One of the things I’ve done a bunch of all the way back to when I was a volunteer Tech Team Leader, is volunteer scheduling. I’ve done it many ways. I’ve used Word, Excel, and probably PowerPoint somewhere along the way to create and distribute the schedule for the weekend.
Regardless of how timely I was, how much e-mail communication I did, or how many lobby conversations I had, inevitably someone (sometimes more than 1!) would not show up. They would say a couple of things:
- I didn’t get the schedule
- I got the schedule but couldn’t serve on that Sunday
- Something came up and I couldn’t make it
- I forgot
Of course, they’re volunteers and stuff happens. I get that. But, if you break it down, there are a couple of fundamental “truths” when it comes to working with volunteers:
- Most people want to serve
- People are busy and need an easy way to know they’re supposed to serve
- A volunteer needs a reminder a few days in advance
- A volunteer needs a way to easily communicate the weekends they’re available or not available
- And, most importantly, there needs to be two-way communication between the scheduler and the volunteer … a “handshake” of sorts
Enter the method we are now using to schedule the more than 700 volunteers who faithfully serve at our church. I’ve written before on our successful transition to Church Community Builder (CCB), our church management software. Among other things, it’s “smoking hot” when it comes to working with volunteers!
- Volunteers use CCB to set up their “serving preferences.” They communicate when they can serve and when they can’t in their user profile.
- The scheduler has a great tool to use to create a schedule in just about any configuration, frequency, etc.
- Once the schedule is created, the scheduler sends everyone on the schedule a “serving request,” which hits the volunteer’s inbox.
- The volunteer receives the serving request and either “accepts” or “declines” the request (much like scheduling a meeting in Outlook).
- If the volunteer declines the request, the scheduler is notified, allowing them to communicate with the volunteer about alternative weekends, etc.
- If the volunteer accepts the request, they receive a “reminder to serve” e-mail automatically on Thursday or Friday before the weekend.
- The scheduler can review the schedule at any time to make sure everyone has either accepted or declined. There’s a green, yellow, or red light next to their name on the schedule. The yellow lights are those who haven’t responded one way or another. In this case, the scheduler re-sends the request or otherwise contacts the volunteer to make sure the loop is closed.
- Finally, the volunteer logs into the system and sees everything about their involvement with the church, including when they’ve agreed to serve.
Pretty awesome wouldn’t you say? Since implementing CCB and the capability they provide when it comes to scheduling volunteers, our “no-shows” are almost non-existent! Our staff and volunteers love it!