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How you can best use digital transformation to manage your volunteers
Better understand how a digital transformation strategy can help you better manage and engage with your volunteers.
Digital transformation is the latest buzzword that is dominating business news, management agendas and workforce trends.
But what is it exactly?
Gartner defines digital transformation as “anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models. The term is used in the public-sector to refer to modest initiatives such as putting services online or legacy modernization.”
While many organizations were already looking at adopting digital tools to help them advance and modernize, the pandemic forced the pace of change to accelerate. In fact, according to research company McKinsey & Co, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation globally by seven years.
Unfortunately, limited resources mean that these changes are a lot slower to reach the non profit sector. “The traditional social sector is a decade behind the business sector in terms of digital transformation,” said Shannon Farley, Executive Director of Fast Forward, an accelerator for tech nonprofits. To ensure volunteer-involving organizations can maximize their impact and future-proof their organizations, embracing technology is key.
So, as a volunteer manager, how can digital transformation help you manage your volunteers?
In this article, we’ll cover the ways digital tools are changing the way volunteer-involving organizations facilitate micro-volunteering, upskilling, virtual volunteering, data safety, fundraising and technology.
One of the most common roadblocks for potential volunteers is lack of time. With busy lives, careers and families, many people have the desire to volunteer, but simply lack the time. Micro volunteering is a new trend that aims to overcome this challenge. Micro volunteering initiatives invite volunteers to engage spontaneously to complete small tasks, at a time that suits them, without needing to be formally engaged with an organization. While regular volunteering dropped in the UK in 2021, micro-volunteering platforms actually reported a surge in the number of people signing up, reported ThirdSector.
Technology has enabled this new sector to emerge, as the majority of the micro-volunteering tasks people do are performed on the internet or a dedicated app. But it also allows volunteers from anywhere around the world to get involved.
For instance, the world’s largest museum the Smithsonian is headquartered in Washington, but it welcomes digital volunteers from around the world to help transcribe, edit, and review a range of historical documents online. Volunteers can also get involved with unique Citizen Science opportunities such as eMammal camera traps, Fossil atmospheres and LeafSnap.
Successful micro-volunteering programs such as these depend on:
- Create engaging and simplified onboarding experiences - create one profile once without having to apply multiple times.
- Keeping the tasks short and interesting, to encourage people to return again.
- Measuring impact so volunteers can understand their value and stay involved.
- Creating a micro volunteers social community, newsletter or meetup to enable volunteers to interact with each other
One issue we often hear from volunteer managers is that many of their senior volunteers aren’t tech-savvy, thus they are reluctant to embrace digital tools for fear of alienating anyone.
But one thing that the pandemic taught us was just how far-reaching digital tools can be. As everyone from grandparents to young children adapted to communicating with loved ones, learning, shopping and seeing a doctor online, we’ve created a whole new generation of tech-savvy citizens.
This should give volunteer managers the confidence to embrace the digital transformation to help recruit, train, onboard and communicate with volunteers. Encourage volunteers to upskill, give them the right tools, and instead of holding your organization back, it will only help you grow and reach more people.
In Australia, In 2019, 17% of volunteering was conducted online, while in 2020, that jumped to 44%, according to the State of Volunteering in Victoria 2020 report.
While the pandemic forced many organizations to go virtual, technology enabled it to happen. And now as we emerge from the pandemic and adapt to the new normal, virtual volunteering is a great way to encourage more volunteering. Many potential volunteers may not be able to attend in-person volunteer jobs. Perhaps they don’t have access to a car, live in a rural location, care for someone at home, or simply can’t commit to a regular time slot. Virtual volunteering enables them to contribute meaningfully, from the comfort of home.
When you’re not working with volunteers in a physical capacity, a volunteer management program will ensure that your volunteers are engaged, properly trained and retained.
Check out the types of virtual volunteering roles that you could introduce in your organization.
The digital transformation has changed the way we organizations and volunteers are compliant when it comes to waivers, training and accreditation.
With the range of different certifications, safety checks, workplace OHS training, licenses and reference checks that are needed for different roles, this is one job that makes sense to be digitized.
A digital onboarding process enables you to collect and store digital copies of any certifications that are needed. Not only does it mean that you can have everything ticked off ahead of time, it also eliminates the need for anyone to be bringing certificates with them on-site, and then risk forgetting them along the way!
Similarly, when you need an extra set of hands, instead of individually asking staff who have their WWCC or forklift license, simply filter the database and easily vet relevant candidates.
With ever-changing data laws, security concerns and personal information shared online, it should come as no surprise that compliance is one of the major challenges surrounding digital transformation. So when implementing a new piece of technology, it’s important to understand just how your data is collected, stored and used. If handled correctly, it’s the best way to ensure your company is compliant.
Rosterfy prioritizes keeping our customers' data, and that of their users protected at all times. To view more about how this is achieved, read the information here.
Many organizations are realizing that virtual charity events often have a high ROI, fewer overheads, and are less labor-intensive than in-person events. And with platforms such as GivenGain, GoFundMe and Paypal allowing you to collect donations easily, at any time, without needing to send out volunteers as tin-rattlers, fundraising has been completely transformed.
Rosterfy’s partnership with GivenGain allows volunteers to start a fundraising campaign at the same time as they set up a volunteer profile. We know the volunteers are also often big donors, so the extra income that fundraising brings is a huge benefit for charities. Using technology to measure, automate and streamline the administrative side of your operations allows more time dedicated to service delivery, outreach and fundraising.
Social media is a powerful tool for organizations to teach their audiences. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have increased our capacity to spread awareness, reach donors and raise funds, and promote volunteering. Facebook’s birthday fundraisers enable charity supporters to ask their friends and family to make online donations to their favorite charity in lieu of birthday gifts.
If you’re considering fundraising online, we’ve compiled the top 25 easy virtual fundraising ideas.
When it comes to volunteer and workforce management, technology is extremely valuable. Volunteer management software allows you to:
- Automate the onboarding process
- Conduct background checks easily
- Enable people to complete trainings online, in their own time
- Handle check-in and check-out at events
- Meet the demands of data security protocols
- Automate rostering, scheduling and re-rostering
- Check certifications
- Report with accuracy - transfer of information amongst colleagues and managers with ease
Technology can help relieve the stress and burden that overworked managers feel, while ensuring volunteers are kept engaged and informed. But perhaps one of the most underrated benefits of embracing workforce technology is the sheer amount of insights it can provide.
“Until you understand the data, who they are, where they are, what their motivations are, you aren't treating volunteers as individuals, just a number needed to fill a requirement,” says Shannan Gove, Rosterfy’s co-founder. But by using digital tools to really find out who your volunteers are and what they are interested in, you can put them in roles that truly benefit them and keep them engaged for longer.
Gain more insights about digital transformation in our latest whitepaper: Digital Workforce Transformation.
Or learn more about how your website can help your volunteer program, with our 6 volunteer web design tips to boost engagement on your site.
Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they are passionate about through our volunteer and paid workforce engagement solution. We reduce the amount of time volunteer managers spend in spreadsheets and manual processes, as well as increasing the retention, engagement and attendance rates of our client’s volunteer database. Our scalable technology streamlines the previously manual process of volunteer and paid staff management for organizations of all shapes and sizes, from the Super Bowl & London Marathon to tin rattlers for local charity events.
Get in touch with us to book a demo to see why Rosterfy is the ultimate volunteer management platform that can help your digital transformation.