Attendance MattersAny volunteer organization that understands the value of attendance data would be wise to invest in a software package that provides the tools necessary to mine that data. Attendance data can be used as a basis for promotional programs to increase the organization’s membership. But there are other reasons as well, and we should take just a minute and rank them. It’s not always about what the data can do for you, but also what it can do for members. If members are happy, the organization will certainly flourish.
When volunteers are aware that their attendance is noted, they will know their attendance matters to you. Attendance data enables the organization to reach out to those volunteers who haven’t visited for a time and let them know that you miss them and look forward to seeing them soon. You can inquire about what may have caused them to miss scheduled events and determine if it’s an organization problem or just that life has gotten in the way.
Typically, volunteer organizations have specific goals, and it can be great to let volunteers know how their hours and efforts make a difference to these goals. Often goals are communicated broadly in annual materials or on websites, but direct communications via emails can be more targeted to specific volunteer interests. Providing specific thank-yous to volunteers that share details of organizational success in their own areas of volunteerism is a powerful way to allow volunteers to feel that their time has led to good in the world.
Volunteers who spend hours calling for donations of time and treasure might value knowing how the organization fares in meeting fundraising goals. Volunteers who prepare or share meals might most value knowing how many of the hungry were fed.
Tracking attendance activity is a useful way to know which volunteer has actually committed to a particular effort. Most people love being reminded that they are part of a larger effort. Volunteers might feel inspired to give more time or renew a former commitment if they see that your organization is aware of the value of their commitment.
Attendance tracking reports mean that an organization can spot trends that will trigger ripe opportunities to deepen a volunteer’s engagement. The reports will help the organization spot challenges also. If a particular time of day reflects lower attendance than other times of the day, the organization can consider if volunteer sessions need to be modified or if staff members’ schedules need to be modified. And if certain time slots during the day appear overbooked, the organization may want to examine finding ways to use more volunteers during that time. For example, if you’re at capacity for a food shelf, you may want to use some overflow volunteers on inventory or office work—or even calling for donations.
How do you start to better track your engagement? Registering, scheduling, and allowing check-ins and communications in one single volunteer management system can be a great way to ease the burdens of comparing spreadsheets and other tools. Check out a leader in volunteer management scheduling, like Cogran Systems. Volunteer management systems can create astonishing results by assisting the organization in collecting the data, allowing targeted reporting, and—best of all—making it easy to communicate to your volunteers to thank them for their time.