If you run any kind of volunteer program, you know how easy it is to end up spending far too much time on administrative tasks like scheduling volunteers and tracking their volunteer hours!
Traditional methods for logging volunteer hours, scheduling, event management or volunteer check-in involve clunky spreadsheets or even old-school pen and paper sign-up sheets, wasting a lot of time for both staff and volunteers. There are a lot of drawbacks to these volunteer management methods. Data gathered these ways can quickly become disorganized or end up being inaccurate.
The best way to upgrade how you manage volunteers is with volunteer management software. However, if you are just getting started improving your volunteer program, you might not be ready for paid tool. But there is a simple solution: free volunteer management software!
For some volunteer programs, a paid software subscription is easily worth it, because they may have multiple volunteer managers or locations, a need for more advanced features, and the resources to manage the software.
Learn more about the benefits of investing in volunteer management software.
Other organizations might not be ready for a paid volunteer management software. They may be operating off of a very small budget, only need a few digital tools, or don’t have the people power to manage a more advanced volunteer management software. Free options are hard to come by, but we’ve compiled the best free volunteer management software online options to consider today.
These programs do great work in their communities and still need good volunteer management tools, even if they might not be able to afford, or need, a more robust platform. So, is it possible to find volunteer management software for free?
What Is Free Volunteer Management Software?
Free volunteer management software for nonprofits is software that is designed to streamline and manage volunteers and volunteer opportunities, without charging the user. Good volunteer management software lets you track volunteer time in a dedicated volunteer hours log, easily handle volunteer scheduling (including allowing volunteers schedule themselves), and simplify volunteer check-in at events.
A free volunteer scheduling tool can replace older, more manual methods, saving time and money. Pro tip: you can even find software with check-in systems that automatically log and attribute hours!
Most of this software operates online and across multiple devices, including mobile. Your data is safely stored in the cloud and the privacy of volunteers is maintained.
Volunteer management software does not just help streamline managing and scheduling volunteers, but often has features that help with coordination and communication as well, such as letting you email everyone about an upcoming shift. It can also be helpful if you need to do outreach to recruit more volunteers.
Does Free Volunteer Management Software Exist?
A quick search on volunteer management software will give you a ton of options, some that are paid and some that are free.
Remember, if you are just getting started or are on a tight budget, then you’ll probably want look for free volunteer management software or at least one that has a free trial.
Free volunteer management software does exist, and it can fulfill your basic needs easily enough. But keep in mind that free volunteer management tools can be limited when it comes to available features, number of volunteers you can register, or number of shifts you can post.
Many of the volunteer management tools that are advertised as free will eventually require you to pay for the features you end up needing once you start using the tool. Some even have ads that they make your volunteers look at while using the system!
Watch one volunteer leader’s story on trying to use free volunteer management tools (and what she decided to use instead) below.
Some organizations may have no choice but to use free software and it can be a great way to get started using technology to manage volunteers. But most organizations will quickly find that searching for and investing in the right paid volunteer management software for their program is the way to go.
The good news is that there are a ton of affordable volunteer management tools for you to choose from!
How to Find Free or Affordable Volunteer Management Software
Again, a lot of online searches for volunteer management software will result in a mix of paid and free tools.
To help whittle down your search, you can read blog articles that list affordable volunteer management tools or check out a software review site like g2.com.
You may also want to consider a software that combines volunteer management software with other functions, like donor management. Software like HandsOn Connect and Andar/360 offer this combination. You just want to make sure that the volunteer management modules in these platforms have the features you need.
The best way to find the right volunteer management tool is knowing you budget and what features you need.
Ask yourself questions like:
-Do you need software that will help with your outreach to find more volunteers by making it easy for them to get information about your program and sign up?
-Do you want volunteers to be able to track their own hours for you?
-Do your volunteers need detailed reports they can use on their resumes or college application?
You’ll also want to pay attention to what your subscription does and does not include. For example, it is common to be charged by the number of volunteers you want to put in the database. This can be challenging if you have a larger volunteer pool, or a number of currently inactive volunteers you are hoping will return, such as students who go away to college but might be available during summer break.
While it is hard to find software that is genuinely free, it is possible to get good volunteer management software for under $50 a month. In fact, there are numerous options at a low price, still having the features you need to save time, organize your events better, and avoid paper sign-up sheets.
Check it out: whether you’re looking for a free or a paid system, our Volunteer Management Buyer’s Guide can help.
What Is the Best Free Volunteer Management Software?
The most widely used free volunteer management software is probably SignupGenius, but keep in mind that it is advertising-supported and you’ll have to pay to get rid of the ads. Their paid plans can also be quite limiting when it comes to features and you may end up needing to use other tools to manage the rest of your volunteer program.
While it’s a great tool if you are just getting started, as your volunteer program grows you will probably outgrow the software as well.
The newest affordable volunteer management software is Shift, and you’ll definitely want to add it to your list of tools to try.
Shift is part of the Get Connected by Galaxy Digital volunteer management product suite, which is a family of products trusted by over 50,000 volunteer organizations. With Shift, you can say goodbye to disorganized spreadsheets, paper hours logs, and basic sign-up forms.
It comes with a free, 30-day trial to start and is just $39/month after that. For about a dollar a day, you’ll be able to bring your tasks, tools, and volunteers together in one, easy-to-use system.
Learn more about Shift and get started free
Finding the right volunteer management software can be tough and deciding whether to try a free or a paid subscription is just as difficult. But if you know what features you need, have a good sense of your budget, and take time to research your options, you’ll be using technology to manage your volunteer program in no time!
Not sure where to start in your research? Contact one of our volunteer management technology experts and we’ll help out.