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A Consumers Guide to Software for Volunteer Management

An overview of popular tools for helping your nonprofit or library to manage volunteers

Consumers Guide to Software Volunteer Management 
Laura S. Quinn, Kyle Henri Andrei, Chris Bernard and Jay Leslie - May 20, 2011
Volunteer-based organizations have to keep track of a lot of data, and the right software can help, freeing time for managing volunteers. This report will help you understand what software is out there, what to expect, and how the different solutions compare.

Volunteer-based organizations have to keep track of a lot of data — for example, contact info, schedules, time sheets and job sites — and the right software can help, freeing time for managing volunteers. There are a number of products out there, but it's surprisingly hard to find information about them.

We hope this report remedies that. We designed it to serve as an introduction to volunteer management software: what's out there, what to expect and how the different solutions compare.

A Consumers Guide to Software Volunteer Management PDF image

We began our research by talking to different consul­tants, experts and volunteer managers about what they want from volunteer management software, and the systems with which they're familiar. Then, reinforced by Internet research and information from volunteer management email discussion lists, we defined a list of the three standalone volunteer management systems and the three consolidated constituent management systems most frequently mentioned. The vendors demonstrated the systems for us, and we spent some hands-on time exploring the software to better understand each system's strengths and weaknesses. In addition to these six systems, we've included 21 other systems to consider, located in the Also Consider sections at the bottom of each review.

This report sums up what we learned. It covers the basic features and functions that might be desirable in a volunteer management package, and then discusses the pros and cons of standalone volunteer management systems vs. systems that track volunteers alongside donors or other constituents. Finally, it compares the strengths and weaknesses of the leading software pack­ages. Whether you're upgrading your existing system or just starting out, use this report to guide you.

Editor's note: Read the downloadable comparison guide attached below to determine which volunteer management software may be best for your organization's needs. There are also a number of volunteer management programs or add-on modules available to nonprofits and libraries via the donation and discount programs through TechSoup. Some of these tools are mentioned in the guide while others are not.

Learn more about each program:

Image: Happy volunteers, Shutterstock