West debuts new volunteer management software

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The web-based system aims to boost kettle earnings.


Gone are the days of using Excel spreadsheets to sign up volunteers for The Salvation Army Red Kettle season.

The Western Territory’s Community Relations and Development department unveiled the territory’s new volunteer management software earlier this month. The system, accessible at volunteer.usawest.org, simplifies volunteer registration and management for both coordinators and volunteers. It will soon include an integrated “Protecting the Mission” database—The Salvation Army’s screening process for working with at-risk populations––allowing volunteers to register for events and complete their background checks using one system.

Seven divisions are currently using the software, according to Software Architect Jesse Melnick, who designed the system. He said the territory should benefit from the consolidation of numerous volunteer platforms.

“Now, we’re all in one reporting database and we have one volunteer base,” Melnick said. “If a volunteer moves from Hawaii to California and wants to volunteer in California, the volunteer coordinator in California will be able to see all of their history in Hawaii.”

Volunteer coordinators can add new volunteer opportunities while volunteers can view opportunities in their area, sign up for events and switch their scheduled shifts via the website.

“We’re making the volunteers’ lives easier, but also making the coordinators’ lives easier,” Melnick said.

Victor Leonardi, special events and volunteer manager for the Hawaii Division, said he has benefitted from the introduction of the new system, especially with an upcoming Thanksgiving feeding service that involves 850 volunteers.

“Trying to sign up 850 volunteers in the past had been a headache,” Leonardi said. “This new system is great because you can go in and tell it your maximum numbers for each position, then that position closes [automatically] and it won’t take any more. It makes my life way easier.”

Getting each of the volunteer coordinators on board with the new system is the next step, according to Yvonne Wrobel, donor management coordinator for the Western Territory.

“We’d like the divisions to have a volunteer opportunity in mind when they set it up,” Wrobel said. “They need to know how to set the event up and make sure when the volunteer finds it, it says the shift and time and everything the volunteer needs.”

The software should have all of its features, including “Protecting the Mission,” intact by the beginning of 2014, according to Melnick. Another one of the upcoming additions to the software includes an interface with Portfolio, The Salvation Army’s donor management database.

“Volunteering is essentially giving and Portfolio is a giving management database so we now have these things connected and that’s really powerful from a marketing standpoint,” Melnick said.

The new system figures to provide a boost for the upcoming kettle season. According to Western Territorial kettle data for 2012, volunteer kettle workers netted nearly three times as much income per hour as paid workers.

“We’re hoping the new system helps get more volunteers signed up,” said Tim Schaal, director of software development for the Western Territory. “Volunteers create an integration point for others to get involved in The Salvation Army.”

—Jared McKiernan


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