If you have lots of volunteers actively raising funds for your nonprofit, an online portal can help you quickly fine‐tune and update your strategies and tactics and better manage people. But if you do decide to switch from paper to online volunteer management, make sure to opt for a portal that provides maximum flexibility to adapt to your organization's needs, suggest Traci Wolfe, director of the annual fund, and Nicole M. Sibley, annual fund data analyst, Amherst College (Amherst, MA).As an early adopter, Amherst had its advancement IT department build its volunteer portal in‐house in the days when few out‐of‐the‐box solutions existed. Called Classlink, the portal serves the college's more than 1,100 volunteers. Accessing it with a username and password, all volunteers receive updates on the annual fund and special events, use contact information and giving history of the classmates they are assigned and track the progress of their class. They also get real‐time reporting of donations, so they can send thank‐you letters promptly.At the same time, Classlink gives volunteer class agents and the annual fund staff real‐time information on how volunteers are doing as well as access to all the other information. The portal has freed up staff time to devote to strategizing, Sibley says, because volunteers can get answers to basic questions online rather than having to call or e‐mail staff members for help.“When we think strategically about the annual fund and how volunteers fit in for soliciting, we can be really strategic with Classlink,” she says.As a “home‐grown tool,” Classlink gives the staff flexibility to customize it to their needs. For instance, it has a special module to help several volunteers solicit larger donors.“It's real bang for the buck, even though it's special for three people, which you couldn't do with an off‐the‐shelf product,” Sibley says. “It made sense because of the high impact in terms of dollars with these donors.”Creating the portal in‐house “certainly was an investment in staff time and resources,” Wolfe concedes. But it has “absolutely” paid off, she adds. “If you're going to ask very busy people to spend time volunteering for their alma mater, you want to make sure that you're making it as easy as possible for them.”If you lack the resources to build your own volunteer portal, more commercial off‐the‐shelf products are available now than when Amherst created Classlink, Wolfe and Sibley say. But make sure the company you partner with is able to make adjustments “if you need tweaks,” Sibley adds.Sources: Nicole M. Sibley, Annual Fund Data Analyst, Amherst College, Amherst, MA. Phone (413) 542‐5900. E‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.amherst.edu/give/volunteerTraci Wolfe, Director of the Annual Fund, Amherst College, Amherst, MA. Phone (413) 542‐8357. E‐mail: email@example.com. Website: www.amherst.edu/give/volunteer
Successful Fundraising – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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