We need your help to make OurVolts the easiest to use volunteer time tracking tool for nonprofit organizations. Please help us by filling out a short, 5-question survey about your experience with OurVolts and where you would like it to go in the future!
Go to the survey.
As fellow community organizers, we know how busy you are, so as our way of saying thank you, one lucky person who fills out the survey will be randomly selected to receive a free Dedicated Deadheader tshirt, donated by the first OurVolts project site, Friends of the Morcom Rose Garden in Oakland, CA.
Thank you so much!
James and Anca
Grassroot organization coordinators and OurVolts Founders
We are excited about getting mobile enabled for existing users of our volunteer time tracking system, and we are making improvements every week. If you have an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone, check out the mobile version of our site, ourvolts.com - it should automatically detect that you are accessing the site from your phone and adjust accordingly. We hope that having a mobile way to track your volunteer hours will be useful to those of you who are always on the go!
For all of you out there with smart phones, we have some good news -
OurVolts can now be used for logging volunteer hours on your mobile phone! We just developed a mobile version of our website that allows volunteers and volunteer managers to log and track their volunteer hours from the comfort of their personal phone. To check it out, go to our website ourvolts.com on your smart phone, and the website should automatically detect that you are accessing it from your smart phone. It will load as the mobile site on your phone, and you can start logging your volunteer hours!
Also, our volunteer tracking system website now has a few updates for volunteers and volunteer managers. On the volunteer manager dashboard, there is easier access to managing site volunteers and editing profile information, as well as a better user interface on the project site page.
Would you like to see a mobile application for logging volunteer hours? Is mobile technology (for smart phones and tablets like the iPad and HP touchpad) the wave of the future? Would having a mobile option for tracking volunteer hours encourage and promote volunteerism? Would mobile time tracking make the lives of those coordinating volunteer projects easier?
Paper time-sheets are a thing of the past. There’s no nicer way to put it - the use of paper time-sheets is costing your organization time. This time could be better spent recruiting volunteers, or finalizing details on projects, or giving volunteers some valuable one-on-one feedback.
All data from paper time tracking must eventually be entered into spreadsheets or a database if you want to use the information in reports for funders. These steps are unnecessary when using online time tracking tools like OurVolts.
Here are some good reasons for using mobile technology to logging volunteer hours:
- All ages (especially youth) are increasingly making use of smartphones and tablets, rather than logging into laptop or desktop computers.
- One of the few advantages of paper is that it’s portable and can be carried around with you - the same is true for mobile.
- Hours logged in real time are more accurate.
- Mobile apps have an appealing “cool factor” that could provide incentive to your volunteers.
- The use of QR codes could be incorporated into mobile time tracking, making the entire process easier.
- Empowers volunteers to log hours on their own.
Examples of mobile time tracking (not for volunteers):
Examples of mobile time tracking (for volunteers):
Do you have a need for mobile volunteer time tracking? Write to us and tell us about it! Do you have a mobile technology for logging volunteer hours and want be listed here? Contact us!
OurVolts has just added over 50,000 new national, regional, state and municipal parks!
No matter where you are in the country, our new map feature can help you locate the best possible use of your volunteer time.
It’s super easy. Simply go to “Find a Site” on the top menu. Next to the site map, enter the site name or your zip code and the distance. Choose from the list at the bottom of the map and get started.
Say you begin volunteering and fall in love with a park that does not have an administrator. Would you like to be in charge of caring for it or coordinating the volunteer efforts there? Click the “Claim a Site” button to become the administrator.
We here at OurVolts want to help you build a better world. Now get out there and start volunteering!
OurVolts is Adding New Features Today!
You have a burning desire to be of service, don’t you? How will you find a place to volunteer? If you’re looking online, it may be a time consuming process to search through Google for sites in your neighborhood. Even when you’ve found a place to put your efforts, you may not be sure if anyone else is managing, coordinating or contributing.
OurVolts has added new features to the “Find a Site” page!
