How nonprofits benefit from effective time management and volunteer time tracking

Ieva Sipola 30.11.2021
nonprofit time tracking benefits

Most nonprofit organizations do meaningful work, benefitting the lives of the communities where they operate. However, besides working on their primary cause, nonprofits also deal with administrative duties just the same as traditional businesses. They also need to answer emails, schedule meetings, issue and pay invoices and do other manual and time-consuming tasks. 

One of the common issues many nonprofit organizations run into is ineffective time management. It may seem that volunteer time tracking is less needed than tracking the time of employees in a regular business since volunteers dedicate their time for free. However, several aspects of time tracking can be really helpful to nonprofit and charity organizations as well, saving them time and freeing resources to use for their main cause.

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MAD Leadership Foundation is one of the nonprofit organizations using DeskTime time tracking software in their daily operations. Their content manager Vonani Ngomana told us, “Time tracking has been valuable to us as an organization. Due to COVID-19 and the postponing of most of our fundraising events, we’ve had to cut costs and let go of our office space; this meant working from home. We have been using DeskTime to track what we’re working on and manage our time as a team. Time tracking has also helped each team member monitor and analyze their productivity and keep a healthy balance between work and rest.”

Below, we’ve listed 5 specific ways how time management and volunteer time tracking can benefit nonprofit organizations and charities that work with volunteers.

1. Improve staff and volunteer management

Nonprofit staffing can be a challenge due to irregular or inconsistent funding. To keep things running smoothly, you must have the necessary amount of staffers and volunteers for each project, and you must also ensure that you have sufficient funds to pay everyone’s salary (or to cover the expenses of volunteers). 

If you use an app to track volunteer hours, you can acquire valuable data which can enable you to:

  • Acquire a better understanding of how many people are required to manage your organization’s operations or a particular type of campaign.
  • Better predict how many people you need to hire or attract as volunteers – and how much additional cash you’ll need to seek if you want to broaden the scope of your programs. 
  • Understand how much time it takes to fill a vacancy and how long it takes to train and onboard new workers.
  • Determine the most active volunteers and give incentives and awards that demonstrate your gratitude to them.

2. Attract funding more efficiently

Using time tracking software for nonprofits, organizations can show precise documentation and reports of their work and thus predict their budgets more accurately. This puts them in a better position to apply for government grants, renew existing funding requests, or prepare for meetings with key donors. 

Timesheets or reports from your volunteer time tracking app can serve as proof that you have a continuous and reliable team of volunteers working at your organization. This will demonstrate to the donors that your nonprofit has the capacity and experience to execute the planned program.

Employee working on a computer

3. Improve event project management and budgeting

Nonprofits often undertake recurring projects, e.g., organizing charity campaigns, throwing holiday fundraising events, publishing annual reports, etc. If all the steps of your project are well documented, including the time spent on each of them, you can review and analyze the project’s success and make adjustments for next year. 

Thanks to employee or volunteer time tracking apps, you can determine the exact cost of any program. From soliciting donations to writing newsletters and building a social media presence, time tracking indicates the amount of time spent on any project – and the accompanying expenses. When you meticulously measure the duration and cost of activities, it becomes much easier to allocate resources and manage budgets properly. 

Make sure that your employee or volunteer hour tracker app enables each member to enter the amount of time spent on each project, in addition to automatic tracking of the used apps.

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4. Automate manual administrative tasks

Especially if you come from a small nonprofit organization, you have probably worn several hats – not only working on program planning, fundraising, and execution but also doing a bunch of administrative tasks. 

For nonprofits time tracking will allow you to spot and analyze what kind of tasks take up the most time and automate them. For example, you can check how much time you’ve spent on Google Sheets at the end of each month, preparing reports and invoices. If you feel that this task would become lighter with some automation, you can opt for invoicing software instead.

5. Create reports with ease

If your nonprofit accepts grants, you are expected to report how you spent the money either on a monthly or yearly basis. Whatever your reporting requirements are, grantmakers, sponsors, and funders are always curious about what you did with their money. 

As employee pay is one of the main expenses for most nonprofits, your donors will anticipate considerable funds to be allocated to it – and will likely want some report that their money has been put to good use. Data from your employee timesheets or your volunteer time tracking app can help you highlight the hard work your staff does to further the goal of your nonprofit.

desktime reports feature

Time tracking can improve the workflow of nonprofit organizations

Efficient operation is at the foundation of any successful nonprofit. And, for programs to have a powerful impact, they must be well managed. Something as simple as measuring employee time can help you provide staff with what they need to achieve campaign objectives while staying within your budget.

Matt Weidle, Business Development Manager at Buyer’s Guide told us, “For any nonprofit, there are likely to be some projects and tasks that do not produce the expected results. Spending time and resources on initiatives that don’t have a major impact means that you’re diverting resources away from successful activities. For people managing nonprofits, time tracking data can help you see if the time and effort put into a program aren’t yielding the anticipated outcomes, so you can then transfer your attention (and funds) to another effective program that has a greater impact on your community. When you know where your time is most valuable, you can begin to spend it more wisely.”

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