Reporting your nonprofit’s volunteer hours is essential for boosting your organization’s funding and attracting and retaining donors.
Ultimately, the only way for your nonprofit organization’s business model to remain sustainable is to show donors how their dollars are making a difference with your cause. When donors see that you have consistent volunteers who are invested in the everyday operations and long term mission of your organization, they will be more likely to support your nonprofit
Tracking volunteer hours will also help your organization remain eligible for certain match grants that will increase the nonprofit’s funding. In many cases, match grants allow nonprofits to receive money for every hour that a volunteer serves their organization.
With so much riding on documenting each and every volunteer hour, it can be frustrating when volunteers neglect to track those hours, leaving you to do tough guesswork from a hodgepodge of sources for inaccurate and spotty reporting.
While those who need hours to earn school credit or fulfill a legal obligation might be motivated to keep track of their hours, some volunteers may not view hour tracking as important or consequential, especially if they have volunteered for years or always come in at the same time every week. As such, you may find yourself struggling to report volunteer hours accurately, even when you have a system in place to track these hours.
Although it seems challenging to get each of your volunteers to track their volunteer hours, there are a few things you can do to successfully encourage them to track their time.
Here are 5 ways for you to get your volunteers to start tracking their hours:
1. Remind volunteers to track their hours
If no one in your organization consistently reminds volunteers about reporting their volunteer hours, it will be easy for what could be a habit forming behavior to be forgotten and slip through the cracks.
Have your director of volunteer services, volunteer coordinator, or volunteer management staff remind volunteers to track their hours to encourage routine behavior. This means including tracking reminders in the emails and messages that go out to volunteers leading up to a shift or event, in your weekly or monthly newsletters, on flyers at your volunteer site, and verbal reminders.
All too often volunteers get so engrossed in their service that they forget all about using your volunteer management software at the end of their volunteer shift.
Reminding them to track their hours at the conclusion of their shifts, or even providing a designated time for them to submit their hours when their shift is ending, will make it easy for them to track their hours.
2. Be transparent about why you track hours
Just having great volunteer hour tracking software will not always be enough to get more of your volunteers to report their hours. You also have to help them understand the full importance for tracking hours.
Sometimes volunteers think that when nonprofits ask them to track their hours, it’s just another bureaucratic hoop to jump through. Many don’t realize just how big of an impact each of their hours can have if they are tracked properly.
If you want your volunteers to submit their hours, you need to give them a reason to care about forming a tracking habit. The best way to do this is to be transparent about how reporting volunteer hours impacts your organization.
Talk to your volunteers about match grants and how more volunteer hours directly translates into more dollars from key funding sources.
According to Dollars for Doers, roughly 45% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs. Countless other companies have donation programs in place that offer nonprofits a financial incentive for every volunteer hour reported. With these programs, every hour counts! If your organization has the chance to receive a match grant, let your volunteers know so they will see the importance of tracking each of their volunteer hours.
You can also explain to them how sharing volunteer hours with current and prospective donors will help keep your nonprofit afloat. If donors see impressive numbers when it comes to volunteer hours, they will have a stronger interest in supporting your organization. Let volunteers know that their commitment to the organization enables you to secure the longevity of your nonprofit: recording their hours helps them further support you and helps them continue to volunteer.
Reminding your volunteers of this reality will encourage them to take their hour tracking more seriously.
3. Set clear expectations
Each of your volunteers needs to know your organization’s expectations regarding volunteer hour tracking from the very beginning of their onboarding process.
If they don’t hear about your hour tracking software or learn how to use it early on, it will be far more difficult for you to get them to use this software to track their hours in the future. If they think neglecting to track hours is only slightly frowned upon or non consequential, they won’t make it a priority.
Be clear with your volunteers from the outset about the importance of tracking hours so that you can ensure volunteers know what they are expected to do and clear up any questions about this process right away.
4. Offer incentives
There’s nothing like a little friendly competition with the potential to receive a prize to motivate volunteers.
Try having teams of volunteers compete against one another to see who can log the most hours by the end of a project.
Not only will this make the hour tracking more fun for your volunteers, but it will also encourage them to track their hours quickly and accurately so that they can help their team win. Create a leaderboard or some other way for each team or volunteer to see who is in the lead, create a set time frame, and let the fun commence!
Even the promise of a small incentive can spark competitive spirit and make a big difference toward improving your volunteer hour tracking rates.
5. Implement volunteer hour tracking software
If you are seeing that many of your volunteers are not tracking their volunteer hours, the first thing you need to do is evaluate your tracking system.
Is your current system for tracking hours intuitive? User-friendly? Mobile-friendly? Efficient?
If it is not, you will probably continue to see poor hour tracking habits or hear statements like “Entering my hours is too complicated!” or “By the time I get home to my desktop computer, I’ve already forgotten that I need to submit my hours.”
If you want to eliminate excuses and get results, you need effective volunteer management software that makes it quick and easy for volunteers to submit their hours as soon as they are done volunteering. Mobile friendly solutions are particularly helpful for automated hour tracking. Within Civic Champs’ app, if a volunteer forgets to check out on their mobile device when they leave the volunteer site, they will automatically be checked out and their hours will be recorded for you to reference in your database.
While we know we may sound biased, we believe that our volunteer management software is the best in ease of use for volunteer tracking! See how Civic Champs can help you get your volunteers track their volunteer hours when you visit our website or schedule a demo today!