Better Engagement with Higher Logic’s New Volunteer Manager

By Rob Wenger posted Aug 24, 2015 04:20 PM


I am very excited to tell you more about our Volunteer Manager product release. What we are announcing now reflects thousands of hours of development.  Perhaps more importantly, it also reflects the most significant pre-development investments we have ever made as a company. We anticipate all those investments will pay enormous dividends in engagement.

Engagement – at Higher Logic, it’s the gold standard. We think we have this in common with the organizations we serve. As members of a organization come together - meet, communicate and work on shared goals –  they bond. Those personal bonds are the strongest forces keeping a community together. Those bonds are the result of engagement.    

We’ve been looking hard at organizational engagement for some time. A lot of our pre-development investment was (no surprise) engagement - both online and in dozens of in-person events with clients across the country. That invaluable input and the further contributions from consultants, partners and staff prepared the way for this product release. 

Online activity such as posting, recommending and completing profiles is essential. But that is only a part of the engagement picture for organizations. Following our deep evaluation, we concluded that the next step is to bring the commitments organizational members make into the online experience – both to acknowledge those contributions and to allow for their management. We knew we had to focus on volunteering.   

Volunteer hours are the lifeblood of the organization – leading, teaching, creating knowledge, raising funds. But in working with our clients we found the following:

  1. A lot of volunteering happens at the local level. Of course, participation at the highest level is vital. But local volunteer commitments are often more than two-thirds of the total volunteer hours dedicated by members of the organization. Most volunteering at larger organizations, in the overwhelming number of cases we reviewed, is done at the local level by chapter/section leaders, event organizers and volunteer opportunity participants.
  2. Most volunteering at the local level goes unrecorded. The AMS/database captures the activity of members at the highest level. But local volunteer efforts rarely get recorded there. The spreadsheets and lists most local leaders use to manage volunteer opportunities may pass from chapter president to chapter president, but it is pretty rare when they impact the larger database.
  3. Willing volunteers often aren't aware of opportunities or don’t get asked. Members are willing to do more. Surveys across multiple clients show that a majority of members will take action within a volunteer context. This is especially true where the volunteer opportunities match their interests, skills and the amount of time they are willing to dedicate.   Many more members will volunteer if asked.  Members cannot volunteer if they don't know an opportunity exists. 

Cumulatively, these dynamics significantly stunt volunteer growth, leadership development and member retention. That’s the bad news. The good news is these are, essentially, problems a social/professional software platform can solve. The best news is that Higher Logic has comprehensive solutions ready in the new Volunteer Manager module.

Volunteer Manager offers comprehensive management and performance dashboards. Opportunities can be precisely crafted and volunteers recruited using multiple functions such as time, experience level, location, and areas of interest/expertise.  Value levels and volunteer program tracking prove ROI for your programs while your volunteers receive the recognition they deserve.

Volunteer Manager successfully reflects our goals for the product: increased volunteer engagement, fully tracked and reported, in a system that is easy to use for volunteers and admins. Specifically, here is some of what the module offers:

  • Deeply configurable volunteer opportunities and macro-settings to ensure your organizational values and culture are represented
  • Volunteer opportunity characteristics include time commitment, experience desired, security groups required, expertise required and more
  • Dual methods to build volunteer teams:
    • Application based: potential volunteers can apply for participation and be evaluated for individual volunteer opportunities
      • Custom application forms for each volunteer opportunity where desired
      • Online application review interface
    • Auto Accept: streamlined process for opportunities in which everyone can engage
  • Integrated social rewards and acknowledgment including points-based volunteer leaderboards, profile badges and more
    • Dynamic recruiting by volunteer managers based on known interests and expertise fully integrated into opportunity creation
  • User nomination of other users
  • Full email integration and automatic messaging  
  • Community volunteer opportunity with management by community administrators
  • Volunteer Administrator status allowing dedicated rights to manage volunteer opportunities
  • AMS/Database integration - uses the information previously trapped in the database and writes back where the AMS allows
    • Recognize and reward a lifetime of volunteer activity
    • Allows that activity to be used as the basis for recruitment and consideration of future volunteer work
    • Activity Sync write-back of core volunteer activities to the AMS/database

There is much more. I encourage you to take a deeper look. Please check out my product announcement webinar recording.  Of course, we’d love to answer your questions on how the Volunteer Manager module meets your organization’s needs.