How is technology changing volunteering?

We take a look at how technology has changed volunteering, including a few simple ways to embrace technology into your volunteer management program.

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” 

This essence of volunteering hasn’t changed over the years. It remains a pivotal way to build strong and connected communities, promote equality and improve the world. What has changed, however, is the way volunteer involving organizations and volunteers themselves find, engage with and manage the process.

Technology has become invaluable in every aspect of our lives - including volunteering. One way technology has impacted the industry is through volunteer management software. However, not all technology is created equally. Below, we explain how volunteer involving organizations can utilize technology to improve their services.

In this article, we’ll discuss how, and what types of technology have changed volunteering, along with a few simple ways to embrace technology. So, even if you’re part of a legacy organization, you have staff that are resistant to change, or reluctant to embracing digital transformation, you’ll be able to understand how technology, and specifically volunteer management software, can be used to improve your volunteer program. 


How has technology changed the volunteering world?

Technology – including cloud technology, volunteer management software, social media, apps and virtual volunteering tools – has enabled organizations to work more efficiently. The time previously spent on tasks like volunteer recruitment, calling volunteers to fill shifts, collecting and uploading licenses and certificates, running training sessions and completing tedious admin tasks such as collating registration forms can all be automated using technology. This frees up valuable resources and time that can be better spent increasing company impact.

On the other side of the equation, it has encouraged volunteers to find and engage with volunteer opportunities in new ways. In fact, a Zapier study from 2020 found that 58% of Americans are more inclined to volunteer with non-profit organizations that offer better technology solutions for participants to use while volunteering. 

This includes volunteer job boards that allow volunteers to search through the available roles and filter based on their interests and skills. Technology has also opened up a world of virtual volunteering - allowing volunteers from all walks of life to engage and contribute meaningfully from the comfort of their own home. Volunteers sitting at home in Australia can help count animals in the African plains, or answer the phone to help translate a document for a refugee on the other side of the world in real time.


5 ways that technology is impacting volunteering


1. Episodic volunteering

One of the commonly reported barriers for volunteering is lack of time. Episodic volunteering has become another option to combat this, thanks to technology. Opportunities that don't require an ongoing weekly commitment, such as helping out at an annual event, or selling raffle tickets can be easily managed with volunteer management software. With automated onboarding, rostering and training, it doesn’t take any extra effort for the organization to recruit short-term volunteers, as it does to have regular ongoing volunteers.  So, by being open to episodic volunteers, you still get volunteer commitment and engagement, while offering flexibility. 


2. Virtual volunteering

More than a third of Americans (36%) plan to volunteer virtually in 2022, according to a recent study by Zapier. In Australia, 76% of volunteers indicated they’d taken up virtual volunteering in 2020.

This growing trend towards virtual volunteering has only been possible due to technological advances. From apps that allow volunteers to teach online, through to online translation and document editing, many organizations rely on virtual volunteers to help out with their important tasks. Other tasks that can be completed virtually include phone counseling, translating, graphic design, admin, legal work and teaching. Hiring virtual volunteers to do these roles enables organizations to expand their talent pool, reduce the need for additional office space, and save money on services such as phones and internet.


3. Social volunteering

Technology has turned volunteering into a social endeavor. With smartphones, social media, live recording and streaming, many people see volunteering as a social activity. Whether it be volunteering abroad, or for a local charity run or corporate volunteering day, everything is recorded and shared online instantly. This allows volunteers to use the experience to boost their social presence, while increasing awareness of the charity or project to a larger audience. 

Social media groups also allow volunteers to stay in touch easily, and build connections outside of the volunteering experience. It’s also a great place to grow volunteer numbers through word-of-mouth.


4. Millennial volunteering

Millennials (anyone born between 1981-1996) find it easier to engage with technology over any other means of communication. In fact, they expect to be able to do most tasks online, and may be put off if an organization doesn’t have access to digital tools. Utilize technology to recruit millennial volunteers for your organization and reap the benefits of their technical skills, networks, teamwork, compassion and energy.


5. Volunteer workforce management

Technology can help with workforce management by opening organizations up to a larger and more diverse talent pool, by age, location, skilled professionals, physical abilities and cultural diversity. It can also help improve volunteer engagement and retention through more precise volunteer role allocation thanks to software features that can easily filter and match based on skills and interests. Not only that, technology can improve the speed and responsiveness of a nonprofit organization, thus reducing the overall administrative burden of volunteer management. 


4 simple ways web based volunteer management software can help you 

A Nonprofit Trends Report from Salesforce found that 85% of nonprofits believe technology is the key to their success, but only 23% have a long term vision of how to use technology within their organization. This represents a big gap between idea and implementation. Let’s start with four simple ways web based volunteer management software such as Rosterfy can help improve your organization’s volunteering program.


How do you keep track of volunteers?

With Rosterfy's in-built check in and out options, you can automate volunteer tracking. Choose from your preferred device including mobile, tablet and desktop and make check in simple with key features including geo fencing and QR codes.

Track the status of your check across multiple events, venues and/or locations, both onsite or remotely, and react accordingly with the ability to reassign volunteers and staff based on attendance rates. 


How do I create a volunteer database?

Forget those outdated Excel spreadsheets (or even worse, paper forms stashed in a drawer) and manage your team with a digital volunteer database.  

Rosterfy’s volunteer database allows you to recruit potential new volunteers easily using customized forms that can be added to your website or social media pages.

Once someone applies, only those who have completed all the relevant training and are compliant are eligible to see and apply for opportunities within your organization. Need a volunteer who holds a valid working with children's check? Or need staff to undergo an induction before they progress? Rosterfy allows administrators to ensure compliance when it comes to their volunteers and staff through one centralized system. 


How do I manage a volunteer roster?

Finding the right volunteer staff is simple with Rosterfy’s advanced scheduling tool. This tool allows you to screen and schedule your workforce by skill set, location and availability, Rosterfy enables users to manage large numbers of volunteers and staff with ease. 

You can also get real time oversight into the status of your roster, including the number of volunteers that have applied, through to shifts fulfilled and accepted. 


How do I reward and recognize volunteers?

Volunteers should be recognized for their hard work, but it’s often a job that falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Make it simple by automating the entire process with Rosterfy. Rosterfy allows you to incentivize volunteering through the use of rewards, which can be redeemed in exchange for volunteer hours or shifts volunteered. Create your own custom rewards and milestones so volunteers are automatically notified when they are eligible for rewards, and let them redeem prizes they really want!  

From merchandise and apparel, through to event tickets and once in a lifetime opportunities, gamifying your volunteer program and the volunteer experience is a great way to engage and retain your volunteers and show them just how much you value them!  



Organizations already embracing technology are reaping the benefits. 

“Rosterfy frees us up to not be focused on the grind of the roster. With that process automated, we can now focus on the experience of the volunteer, and we know there’s a direct correlation between volunteer experience and fundraising effectiveness. If our volunteers feel engaged and well-supported then they’ll come back and they’ll help us raise more funds,” says national campaigns manager Jacinta Webster at Cancer Council Victoria.

At the same time, those organizations that don’t embrace technology risk disappearing. As digital technology touches everything in our lives, organizations without technology won’t be able to compete with innovative organizations to recruit and attract volunteers - especially younger generations.

It’s imperative to start looking at introducing a volunteer management software that can manage the whole volunteer program effectively. 

To learn more about how Rosterfy can help you recruit and manage volunteers with ease, why not book a demo of our product today? 


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