Posts About How To Make The Most Of Your Relatrix’ Community Portal Tools

Three Ways To Recognize School Volunteers

April 23-29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week and the time of year when most schools recognize their volunteers for their commitment of time, energy and talent to work with students, teachers and staff at your school.

Here are three ways to recognize the contributions of your school volunteers:

#1 Get Kids Involved

Face it. A large segment of volunteers in public schools are there because either their children, grand-children or family members attend the school, or because they had been involved in education sometime in their career. Even if that doesn’t describe your most outstanding volunteers, chances are they are there for the kids.

So as a way to reinforce how important their contribution is, ask your students to take the lead in recognizing the school’s volunteers. Something as simple as a Thank You Poster, or a Student-Produced Video can go a long way in showing your volunteers they are appreciated. Be sure to take pictures or videos and add them to your school website so the rest of your community knows and will appreciate their efforts too.

#2 Be Specific

While every school has numerous volunteers and they all bring value to your campus, pointing to specific ways they contribute helps focus attention. So whether you have an individual volunteer or program for which you can create a story, start there.

Use words and pictures to explain the impact that they made on the school, staff or students. Talk about their dedication and energy. Consider interviewing them and learning about their story and what motivates them to volunteer. Be sure you get pictures not just of the volunteer but the outcomes of their efforts. Put it all together in an article that you can post on your school or district website and add to your school’s social media sites.

#3 Go Social

National Volunteer Week is sponsored, in part by the Points Of Light Institute, a national volunteer and services organization. As part of National Volunteer Week they have several social channels to help reinforce and amplify your stories.

TWITTER – Use hashtag #NVM for any posts related to your volunteer recognition activities this week.

FACEBOOK – During National Volunteer Week you can nominate a volunteer at your school for national recognition by using bit.ly/DPOLnom

To see other ways to use social media as part of your volunteer recognition efforts go to the Points of Light webpage (https://ww2.pointsoflight.org/nvw-toolkit)


By whatever means you choose to recognize your volunteers remember that you have lots of data to draw from in your EZVolunteer database. You can track total hours your volunteers work, as well who participates in high impact programs. Don’t let this week go by without making an effort to show your school volunteers how much they mean to everyone in your school and district.

Small District Rocks Community Engagement – A TSPRA Round Table Session

Last week I had the pleasure of working with Karen Anderson of Red Oak ISD to present a session at the TSPRA conference in Galveston, TX. Aside from the wonderful seaside venue the topic was a great case study in how small districts can do a great job implementing a new online process to replace what was largely a paper-based and manual process.

After selecting our EZVolunteer program for volunteer management Red Oak ISD decided to run a pilot project with the software at one of their schools. They wanted to identify the process and procedures they needed to put in place before deploying to their district. The went district-wide at the start of the 2016/17 school year and are already showing great numbers in terms of registered and approved volunteers and volunteer hours recorded.

One new ‘best practice‘ we picked up from Karen was using the Forms module of the system to create a ‘Teacher Request‘ form so any classroom teacher can request volunteers for a project or event. The form is automatically routed to the school’s volunteer coordinator who creates a sign-up opportunity in EZVolunteer and notifies approved volunteers.

You can download the presentation used during the round table session to learn more about the goals for implementing an online volunteer system and the lessons learned to-date, and how Red Oak ISD is rocking community engagement in their district.

Recruiting Volunteers – How To Create Interest?

Schools engage parents, community leaders, and business partners to volunteer in and out of the classroom throughout the year. Recruiting these volunteers presents its own challenges – both in terms of finding people willing to serve and matching them with activities in which they are interested.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics school and youth services was the second most active volunteer segment in the US during the 2012 and 2013 school year with over 16.2 million volunteers and more than 800 million hours of volunteer time. So how do you get these volunteers into your schools?

First, let’s examine who volunteers. Thirty percent of volunteers in the BLS study were 35 to 44-years-of-age, and while school volunteerism tapered off with age, seniors volunteered more than 80 hours during the year, compared to a national average of 50 hours.  Among the volunteers with school age children, 44% were moms and 38% were dads. While parents in all educational levels were more likely to volunteer than non-parents, the levels went up with bachelor and post-graduate college education.

