Volunteer Management Software

Written by Linda Alexander
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There are lots of choices for specialized volunteer management software. Most nonprofits do not have large budgets to buy elaborate packages and they simply do not have a need for them. In fact, many database programs can double as volunteer-tracking software. When your organization grows to the point that you truly need a software solution, planning is essential.

In order for volunteer management software to really help your organization, you must already be gathering information from volunteers to put into it. Otherwise, you are investing a large sum of money in something that has capabilities far beyond those you will use.

If you are short on money, as many nonprofits are, evaluate the software you already have. Project management programs like File Maker Pro are often enough to track contact information and volunteer hours. A relational database like Microsoft Access or Lotus Approach would also hold plenty of information.

Selecting Customized Volunteer Management Software

If you lack the knowledge to customize these programs, or if it would take more time than you have, your nonprofit probably needs a customized package. Nonprofit software can be very expensive to develop and maintain. But today there are affordable, web-based volunteer management software solutions that are within easy reach of most organizations. Whether you have 40 members or 40,000, online solutions can accommodate you.

Before you shop for volunteer management software, there are a few things to consider. Your organization's knowledge is crucial to your operation. Consider what information you want to track, who needs access to it, and how they will use it. How easy will it be to update information, and record maintenance requirements. Think about the number of users you will need and how much each license will cost. Users should be able to create labels and mailings easily. Also, consider the difficulty level of learning the software, how you will handle training, and how much technical support is included with the purchase.

You might also want features such as secure login, and allowing organization members to update their contact information. Therefore, you should set permissions so that each member can only update his or her own information, while staff or committee members may update the whole database.

Other Considerations When Purchasing Volunteer Management Software

You will most likely want to run reports, so make sure your volunteer management software can handle very customized reports. Most software packages do not integrate with accounting software. Will this be a problem for you? Find out if there are ways to integrate that function with your main database.

Finally, most organizations need a way to plan and manage events and register participants. How well will your event management software work with your volunteer management software? Consider whether the software allows you to import and export information quickly and easily.

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