We made finding a volunteer site in your neighborhood a cinch by adding a Google map. Volunteer locations in your area are now searchable by zip code and distance. If you have a specific place in mind, you can search for it by entering the “Volunteer Site Name” to see if it is already in the OurVolts database. Which sites have current volunteers and which sites need some love? Could your local park use a coordinator or administrator? OurVolts can now provide those easy answers for you. Connect with your community, and together you can contribute improvements to your neighborhood.
What is an online time tracking system?
As the internet becomes more useful and available to people across the world, volunteer-based organizations with modest resources have the opportunity to use cutting edge technologies for growth and management.
A management tool that can be particularly helpful is an online time tracking system. Online time tracking systems allow agencies, municipalities and groups to easily share data. This data can be accessed remotely and the program does not need to be installed.
If You Are A Volunteer Coordinator:
Most online volunteer time tracking systems will allow you to manage multiple projects. Giving volunteers the opportunity to enter their hours themselves could save you valuable time. Reports can be generated from the data and presented to staff, community members and funders. Encouraging friendly competition and creating a space for volunteers to be instantly recognized could motivate volunteers to see a project to completion.
In addition to time reporting, the tracking tool may allow:
• online applications for volunteers
• database of contact information
• data to be embedded on your own website
• automatic schedule reminders
• tagging volunteers with specific criteria
• impact tracking
• reviews of volunteers
If You Are A Volunteer:
Entering your own volunteer hours into an online time tracking system is an empowered way to increase your own social currency. You may have the option to share this information with prospective employers and college admissions offices. This tool may allow you to self-schedule and invite other volunteers.
If you’re interested in knowing more about online time tracking, take a look at examples of how other organizations make use of them.
What is social media?
It’s the new hot topic. Marketing experts blog about it, journalists grapple with it and the consumers get addicted to it. But what exactly is it? Social Media is a relatively new form of communication that is characterized by interactive, collaborative content. It differs from traditional media in that it allows for more feedback and consumer participation. Examples of popular sites are: Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Google+, Ning, Tumblr, Orkut, Meetup, Bebo and Friendster. Social Media can also be seen as a disruption of old hierarchical models; consumers can interface with each other and with the site itself.
Why should volunteer organizations use social media?
Social networking sites like Twitter and Google+ are the new word-of-mouth. Facebook has more than 750 million active users. In fact, if Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated in the world, right behind China and India. These websites can quickly increase your numbers.
In addition, photo and video sharing sites like Flickr and Youtube can be an excellent way for organizations to provide volunteer recognition.
How can we best utilize social media?
Each service has its own personality. It’s best to start with one or two at a time; be sure to update regularly. Neglected accounts won’t do much for you; an ancient status or post might give the impression that your organization is no longer open or active.
Facebook is infinitely useful, for many reasons: volunteer recognition, call for volunteers, spreading the word about events, community building and establishing relationships with other organizations.
Creating photo albums of volunteers is a way to recognize their hard work. Tagging them in the photos (with permission, of course) is a way to spread the word about your program and perk the interest of potential volunteers. The Friends of San Jose Rose Garden definitely know how to engage their volunteers with good photos. Calls for volunteers on work days can be put out by using the “events” function of Facebook. Creating an event can also be used to invite volunteers to parties or meetings. Build community by asking questions in your status updates and initiating discussions - it will allow volunteers to get to know one another. Your program can build relationships with other like-minded organizations by sharing their content and using @mentions to promote them.
Flickr is another way to recognize your volunteers by posting photos of them. These photos can be easily shared on other sites as well.
Tumblr, a blogging platform, can help establish your organization as an expert voice in your field. Your blogs should be unique. Try not to closely mimic other articles on the web. Allow volunteers with a gift for storytelling to blog about their experience and the impact that your organization makes. These volunteers wanted to share their in-depth thoughts about why they volunteer. Youtube can also be used to establish expertise, through the use of instructional videos. Our friends at Planting Justice made video lectures on Sustainable Self Governance.
Twitter is a superb place to gather content. Following knowledgeable people and relevant publications allows you to scan through your Twitter home feed and keep abreast of breaking news and current trends in your field. Your content from Flickr and Tumblr can be shared on Twitter with bit.ly links. Red Cross of the National Capital Region maintains a very active Twitter, where they share their events and utilize hashtags to reach a broader audience.
