Carolina Raptor Center relies on a large volunteer base to further its two missions: rehabilitation of injured raptors for release back into the wild and education of the public about the role these birds play in the ecosystem.
Volunteers do a variety of jobs, including working in the Center’s visitor center, feeding and documenting health measurements of resident birds, acting as docents, providing transportation of injured birds to the Center, and building and maintenance on the Center’s property. Before implementing Volunteer Connect the organization performed volunteer signup and tracking entirely on paper with staff members and endured the time-consuming task of hand-entering it into a hodgepodge of databases such as Access and Microsoft Excel.
And the job of compiling statistics about its volunteers for grants and board updates also proved time-intensive.
“My staff cringed every time I sent out a request for information like volunteer hours because they always have to stop what they’re doing and go compile it,” said Jim Warren, Executive Director of Carolina Raptor Center. “It took away from their mission-specific work.”
Carolina Raptor Center implemented Volunteer Connect in fall 2011, enabling volunteers to sign up for shifts via the organization’s website and staff members to track volunteer data. The system had an immediate effect on volunteers and staff members.
“Our volunteers see the benefits of less paperwork and a centralized system. We view them as key stakeholders, and it’s important to make their volunteer experience positive,” Warren said. “From a staff morale standpoint, it’s been great because they no longer need to pull binders and shuffle through paper to figure out hours.”
The organization now has access to a robust database of its volunteers available via the web portal. Warren and others can quickly pull reports that show anything from total hours worked and volunteers segmented by employer to volunteer place of residence and age, giving them relevant data for grant applications and reporting, future marketing campaigns, and acquisition of matching funds from corporations.
“It’s amazing to think about the diversity of nonprofits that have implemented this solution,” Warren said. “We really have no mission overlap, but we all needed a better way to organize and communicate with our volunteers. Really it’s a good solution for any organization that has a large volunteer base.”