Get the Most Out of Your Volunteer Schedule: Tips & Tricks

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Volunteers are the backbone of many organizations. They give their time and energy to help make a difference in the world. However, scheduling volunteers can be a challenge.

By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you will learn to create schedules that meet both the needs of your organization and your volunteers.

What Is Volunteer Scheduling?

Volunteer scheduling is the process of assigning tasks or roles to each member of your volunteer team. This could include things like organizing shifts for a food drive, managing volunteers for an event, or assigning jobs to those working at an animal shelter.

The goal of volunteer scheduling is to create a schedule that meets the needs of the volunteer program and the volunteers themselves. This can be done manually or through the use of software, but it is always important to consider individual preferences and availability, as well as set clear expectations and ask volunteers to stick to them so that the planned work is completed in the best way possible.


🔺🔻 Volunteer Scheduling: Top-down vs. Bottom-up Approach

When it comes to volunteer scheduling, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But overall, it all can be boiled down to two distinct strategies: the top-down and the bottom-up methods.

The top-down approach is when an organization / manager assigns duties to volunteers with little input from the volunteers themselves. Conversely, the bottom-up approach allows volunteers to pick tasks and dates that fit their personal schedules and interests best.

An advantage of the top-down approach to volunteer scheduling is that it’s good at providing structure and organization to the overall work management process. Without it, volunteers may find themselves unsure of how to divide their time or what kind of tasks they must focus on.

The downside, however, is that the top-down approach provides somewhat limited flexibility and can reduce volunteers’ satisfaction with the process. On the other hand, as the freeform method of volunteer scheduling, the bottom-up approach copes with this problem well. Nevertheless, it often makes resource planning difficult for organizations due to the lack of structure or creating uneven workloads among volunteers.

Solution? Try to combine the best from the two volunteer scheduling methods to achieve optimal results and ensure a positive experience both for volunteers and yourself.

✅ Creating an Effective Volunteer Schedule: 5 Practical Tips

When creating an effective schedule for your volunteer team, there are a few key considerations you need to make:

1.    Take personal availability into account

When constructing a volunteer schedule, responsible managers should always keep in mind that their volunteers have other commitments outside of their volunteering duties and need some time off to restore and refresh themselves once in a while. It’s important to keep these in mind when creating a schedule so that no one feels overwhelmed or overworked.

Cooking up a roster can be tricky business, especially when you have lots of tasks and projects planned. However, if you want to ensure a pleasant experience for all involved, you must hold the utmost respect for the amount of time your volunteers are committing. By taking each one’s individual availability into consideration, you can establish an effective, successful volunteer schedule.

2.    Assign tasks based on skills

Great volunteer managers know that assigning tasks based on skills and competencies is a key recipe for success. After all, what’s the point of having an arsenal of talented people if you don’t equip them with the right tools to get the job done?

By matching volunteers to tasks that play to their existing talents or abilities, you can rest assured knowing that each job will be completed in as little time as possible, allowing your volunteer team to make the greatest impact they can!

3.    Give volunteers self-scheduling tools

As a manager trying to create an effective volunteer schedule, make sure you provide your volunteers with the right tools to make their job easier. Offer self-scheduling options that allow workers to select tasks they enjoy and set their own timelines. This way, they won’t have to fear their work will feel like a drag. Instead, they can look forward to what they signed up for – giving back!

Trusting employees with an understanding of the workload makes them feel cared for and inspired. Empowering your volunteer crew is a surefire way to keep them motivated, productive, and eager for the next project.

Need a good example of a self-scheduling tool for volunteers? Try actiPLANS!

It’s an excellent resource scheduling solution that lets you manage work in a few simple steps:

  • A manager creates custom work activities with unique color codes.
  • They invite volunteers to the system, enabling them to schedule the created work activities on a beautiful visual timeline.
  • Once a new work activity is added to the timeline (or edited there), actiPLANS sends an update notification to the supervisor via email, which helps to save some time on communication.
  • Then, if a manager needs to check how much time volunteers spent on different work activities, they may run an informative report.
Visual project activity planning, actiPLANS

In addition to that, actiPLANS offers functionality for effortless time off management, so you can keep track of volunteers’ days off with its help as well. And, of course, if you prefer the top-down approach to work scheduling (or refer to it once in a while), you can create schedules for volunteers yourself, and actiPLANS will let them know when you expect them to work.

Try actiPLANS today and forget about scheduling headaches! Sign up for a free online trial here.

4.    Track progress

If a well-run volunteer schedule is like a jigsaw puzzle, then tracking progress toward the goal is the essential glue that holds it all together.

Keeping an eye on your volunteers’ accomplishments allows you to adjust their assignments, ensuring no one gets bogged down and everyone stays in sync. If one job needs more assistance than originally anticipated, you can reschedule your volunteers’ shifts accordingly for optimal productivity.

Making sure you keep tabs not only on what has been accomplished but also on what still needs to be tackled will ensure that your volunteer schedule serves its purpose of keeping your team together and organized while they work towards a common goal.

5.    Analyze your results

When creating an effective volunteer schedule, one tip that many managers overlook is analyzing the results. Studying how you utilize resources and make decisions can help create a much more efficient system going forward.

Resource allocation, in particular, can be essential for success when it comes to ensuring tasks are completed on time and to the highest quality possible. So, instead of relying solely on intuition, you should take into account meaningful data collected from their scheduling outcomes and volunteer performance over a longer period of time. With this kind of analysis, you will be able to devise a strategy tailored specifically to your needs and team capabilities.

Monitor volunteer schedules and collect meaningful data with actiPLANS

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🏁 Conclusion

Volunteer work is the backbone of many non-profit organizations – but without a good volunteer scheduling system, it can be hard to keep track of who’s doing what and when. Luckily, there are plenty of great tools out there to help you get organized, and actiPLANS is one of the best of them.

It offers a user-friendly interface and features like automatic reminders that make sure your volunteers always know what and when they’re supposed to be doing. Thus, if you’re looking for a way to streamline your volunteer scheduling process, give actiPLANS a try – you won’t be disappointed!

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