No matter how you decide to approach your social media strategy, you can’t lose. Any effort you make will increase in your organization’s online visibility.
Efficiently managing volunteers involves a bit of psychology and a bit of empathy. Why would someone help you for free? What kind of experience is a volunteer seeking when they show up at your door? This kind of key information should be assessed at initial intake.
Understanding what drives a volunteer will help you understand how to retain them. If the situation is mutually beneficial, the participant will be more inclined to stay.
Although no one is a carbon cutout, the following personality sketches may help you decipher the needs of the individual:
The activist wants to volunteer with you because they want to make a difference. They see social change as necessary and urgent. Assignment: Put the activist on a project that makes an impact on the big picture. Let them know that what they do is essential to the survival of the cause.
The loner is either looking for ways to connect or just needs to get out of the house. It’s an important distinction. Assignment: If the loner wants more company, match them with other volunteers, preferably those with nurturing tendencies; if the loner would prefer to work independently, be sure that they stay busy. Idle time will make the loner feel more awkward than they already do. Be mindful of embarrassing this personality type with loud critique or praise.
The social butterfly likes to flutter around and network with just about everyone. Building community is like breathing for this extrovert. Assignment: Fundraising, increasing public awareness about your organization or recruiting other volunteers is a great way to use the social butterfly’s particular skill set.
The leader wants to be in charge, all of the time. This tenacious character will probably assume authority, even if you haven’t bestowed any. Assignment: Put the leader in charge of something, anything. This person may be suited to assist the volunteer coordinator. But be sure that the leader is using power responsibly and respectfully. Kindness should be a prerequisite. Invite the leader to meetings. When planning relevant projects, ask them for input. Warning - the leader can make or break your volunteer operation. Be hyper vigilant about tuning in to how they affect other volunteers. An unmonitored tyrant can kill a good vibe in an instant.
The achiever is donating time in exchange for new skills. Open up staff training sessions to your volunteers. Inform them of job openings in your organization. Assignment: Find out what the achiever is interested in and what their long term goals are. Give them a task that expands expertise or builds their resume.
The big heart is full of love for the planet. The big heart seeks ways to make others happier. Assignment: Give the big heart a task that will allow them to provide emotional comfort or physical assistance to someone that really needs it.
The brainiac takes pride in intellectual prowess or technical know-how. Assignment: Give the brainiac a task which requires problem-solving skills.
The doer would rather be in a hands-on setting than sitting in a chair all day. Assignment: Put the doer on any outdoor endeavor. If that’s not an option, regularly send them on errands to give them a chance to be out of the office.
Once you’ve delegated wisely, appreciate everyone for the very unique and specific contribution that they make!
Managing volunteers can be a real pain. Are you sure that it's worth it? If you decide that you'd like to ditch the volunteers that you already have, here are some ways to drive them away forever.
1. Treat volunteers like grunt workers. They're not even paid, right? Give them menial tasks that no one else wants to do.
2. Don't consult with regular staff. When assigning volunteer duties, don't let your paid employees in on the planning. This way, staff is likely to resent your generous helpers and make them feel truly unwelcome.
3. Be disorganized. Invite volunteers over before you've determined what needs to be accomplished. Wasting a volunteer's time is a sure way to get rid of them.
4. Make volunteers hold the weight of the world in their hands. Give them so much responsibility that they'll crack from the pressure. Ask them to perform impossible miracles.
5. Berate a volunteer's every move. Don't let them breathe without giving "constructive criticism." Make sure that your tone of voice is especially condescending.
6. Isolate volunteers. Stick them in a corner somewhere without any human connection or interaction.
7. Promote futility. Let volunteers know that their "drop in the bucket" dried up. To really kill the mood, inform them that their previous efforts made no impact whatsoever. Go into great detail about how the project failed. Better yet, invite them to work on a project that is likely to fail due to inadequate funding.
8. Ignore volunteers. Don't say a word about what they accomplished for your organization. Save your “thank you” for the annual volunteer banquet.
9. Shower volunteers with smother-love. Call your volunteer at home, several times a week, to tell them what a great job they did. Every day, tag their Facebook page with praise.
10. Make false promises. Tempt them with an incentive and then retract the offer.