an upcoming event. I emailed out to all of the volunteers, but as often happens, we didn't get as many volunteers as we had hoped for. 

I've been encouraged to call volunteers individually, but I feel like I'm bugging them at that point. 

How do you feel about repeatedly asking? Other ways of recruiting for events/needs if you're not getting the interest needed? Thanks so much!

Comments from the group

  • “Sometimes that personal phone call is all it takes. All they can do is: 1.) Say yes. 2.) Say no. 3.) Ignore your call. Make the call and I hope you get more saying yes thank no.”

  • “I would advertise externally and do some focus calls to those who tend to be more engaged”

  • “Definitely could make a difference if you could let people know what the event is.”

  • “You might consider reaching out to your most seasoned volunteers to see if they can share opinions about why people aren’t engaging. They may provide insight on how you can reach out or better promote.”

  • “Also-- usually my recruitment plan for an event is: 1. Mass email to everyone. 2. Individualized email to especially engaged volunteers. 3. Phone call to especially engaged volunteers. You may be interested in doing step 2 first. A lot of people see mass emails and think "they don't need ME, they probably have plenty of help" oR they don't get it at all because it went to spam or they just missed it.”

  • “Don't feel like you are bugging them! I've volunteered at my org after moving on from my staff position. Sometimes I just need an extra, personal invite to engage. Be honest and transparent about the need. If it would make you feel less confrontational, recognize verbally that they may not be available and ask if they know anyone else who you should contact.”

Check out all of the comments here!


Cash handling 

For some organizations, volunteers may be involved with handling cash for ticket sales, a concession stand, or a gift shop. With any volunteer role, it’s important to discuss the expectations and responsibilities of each position to ensure the volunteer is comfortable. 

If volunteers will be involved with payment collection, make sure they receive proper training on the process and any technology being used. If possible, consider pairing them with a staff member or experienced volunteer to ensure there’s support available in the beginning. 

Would love to get some feedback and perspective about how other non profits address cash handling functions. I work for an art museum, with both staff and volunteers. Up to this point, we have never asked volunteers to assist with cash handling. We are now looking at some situations where we might like to have volunteers assist us at large events. (Perhaps even just with a Square, so credit card only) Thoughts? Suggestions?

Feedback from others: 

  • “They may not want that responsibility. Would they have to key in an amount?”

  • “I would definitely ask if they wanted to and give them training, about receipts etc.I think it is a possibility. The only other thing is, it may not go down well with the permanent front of house staff.”

  • “Always have two people involved with money. Not everyone feels comfortable with money either”

  • “Any handling of credit cards, be sure to adhere to PCI standards and training. At our university, rather than having volunteers go through the 16 module annual training staff are required to do, this means having them read and sign a two page security and confidentiality document.”

Add your own thoughts here!


Shift Selection

Coordinating availability and scheduling volunteers can be a time consuming process for organizations. In some cases, volunteers may need to complete certain training before they are eligible to sign up for specific roles. For this reason some of our coordinators prefer to handle all of the scheduling themselves to ensure jobs are covered by qualified volunteers. 

Other coordinators ask volunteers to commit to an ongoing schedule so they know who to expect each day without starting from scratch each week. If your organization currently uses software to manage sign ups, there may be opportunities to limit  available roles based on qualifications. 

How do your volunteers self select what shifts or tasks they’d like to do?
Did anything not work or work particularly well?

Comments from others

  • “....I am the VC for a homeless shelter. Our volunteers have to be trained and reliable. I don't allow them to schedule themselves because they were frequently scheduling themselves for shifts they haven't been properly trained for or they didn't show up at all. Instead, I schedule everything manually.”

  • “At new volunteer orientation, volunteers indicate in writing what teams they're interested in. Then we email them when there are ongoing shift openings (eg, Mondays, 10am- 12pm). If they'd like to make a six-month commitment (or 8 weeks for summer only) for a specific shift opening, then we arrange for training and onboarding. After new volunteers are trained for a specific shift, then they can fill-in to cover absences on other shifts. After they've contributed the minimum # of hours (usually about 50 hours, depending on the position), then they can relinquish their regular shift if they like and become fill-in only…”

  • “....In the website, I can set what roles a volunteer is approved for, so when they go to sign up it automatically filters out opportunities they can’t help with. Giving the volunteers more responsibility/control (they sign themselves up, cancel themselves, check their upcoming shifts on the website) has freed up my time significantly.”

Join the conversation here!