Of all volunteers in the BLS report 43% were motivated to seek volunteer opportunities with their school or district on their own, while 40% were recruited by someone in the volunteer organization. This makes outreach to parents, family and community members vital in creating a broad and effective volunteer program.

Looking where volunteers choose to donate their time the BLS report showed that overall the following activities were most popular with volunteers – collecting, preparing and serving food (10.9 percent); fundraising (10.0 percent) and tutoring or teaching (9.8 percent).  Men most often provided general labor or coached, refereed, or supervised sports teams, while women prepared and served food, fund-raised, or tutored students.

Why do people volunteer?  Often parents find time to volunteer in their child’s school to have a first-hand account of what their son or daughter is doing and to get to know the staff. However, according to Joanna Saisan, M.S.W., Melinda Smith, M.A., and Gina Kemp in Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits there are four top reasons why volunteers are motivated to serve:

  • Volunteering connects you to others
  • Volunteering is good for your mind and body
  • Volunteering can advance your career
  • Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life

EZVolunteer helps you reach out to your community to build your district-wide corps of volunteers with eNewsletters on your volunteer and partnership efforts.  You can also send targeted messages to registered volunteers based on their interests (e.g. – coaching or tutoring) and affiliations (e.g. – parents or seniors) to help recruit for specific programs and events.

As an enterprise solution there is no more separate sign-up required for each school where your volunteers will work. EZVolunteer provides a simple online registration process where volunteers choose their schools and interests, and you can screen them in real time before they are added to your list.

The takeaway is that volunteer and partner recruitment is crucial, and like all communications, developing a targeted message to different segments of your community will improve the outcome of your efforts. Make the process of getting involved easy for volunteers and simplify how you manage volunteers from the district and the campus level, and the prospect of beating the average in volunteer numbers and hours goes way up!

To learn more about EZVolunteer visit:
relatrix.com/products/ezvolunteer

To check out the details of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data referenced in this post visit: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.htm

To learn why volunteers engage in volunteering check out http://www.helpguide.org/life/volunteer_opportunities_benefits_volunteering.htm

Four Reasons To Record Volunteer Hours

As you scan down your list of volunteers to determine who to give the biggest shout out, it might be worth noting how much time they really spend on behalf of your schools and students.  While most don’t do it for the recognition, there are some good reasons why you should keep track of volunteer hours.

Reason#1:  Time Is Money

When your school and district can demonstrate on a grant application how many community members are engaged in your schools the chances of your grant award only goes up.  When you can actually provide quantitative data on volunteer hours the odds improve even more.  In fact, more-and-more socially-minded, non-profit organizations require engagement metrics either as part of the application or as part of the reporting of outcomes.  Make your application stand out with verifiable details like growth in volunteer numbers and hours, year-over-year and school-by-school.

Reason#2:  Engagement Equals Student Success

Because the research shows that student outcomes improve when parents actively participate in their children’s education, family engagement is becoming a requirement in a growing number of schools.  Making sure that family and community members are matched to useful in-class or office volunteer opportunities and that you record their hours helps quantify that engagement when looking at end-of-term results.

Reason#3:  Community Partners Seek ROI

Collaboration between your school or district and local partners highlights the business or organization that is working with your students. Often the partner is contributing employee time, as well as other material and supplies.  Tracking all those hours and their value, and then sharing that back with those organizations shows your commitment and can help build an even stronger, sustainable partnership.

Reason#4:  What About House Bill 5?

If you work for a Texas school district, someone in your central office has started pouring over the new education statutes from the recent Texas legislative session.  As part of those statutes in House Bill 5 is a requirement to begin reporting at the district and campus level on ‘community and student engagement’, assign a rating and report the rating to TEA.

While we found no explicit requirement for quantitative data on volunteer numbers and time, what better way to create a metric that addresses accountability, promotes volunteerism, and leans toward legislative intent in measuring engagement in your schools.

In other states there may not be specific legislation yet that requires you to track volunteer hours.  However, there is a growing emphasis by state K-12 agencies and legislatures to quantify and report on community involvement.  We have spoken to districts in several different regions where similar bills are on the legislative agenda.

To learn more about Relatrix and how our EZVolunteer and EZPartner products can help support your efforts to recruit volunteers and partners, as well as record and report hours by campus, visit our website to Contact Us or call our offices at 800.570.6234 ext. 1.