Volunteers are valuable. According to Independent Sector, a national organization of charitable nonprofits, foundations, and corporations that publishes research important to the nonprofit sector, the estimated value of volunteer time for 2016 was $24.14 per hour. So recruiting and managing this resource is a vital activity for most successful arts organizations. Paid staff rely on their volunteer workforce and need to ensure the entire volunteer experience is as painless as possible in order to retain these crucial workers. However, finding an easy-to-use tool that will work within the meager budget constraints of many not-for profits can be a challenge. Applications like SignUpGenius and SignUp.com (formerly known as VolunteerSpot) offer a variety of services at differing prices but require precious time for familiarization. Many programs offer a free-trial, or even a ‘freemium’ level of service, but they can expose your volunteers to popup ads, spam, or monetized mailing lists to cover their service’s costs.
There is a better alternative.
VolunteerSignup.org is a completely free and simple-to-use application developed by the employees of TRAFx Research Ltd, a Canadian company that sells road-and-trail traffic counting systems. Originally designed in 2010 to help with a local non-profit event, the website is offered free “for non-commercial, volunteer-supported activities that provide social benefit.” TRAFx does not accept donations and absorbs the nominal costs involved as a public service.
The program is easy to use. To start, you create an account with your name, your organization’s name and your email contact, then you begin to build your signup sheet with jobs, times, number of helpers needed, etc. A link is generated giving your volunteers access to the signup sheet from their computers or mobile devices. Automatic reminders can be set, changes made, and hours can all be tracked easily, and there is no limit to how many sign-up sheets you can create.
Click on the website’s twitter icon and see recent posts from arts organizations as varied as the Mayor’s River o’ Green Fest in Tampa, to the East Moline Illinois’ Glenview Middle School Band’s Solo and Ensemble Festival. The VolunteerSignup program was effectively used during Hurricane Sandy’s clean-up, and can be applied to whatever-sized volunteer management needs your own organization may have.