If you are not familiar with the terms ‘volunteer management’ or ‘volunteer management systems’ (VMS), a VMS is a system or tool for managing the planning, recruitment, training, scheduling, engagement, tracking, and communication of volunteers. Ideally, your university VMS software will be an all-in-one tool that manages student volunteers and the work they do for non-profit organizations.
A successful volunteer management system helps student volunteers stay informed, engaged, and motivated when they commit to making impact with a nonprofit organization. This results in increasing long-term volunteer retention, which in turn will also increase university retention.
There are many different types of service opportunities for your students to get involved with. University students can benefit from volunteering opportunities related to career development, skills-based volunteering, mentoring, and sports. By encouraging students to consider volunteering, students create value for nonprofits, while also enhancing their own experiences and résumés.
Here are 7 reasons why your university needs a Volunteer Management System (VMS).
7 reasons for your university to have a Volunteer Management System
We have already shared which VMS features universities might be interested in, including data reporting, communication tools, scheduling tools, and software integration. To share the benefits for universities more directly, here are seven (7) reasons why we think universities need a volunteer management system.
1. Easy to Access
Utilizing online volunteer management systems will help universities access data instantly, recruit volunteers, promote opportunities, and perform tasks from anywhere with just a simple network connection.
This ease of access also grants universities the ability to analyze traffic by utilizing data and analytics. Analyzing the traffic and redirections to your website can help you understand the particular interest of your student volunteers, which can also help with predictive analytics.
[Click to listen to The Student Loan Podcast’s episode about Predictive Analytics with New America, a think and action tank.]
2. Saving Time
In 2013, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported that 85% of all charities had no employees. If the vast majority of nonprofits operate without employees, it is understandable why volunteers and service opportunities are foundational to nonprofit success. Universities can play a crucial role in bridging the volunteering gap for nonprofits, while also narrowing the skills gap for students. The average undergraduate headcount in the Fall of 2019 was 6,445 students. Instead of adding managing over 6,000 student volunteers to a university’s list of responsibilities, save time and outsource the efficient management of volunteers with a VMS to ensure both nonprofits and students get the support they need. Without structure, or a process, it is easy to inefficiently manage student volunteers, thus impacting the efficiency of your university. Save your university administrator’s time by allowing for them to focus on their area of expertise, serving students as students, and outsourcing to an online VMS who can serve students as student volunteers.
3. Better Communication
Imagine being able to send a note out to your volunteers at the click of a button. In additional to the ease of communication VMS offers universities, communication is also enhanced by tailoring messages to the right audience. Depending on which volunteer management system a university selects, communications can be categorized based on student volunteer interests, and much more.
Some VMS platforms offer the opportunity for student volunteers to chat online amongst themselves. This feature can be advantageous, especially for university freshman or other student volunteers who are volunteering for the first time.
Automatically welcoming new student volunteers, sending appreciation emails, and any relevant reminders, ensures everyone is on the same page.
4. Increasing Student Involvement
Studies have shown that where volunteering opportunities are easily-accessible to students, engagement with volunteering increased. One of the most easily-accessible channels for people with internet access and devices is the virtual experience. By migrating service opportunities online, a university can increase engagement with students on campus, while also providing a skill-development benefit to students.
Another benefit of increased student involvement, includes benefiting form online peer-to-peer sharing, which in turn spreads brand awareness for your university’s affiliation with a particular nonprofit. These examples of increased student engagement, in turn, can lead to more interest in your university and be incorporated into an enrollment marketing strategy.
5. Simplifying Data Collection
To elaborate on a point made in reason #1, analyzing data, traffic, and analytics, in one place provides additional data sources to perform more accurate data analytics. Reports generated through VMS can help your university collect data about student interests, reliability, and performance, to name a few. By collecting these data sources in one place, information about your student volunteers is much easier to manage.
6. Scheduling Features
The most popular use of online VMS platforms is undoubtedly for scheduling. The scheduling features that come with volunteer management systems make it easy for universities to organize group student volunteer events, automatically add scheduled events to existing calendar systems, create recurring service opportunities, and automatically match volunteers with opportunties based on field of study, experience, qualifications, and course schedule.
7. Tracking Student Volunteer Attendance
Tracking student volunteer check in and out of service opportunities is an excellent benefit of VMS platforms. Without need to perform meticulous and time-consuming manual data entry, university administrators can see attendance filtered by student, and assess attendance trends over time for student volutneering.
Tracking student volunteer attendance of your volunteer programs can help assess whether various opportunities are right for your student body, without having to do unnecessary work to get access to information. The student volunteer attendance information can also be leveraged to assess the reliability of student volunteers at your university.
Online volunteer management systems are fantastic engagement tools for universities. Prioritizing volunteer management systems can help student volunteers feel a sense of belonging, thus increasing retention. Because most student volunteers are unpaid through most VMS systems, it is important to choose a VMS platform that will keep student volunteers enthusiastic and incentivized.
Consider joining the StartNoo movement, and help your university increase enrollment and retention by engaging qualified, reliable skills-based student volunteers.
At StartNoo, student volunteers are incentivized to give their best work to non-profits, through direct payments to their student loans and tuition. Student volunteer can access training, webinars, and more, in order to ensure your university is represented properly. While student volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, what all volunteers have in common is a passion for service and making the world a better place.
Help your students make the world a better place by getting VMS for your university. Learn more here.