5 Things Your Volunteer Database Should Track (Besides Volunteer Hours!)
As a leader of volunteers, your ability to cultivate relationships with your volunteers relies on knowing them well! And when you have many volunteers to keep track of, you likely rely on a volunteer database to store all this valuable, relationship-building information.
If you’re setting up a volunteer database for the first time, or if you’re researching the transition to a new database, there are a lot of factors to consider. One of the biggest factors you’ll likely think about (after pricing!) is whether this database will help you track the information you need to support the success of your volunteer program.
There are some obvious items: personal contact information, emergency contacts, and a record of the number of hours volunteers, to name a few. But what additional information is helpful to have on hand?
The specific information needed will always depend on the context you’re working in. But here are 5 items that almost any volunteer program will benefit from tracking:
1. Milestones and checkpoints
One basic item your database should help you track is any milestone or checkpoint dates for your volunteers. This could be related to their volunteer position – like anniversaries of volunteering, due dates for evaluations, and term limits for committees – or personal, like birthdays or other significant dates. You can use this information to pull reports monthly or weekly to see upcoming significant dates. Some databases may even have the capacity to send you notifications of upcoming milestones.
2. Availability or preferred shifts
Creating a volunteer schedule can feel like an insurmountable task! Your volunteer database can also support you in in this. You can use it to note volunteers’ availability and preferred shifts, or, depending on the database’s capabilities, even to have volunteers sign up for available time slots.
Especially when dealing with a larger volunteer program, it can be a challenge to track the web of volunteer connections. A database which allows you to input relationships can help you track which staff supervise which volunteers, which volunteers have been on teams or committees together, which volunteers are part of corporate volunteer groups or work together, or even which volunteers have friends or family members who are beneficiaries of your organization – helpful information for getting feedback on a volunteer’s performance, or knowing who works well together.
Volunteers are often placed in a particular position when they enter the organization, but they may have additional skills outside of that position. In case a special project or new need arises within the organization, it’s a good idea to keep a database of volunteer skill sets. That way, when it turns out you’re looking for a graphic design volunteer or volunteer with facilitation skills, you can tap into your current volunteers’ expertise to see if there’s already a fit.
5. Training and certifications
Training or certifications like First Aid, food safety, or swimming instruction may be required for volunteers at your organization. You can use your database to input volunteers’ training, including an end date for any certifications that expire, allowing you to track who’s accredited and when renewals are due. (The same goes for police records checks!)
If some of these features aren’t available to you out of the box with your volunteer database, consider contacting your software support team to see if there are any workarounds or customizations available. Some databases may allow you to add custom fields to a volunteer profile, allowing you to track much more than you currently are!
If you’re shopping around for a volunteer database, check out our supplier listings.
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