I was approached by VolunteerSpot to try out their service. This is a sponsored post but as usual all opinions are my own.
I’ve held the job title “Volunteer Coordinator” before. I worked at a homeless shelter and was in charge of community education and ensuring volunteers were present on a daily basis to help us from the soup kitchen to mail room. It’s not an easy job; you are a human resources manager with a volunteer “staff” who might not be as reliable as someone getting paid for the job. Therefore attracting and maintaining a reliable and committed volunteer base is an art form, and one with professional organizations and certifications to help you. Yet formal organizations are not the only places where volunteers are needed.
In fact, most of the things I’m involved with would not be possible without volunteers. The picture above is the volunteer meeting for a bike ride I participated in. Any race I’ve been a part of has volunteers at water stations, handing out medals and such. Every school I know of has a parent teacher organization led by volunteer parents, and any Pee-Wee soccer team needs a group of people who will give of their free time and energy. We do it because we are committed, but also because it makes us feel good to be a part of something and to contribute to the things that matter to us.
So what do we do when we need to organize a slew of people and we are not part of a large organization with a paid staff person in charge of getting said volunteers? Well, you have options: I’ve used social media groups, sign up sheets on the doors of each classroom, my quirky excel sheets and good ole email. I’ve had to comb through endless threads to remember who volunteered to bring what for when. Now, you have a simpler option: VolunteerSpot. Talk about a LIFESAVER!
You can use it for things big and small. I’ve used it to coordinate parents helping out at our school’s fun run, and plan to use it for our school carnival where I am, you guessed it, the volunteer coordinator. At this event we need over 70 people in six one-hour shifts. It’s a headache to put together!
As an organizer, I can ask for anything I need. From people to do something like take pictures, or bring items from chocolate milk to a folding table. It even has an easy way to create shifts so my color coded excel sheet can now go in the garbage.
You then invite your group to sign up for the items they can help with and voilá: watch the magic happen. You receive notices of how things are going, and volunteers receive reminders so you don’t have to waste time writing and sending those out.
Oh, and guess what? It’s free. And you don’t have to create a profile with a new password and etc. It’s incredibly easy.
So, if you are planning your next activity, check out VolunteerSpot to make life easier. And keep in mind these things I’ve learned throughout the many years of getting the support of volunteers to do all sorts of incredible things I would never be able to do on my own.
- Be grateful. Yes, these volunteers don’t HAVE to do anything. They do it out of their own free will so lay off the guilt trip of “our children will be the only ones without ice cream at the dance if no one volunteers to bring it.” Instead, always use a cheerful, can-do tone, and be as committed to the end goal as you want your volunteers to be. “Let’s make sure our children have the greatest time possible at the dance by getting them ice cream. Who’s in?”
- Not everyone is as computer savvy as you think. But before you go ahead and tell people “Sign up at VolunteerSpot OR let me know how you would like to help,” remember you want to teach them to use the tool not just for this event but for any other. So spend a couple of minutes getting them set up at VolunteerSpot instead of providing an offline option. It’s so easy they will get the hang of it in no time.
- Give plenty of options. Generally people want to help but don’t know how. Give plenty of options so there is something for everyone. For example, I never choose to bring fruit but have a stock of paper goods at home. I always sign up for that, but if all you ask for is food then I am less likely to collaborate.
- Limit your messaging. It’s a fine line between spam and communications. You might be passionate about your event, but not everyone needs to hear about every little detail. Let VolunteerSpot manage the reminders and limit the number of times you send additional messages so that when you do, they are actually read!
- Don’t forget to send a thank you. The only message you cannot forget is showing gratitude. People love to help, but they will be more likely to continue helping if they know you really do appreciate it. With VolunteerSpot you can easily send a quick thank you message and acknowledge that without everyone’s support, your event wouldn’t be able to happen.
So now that you are armed with the right tool and some simple tactics, don’t be shy and raise your hand to coordinate your child’s soccer team, run club or the volunteers at the school carnival. VolunterSpot has got your back!