A volunteer management system is a useful way to keep track of your organization’s participants and events. In fact, a good system is vital for keeping your project running smoothly for everyone. However, finding the right platform to accomplish this task can be tricky.
Fortunately, you can easily adapt WordPress, the world’s most popular way to build a website, to create your own affordable, personalized volunteer management system.
In this post, we’ll discuss the purpose and standard features of a quality volunteer management system. Then we’ll walk you through how to create your own using WordPress. Let’s get right to it!
An introduction to volunteer management systems
When we use the term ‘volunteer management system’, we’re referring to an online platform that helps you execute key tasks related to keeping track of the people who donate their time to your organization. This can help you stay coordinated, staff your events, and monitor each person’s contribution.
Some features of a well-rounded volunteer management system include:
- A database of all your volunteers and their skills.
- Signup functionality for events and other opportunities to help out.
- A way for volunteers to stay informed about upcoming events.
- Tracking capabilities for monitoring volunteer participation.
- Access to key documents containing rules, regulations, and safety information.
- Content restriction to protect private organization materials.
With these elements at your fingertips, you can find the best volunteers for specific tasks and ensure crucial events are staffed. You’ll also be able to provide verification of volunteer hours and improve the safety of your volunteers when they’re ‘on the beat.’
How to create a volunteer management system with WordPress (in 6 steps)
Hopefully, you now feel confident in your understanding of a volunteer management system’s key components. Now let’s discuss how you can use WordPress to bring together these features and launch a full-fledged system of your own.
1. Set up your WordPress website
Of course, to start building a volunteer management system, you’ll need a WordPress site. We recommend going with self-hosted WordPress so that you have access to all of WordPress’ extensive customization options, overall functionality, themes, and plugins:
This means you’ll need a domain name and web host. You’ll also need to install WordPress unless you choose a hosting provider who will do it for you.
Here are two posts to get you up and running with your basic WordPress site:
- The best WordPress hosting 👈 we recommend Bluehost to beginners because it’s easy to use and includes a free domain name.
- How to make a WordPress website 👈 this post will show you how to install WordPress and get the basics up and running.
2. Choose an appropriate theme
Once you have your basic WordPress site, you’ll want to choose a WordPress theme, which controls the design of your site. WordPress applies a default theme automatically, but you can make your volunteer management system more visually appealing and functional by switching to a specialized theme.
There are several options available that may fit the bill. For starters, you could check out our free multi-purpose theme, Neve.
It includes access to several demos you can use to adapt it to specific purposes. Neve Charity is ideal for non-profit organizations supported by volunteers:
Charitize is another free theme available in the WordPress Theme Directory. With extensive customization features and plugin compatibility, this is a second solid choice for those building on a budget.
However, if you’re able to throw a little money at your volunteer management system, you can also look into premium themes. Forward is a high-quality theme designed with non-profits in mind:
It features extensive customization of branding, fonts, and other visual elements. Forward is also compatible with the WooCommerce Campaign Extension, which you can use to raise money on your WordPress site. You’ll also find several unique widgets and built-in staff and sponsor directories to introduce your key supporters. Licenses start at $45.
Once you’ve picked a theme, here’s how to change from the default theme to your new theme 👈
3. Create a volunteer database
There are two WordPress plugins you could use to store information regarding who donates their time and talent to your organization. The first is Participants Database:
This plugin lets you create a list of all the volunteers who contribute to your cause. You can completely customize the fields to incorporate information such as what role each volunteer fills, any relevant skills they might have, contact information, availability, and more.
If you want something a little more complex and robust, consider using Wired instead:
This is a volunteer management plugin with several useful features we’ll mention throughout the rest of this post. For example, you can create individual volunteer profiles to organize all the information we mentioned above and more.
Once you’ve picked your preferred solution, here’s how to install a WordPress plugin 👈
4. Post events and enable volunteer sign-ups
An event calendar is a simple way to help keep volunteers in the loop regarding upcoming opportunities with your organization. The Events Calendar is a tried-and-true plugin for displaying this sort of information in WordPress:
It’s also wise to enable volunteers to sign up for events online to streamline the process and keep it organized. You could create a custom form using WPForms to do so:
Current Version: 220.127.116.11
Last Updated: September 17, 2019
Or, if you chose Wired for creating your volunteer database, you could utilize its native signup functionality. You can also configure it to send out email reminders about approaching commitments.
5. Track volunteer engagement
Some of your volunteers may be completing mandatory service hours for various reasons. If that’s the case, you’ll likely have to monitor their participation and report back to their supervisor. Tracking volunteer engagement automatically can make this easier.
Time Clock enables volunteers to clock in and out for shifts, events, and other opportunities. It’s very easy to use, so it shouldn’t be difficult for your volunteers to pick up:
Current Version: 1.2.1
Last Updated: June 3, 2019
Wired will also track volunteer involvement, but it doesn’t enable users to clock in and out to monitor how many hours they’ve worked. This feature is more useful for determining a person’s commitment to your organization over long periods.
6. Limit access to your site’s volunteer features
While you’ll be using your WordPress site to manage your volunteers, your site is still a publicly accessible website. For this reason, you may want to protect your content – such as volunteer guidelines or other downloadable documents – from visitors who stumble across it.
Fortunately, WordPress includes user roles out of the box. You can limit users’ access to an extent without help from a plugin. However, User Role Editor provides more customization options:
You might also consider password protecting content you don’t want random visitors or even newer volunteers to see. To do so, you can change the Visibility status in the post or page editor to Password Protected.
Create your volunteer management system today
A volunteer management system is a necessity if your organization relies on volunteers to keep its doors open. Being able to keep track of who your volunteers are, as well as their skills and level of participation, can provide valuable information to help your organization succeed.
You can create your own fully functional volunteer management system with WordPress by following these six steps:
- Set up your WordPress site.
- Choose an appropriate theme.
- Create a volunteer database.
- Post events and enable volunteer sign-ups.
- Track volunteer engagement.
- Limit access to your site’s volunteer features.
Do you have any questions about using WordPress to create a volunteer management system? Let us know in the comments section below!