As an administrator or professor seeking to incorporate experiential learning, you may have already considered student volunteering. But whether you are recruiting and managing student volunteers or making sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs, you’re stretched thin. With the multitude of priorities you must manage in your role, it can be difficult to fit student service learning into your strategy. This article will show you how a university-focused, modern volunteer management system can lighten your workload and help improve outcomes for all stakeholders in your campus community, including students, administrators, nonprofits, and professors alike.
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.
Without further ado, here are 7 reasons why your university needs a volunteer management system (VMS).
Student Volunteer Organizers Have Limited Bandwidth
Is your university using students to coordinate your volunteer program?
Student volunteer organizers are busy. They’re balancing schoolwork and extracurricular activities, childcare responsibilities, and household tasks. In fact, some student volunteers are even working for pay in addition to handling full-time academic course loads! Remember, not all students can afford to solely focus on school without a job. Yet as an administrator, you know the benefits of experiential learning and service learning should be available to all students. The right volunteer management system (VMS) can help you streamline your university’s workflow so that your students focus on school and your administrative volunteer coordinator can focus on maximizing education and experiential learning opportunities for their students — not administrative tasks.
In addition to saving time, a volunteer management system allows student volunteers to spend more time actually volunteering. With an online platform that tracks hours and progress toward goals, they can work efficiently while still enjoying the college experience with their friends outside of family, class, or work commitments.
University Administrators Need One Seamless Place to Access the Student Service Learning
University administrators need one seamless place to access student service learning information campus-wide.
- You want a dashboard that shows you who is doing what, and how your students are engaged in service learning.
- You want to know if students are meeting their degree program requirements, and if not, why not?
- You’re looking for key performance indicators (KPIs) so that trends can be tracked over time and new strategies can be created based on what you learn from your data analysis.
Administrators also don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out how to use a volunteer management system that isn’t user-friendly or doesn’t have the features you need as a university administrator.
Instead, imagine a university-focused, seamless experience allowing for you as an administrator to pull information for donor pitches and board meetings. With a view of the entire student body’s qualitative and quantitative stats, you are better able to illustrate your great ideas.
Volunteer Coordinators are Overworked and Under Resourced
Volunteer coordinators are overworked and under-resourced. This is no secret. Volunteer management systems (VMS) help volunteers and the staff that support them by making organization, communication, tracking, and reporting easier than ever before. When you have a volunteer management system at your disposal, it will allow your program to function more efficiently—and ultimately save time for everyone involved in the process.
The best part about having a VMS is that you can access all of this information whenever you need it—no matter where you are in the world! You don’t have to worry about forgetting things or losing track of assignments because everything is stored digitally—making your life easier when managing volunteers from any distance whatsoever.
Universities Need an Easy Way to Connect Nonprofits to Students
Students, administrators, and professors at your university may have difficulty connecting with nonprofit community partners to find placements. For example, you might be a supervisor who wants to make sure that your students are matched with the right placements and projects. Or you might want to make sure the projects being offered by nonprofits are suitable for your students. In both cases, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit. That’s where a killer volunteer management systems come in!
A good VMS will allow both parties—students looking for projects and nonprofits looking for students—to easily search through available opportunities until they find one that works best for them both. The system should also let users search by location so that volunteer opportunities closer by can be found faster than those farther away from their homes or schools (which means less time spent driving). The best VMS has remote service opportunities as well – which is super helpful for students managing school, life, and service. If a student is matched with an opportunity but is unable to take part due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness or family commitments, there should be no penalty involved, so long as someone else is available to support the nonprofit. This way everyone wins and no one loses!
With Limited Work Study Options Available for Students, Universities Need to Fill in the Gap
Work study is a great way for students to earn money while working on projects that benefit their community. In addition, work study jobs often provide more meaningful and challenging work than other jobs. Work study programs can also help students build skills and gain experience, which is particularly valuable if the student wants to go into a related field after graduation.
In these cases, your university may want to consider incentivized service opportunities to support students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Some universities are already doing this. For example, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill provides students with a $4,000 grant for doing an “intensive service project” that lasts at least two weeks. This is not only a great way to help students earn money while working on projects that benefit their community, but it also helps instill the value of civic engagement in all members of the campus community.
Universities Need a University-Focused VMS
Universities are unlike other organizations. Universities are unique because they’re not only responsible for educating students, but also connecting them to meaningful service opportunities that will help them develop personal and professional skills. These two goals—education and service—are often at odds with one another due to their different timelines, but university-focused volunteer management software can help you achieve both objectives.
University-focused VMS should be flexible enough to meet the needs of any student who wants to get involved with volunteering on campus. This means that you need a system that allows for easy access from any device, including mobile devices; one that integrates with your organization’s existing systems (like Blackbaud Insite); and one that provides plenty of reporting options so you can keep track of all the data coming in from your volunteers’ activities online or offline!
University-focused VMS should also be secure. This means that it should have an SSL certificate and two-factor authentication for all users to ensure that no one can access your system without permission.
The system should also be easy to use. It should have an intuitive interface that allows volunteers and staff members alike to navigate their way through the platform without much difficulty. This will help you reduce your training costs and save time in the long run!
Finally, university-focused VMS should be affordable. Many organizations struggle with finding a solution that doesn’t break the bank but still provides all the features they need. This is especially important when it comes to volunteer management software because it can have a huge impact on your organization’s bottom line!
As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a volunteer management software solution. But don’t worry! With the right platform in place, your organization will be able to move forward with its mission while saving money and time!
Universities Need Clear Data to Measure the Effectiveness of Service Learning On Campus
One of the main reasons that a university needs a volunteer management system is to track and analyze outcomes. Tracking outcomes can be used to measure the success of your program, identify areas where you may need improvement and help plan for future programs.
[Click to listen to The Student Loan Podcast’s episode about Predictive Analytics with New America, a think and action tank.]
The most important data to track is whether your volunteers are engaging with their assigned projects as expected. You should also keep track of how many hours are being volunteered by each volunteer and whether or not this aligns with what was expected when they signed up for the program.
You should also track how many hours are being volunteered by each volunteer and whether or not this aligns with what was expected when they signed up for the program. This information can be used to measure the success of your program, identify areas where you may need improvement and help plan for future programs.
The next most important data to track is whether volunteers are engaging with their assigned projects as expected. You should also keep track of how many hours are being volunteered by each volunteer and whether or not this aligns with what was expected when they signed up for the program. This information can be used to measure the success of your program, identify areas where you may need improvement and help plan for future programs.
You should also keep track of how many hours are being volunteered by each volunteer and whether or not this aligns with what was expected when they signed up for the program. This information can be used to measure the success of your program, identify areas where you may need improvement and help plan for future programs.
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.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you’re looking for a university-focused volunteer management system, we can help! For years, StartNoo has connected students and alumni to nonprofits for engaging service-based scholarships. To see if StartNoo is a good fit for your campus, connect with us by setting up time here.