Last year, Rob Jackson (robjacksonconsulting.com) and Jayne Cravens (coyotecommunications.com) — ME — drafted and circulated a survey regarding software used to manage volunteer information. The purpose of the survey was to gather some basic data that might help organizations that involve volunteers to make better-informed decisions when choosing software, and to help software designers to understand the needs of those organizations. We also wanted to get a sense of what organizations were thinking about volunteer management software.
We promoted the survey every way we knew how – emailing our contacts directly, posting to various online discussion groups, posting repeatedly to our social networks, and asking others to share the survey with their readers and networks. Then we published the results of the survey here (in PDF); it includes an executive summary of our findings, as well as the complete responses to questions and our analysis of such.
Software companies and designers: you can learn a LOT from this report to improve your products and your communications with customers!
We learned how much managers of volunteers love spreadsheets, even those that have specialized software for managing volunteers.
We also learned a lot from this report that has nothing to do with software. In the survey, we asked a lot of questions that didn’t relate directly to software, like about how many volunteers these organizations managed, as well as what volunteers did. And the answers about what volunteers do at various organizations were surprising.
Rob and I did not have time to analyze all of the comments made in answer to some questions; for all questions, we listed the comments made, but we did not always offer any observations about such, or group the responses into categories. We welcome the efforts of other researchers to offer their own analysis of the data provided.