What will they think of next?
It's been a long time coming, but I suspect the next transformational shift in our field will be a widely expanded use of cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tools in nonprofit volunteer programs. The tools themselves aren't necessarily new, but the use of them in an average volunteer program certainly is. Few organizations invest the dollars needed to properly manage the overwhelming number of stakeholder relationships formed with the volunteer manager, and this oversight can be costly. According to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America 2013 report produced by the Corporation for National and Community Service, today's volunteers are almost twice as likely to donate to charity as non-volunteers. Great news, right?
Not so fast. According to The New Volunteer Workforce, more than 1/3 of those who volunteer one year do not donate their time the next year - at any nonprofit. Poor management is cited as a top cause for this attrition, a loss that affects not only the organization immediately losing the volunteer but also those who might have benefitted from the volunteer's assistance in the future. Add to that the potential loss of future financial contributions, and suddenly effective volunteer engagement becomes a much more critical task within an organization. (This isn't news to us, but we now have the statistics to support our personal suspicions.)
With the help of a great CRM, organizations can more easily manage volunteer schedules and share information. Apps allowing for mass messaging of volunteers are invaluable as well. Increasingly, volunteer engagement CRM's are becoming more compatible with heavily favored fundraising software platforms. This is a much welcome change from the days of using a poorly designed add-on to these same programs.
Is your organization utilizing a CRM to track volunteer engagement? Which features do you favor? What more could a good CRM do for your organization?