On-line sign-ups make managing volunteers easy!
I’m always looking for new and better ways to do things with over 200 Master Gardeners in Travis County. It’s often very challenging to arrange and schedule volunteers for our events. I had been struggling to find a way to organize our hotline volunteers. The EMG volunteer in charge of scheduling had been doing so by mass-emailing an Excel file, which everyone then proceeded to fill in and send back to her.
As you might guess, there were lots of conflicts to be sorted out when people wanted to work at the phone desk on the same day. So when the task of organizing the hotline fell to me, I knew that I needed to find a better way to do things, I was stumped as to what it might be. I pondered the issue for a few months and was about ready to pick the best of my few not-so-great options when, one of my newest EMGs casually told me about a program she was using to organize her Sunday school potlucks. After taking a closer look, the program called SignUp Genius seemed very flexible.
I found I was able to organize all the different tasks for an event that occurs on one day (e.g., a garden fair), or organize one SignUp Genius page for a multiple day event (e.g., hotline volunteers). I was also able to limit the number of volunteers that needed for each task, or booth, or whatever. Once that limit is reached, no more volunteers can sign up.
Volunteers can cancel their own sign up without contacting the coordinator, and they can even request to switch with another person who may have signed up for the task that they really want to do. And one of my favorite things: you can set SignUp Genius to send a reminder email to folks so that they don’t forget they’ve committed to your event!
Using this online software to help manage signups for volunteer events is now part of they way we organize most of our volunteer events. To give you the inside scoop, I’d be happy to give Extension Master Gardener coordinators access to some of our events on the SignUp Genius system, so please don’t hesitate to contact me!
What other options are you using to manage volunteer sign-ups?
Daphne Richards, Texas AgriLife Extension
Travis County Extension Agent