How Volunteer Tracking & Volunteer Rewards Are Correlated | Track It Forward

Volunteer Recognition is Only a Part of Having a Successful Time Tracking System

Last updated by James McBryan on 10/07/2021


Over the years, we've seen many ways to track volunteer hours: Paper sign-ins,  Google sheets, Excel Spreadsheets, web-based time tracking platforms etc. regardless of how you track service learning hours, they all have strengths and weaknesses. However, regardless of the type of organization, size or the way they track hours, coordinators are still struggling to get their volunteers to actually track hours!

That's right, you're not alone. 

There are many great resources out there sharing about how to incentivize volunteers, reward volunteers, and motivate them to participate more with organizations. Yet, for some, they still cannot get their volunteers to keep a record of their community service hours.

We'll admit, we've lost (and won back again) some customers due to the fact that their volunteers simply weren't logging hours. So we went on a mission to help volunteer coordinators with retaining volunteers and getting them to start tracking their community service hours.

Here are the 5 basic myths that we have to break:

Myth #1: My volunteers are smart, they will get it on their own

Ok, part of that is true - your volunteers ARE smart. However, if you don't offer proper training, provide resources, or even at the bare minimum introduce or explain the system, you cannot expect them to figure it all out on their own! The better you set up your organization for success, the more successful it will be. Yes, you may have to do some extra work up front, however, it'll be worth it and will save you time in the long run. If you don't know where to begin, visit our star child site for ideas on what to add to your website about Track it Forward, also share with your volunteers the links to our videos and articles for additional help.  

Myth #2: Not everyone in the organization needs to track hours

There's an old saying that goes like this - "Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things." Like it or not, you are always leading by example. To achieve great results, regardless of the volunteer program you are leading, it is important that you lead by example. It doesn't matter if you're a parent volunteer, principle, PTO member, vice president or president of the organization. If your volunteers see everyone from the top - down volunteering and logging their hours, then it'll motivate the rest to follow. Try it!

Myth #3: We don't need to keep track of milestones

We get it, you don't want to set milestones because you don't want your volunteers to feel obligated to serve. However, have you considered ways to increase volunteerism by simple establishing some incentives? You don't have to give out any fancy rewards, we've shared in the past some free ways to incentivize volunteers, but even a simple thank you card can go a long way. Learn from our customers who do it well- Theatres offering free show passes, State Parks offering free stays, Museums offering free memberships, and the list goes on. These people have truly learned how to get their volunteers to track hours and their participation is booming because of it! With a software dedicated to volunteer time tracking, it becomes even easier to manage and keep track of milestones, without having to do a lot of data manipulation.

Myth #4: Our forms need to include a lot of questions

Has it crossed your mind, that volunteers simply may not be keeping track of their hours because it's too difficult and not user-friendly (like it used to be in Stanford University) to do it your way? If your tracking system isn't making life easier for volunteers, if they feel like it's a hassle or time consuming or even worthless, I hate to break it to you, but they will be a lot less likely to do it. If they need to provide repetitive information after each event or if there are a million questions to answer, they just won't want to do it! So keep it simple. Ask for what matters. Track it Forward allows you to configure your forms, so that the volunteer information is entered only once, and it's easy to update, plus the volunteer hour form is easily accessible, quick to fill out, and available to retrieve in the future if needed. 

Myth #5: Nobody cares what we or anyone else are doing

With the news always filled with crime and violence these days, people are hungry for optimistic stories that have a chance of bringing a glimpse of hope and happiness into their lives. Why do you think that cat and baby videos always go viral? People love to laugh and be a part of something joyful. We're not saying that you have to go a create a video that can go viral, but share with the world what your volunteers are doing! Spread the happiness, show photos, and share videos of how your organization is making an impact and changing the world. The recognition will fire up your current volunteers to continue what they are doing and you have the opportunity to find other volunteers to become a part of your cause and make a difference. 

With all that said... maybe this stuff is obvious or maybe we just blew your mind! Regardless, if you follow these basic principles that we shared, you will have a much higher chance of getting your volunteers to track hours.