Getting volunteers to actually sign up for events and activities is a regular headache for many volunteer coordinators. You’ve done a great job at volunteer recruitment and onboarding – and now it’s time to actually get things done! Sounds familiar? Then keep reading!
A simple whiteboard or online spreadsheet can work really well for some organisations. Simple things are sometimes the best solution! But if you’re managing a diverse team with various demands about how they want to sign up.. it may be time to upgrade the process and start using a devoted signup app. If you’ve ever tried to schedule volunteers over traditional communication channels like shared spreadsheets, phone calls, email, text messaging or group messaging, you’re probably familiar that issues are most likely to arise.
Of course there are many complex apps that come with a full suite of other features like donation management or e-mail newsletters. But today we’re looking at apps that focus on signing volunteers up for available opportunities (without many additional bells and whistles). And if you’re a small organisation or a charity, we’re sure you can appreciate some free options!
Non-profits often have limited budgets and need to stretch their resources as far as possible. Finding a free volunteer signup app is a great way to save money on staffing and operational costs, while still being able to get their volunteers matched with available opportunities!
Free volunteer signup software
Zelos Team Management
Zelos is a very simple signup app for volunteer teams. It lets you quickly dispatch tasks and opportunities, and communicate with your volunteers through live messaging. They can download a smartphone app or access your project through a web browser on their computer. Administrators can also assign task participants and pull detailed hour reports.
The standard subscription is free forever, and the number of team members in each project is not limited. The premium prices are also fixed subscriptions, and not dependent on the number of app users.
- Perfect for: quickly dispatching jobs to your team of volunteers
- Weaknesses: no public page, all tasks are private and visible to team members only
- Special powers: live messaging with app notifications
Point is a good-looking mobile-first volunteer management solution that is focused on creating events for signup. Volunteers can browse the app for opportunities in their favorite nonprofit (or generally in their area) and sign up for events they find suitable. Once there is a list of attendants, the app reminds them about the upcoming events and administrators can also reach out via email.
The free app does everything necessary for running successful events. Upgrading to a paid tier with monthly payments unlocks additional opportunities, for example using check-in stations and running background checks.
- Perfect for: nonprofits signing up local volunteers in the U.S.
- Weaknesses: all tasks are public and promoted to the local volunteers
- Special powers: promoties opportunities to volunteers outside your network
Signup Genius is a web-based tool for creating simple and beautiful listings with volunteering opportunities. You can embed these on your own website or direct your volunteers to the devoted Signup Genius page. Administrators can also configure automatic reminders and send e-mails to make sure everyone is on the same page.
The free plan comes with everything necessary to collect unlimited signups. The paid plans charge a flat fee each month and unlock additional features.
- Perfect for: when you need a very simple page for signups
- Weaknesses: the free version shows advertisements on the signup page
- Special powers: collecting money on signups
Signup.com creates private and easy-to use signups for your project. You can invite unlimited participants to view the opportunities, and send email reminders to everyone involved.
It is possible to upgrade to a paid plan with monthly payments and get access to SMS reminders and additional features such as waitlists, check-in and hour tracking.
- Perfect for: when you need a private page for signups
- Weaknesses: cannot limit participant slots in free tier
- Special powers: easy shift swapping
Why you should use volunteer signup instead of traditional scheduling
Volunteer signup on the other hand offers numerous benefits that promote engagement, flexibility, and volunteer satisfaction.
Volunteer signup allows volunteers to choose their preferred dates and times based on their availability. This flexibility helps accommodate volunteers’ personal commitments, ensuring they can contribute without feeling overly burdened or restricted by a fixed schedule. It allows for a more diverse and engaged pool of volunteers.
By giving volunteers the freedom to select their own shifts, you empower them to take ownership of their involvement. They can choose time slots that align with their interests and availability, increasing the likelihood of their participation. This approach encourages a sense of personal investment and commitment, leading to higher engagement and volunteer retention rates.
Efficient resource allocation
Volunteer signup enables organizations to assess the number of available volunteers for each shift or event accurately. This information can help optimize resource allocation, ensuring that there are enough volunteers present for each task or area of responsibility. It prevents overstaffing or understaffing, allowing for smoother operations and better utilization of resources.
Reduced scheduling conflicts
Volunteer scheduling can sometimes result in conflicts when volunteers are assigned to shifts that clash with their personal commitments or other obligations. By using volunteer signup, volunteers can choose slots that do not conflict with their existing schedules, reducing the likelihood of cancellations or last-minute changes. It promotes a more harmonious and reliable volunteer program.
Volunteer signup promotes a culture of empowerment and autonomy among volunteers. They have the freedom to select tasks or roles that align with their skills, interests, and passions. This sense of choice and empowerment can lead to increased motivation, satisfaction, and a positive volunteer experience overall.
Implementing a volunteer signup system can simplify administrative tasks. It reduces the need for manual scheduling, coordination, and communication with individual volunteers. The signup platform can automatically send reminders, updates, and confirmations to volunteers, saving time and effort for organizers.
Not sold on signup? You can also take a look at our shortlist of the best volunteer scheduling apps. Or if you need a more complex feature set, here’s our choices for top volunteer management software.
It’s important to consider the specific needs of your organization when choosing software for getting your people to the right place at the right time. Our blog post about how to start a volunteer program can also help you understand the context and plan better!