For non-profits, volunteers are an essential and valuable asset to support the delivery of services to the community.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost one-third of Australians aged 15 and over were participating in unpaid voluntary work prior to COVID – contributing almost 600 million hours to communities each year.
While people can be incredibly generous with their time, the ability to manage and engage these volunteers is a constant struggle for the organisations they wish to support.
Difficulties with scheduling, communication, and connection frequently leaves people in the organisation and volunteers feeling frustrated. Volunteers simply want to know where to go and when, and what they will be doing. Yet with minimal resources to manage scheduling activities, and minimal funding to invest in expensive software solutions, non-profits lack the time and money to fully capitalise on their volunteer manpower.
Fortunately, Microsoft has been working hard to address business challenges such as these. They have recently released an impressive and cost-effective solution which is a seamless extension of their flagship products that people already know and love.
Making every volunteer matter
Imagine having a centralised place where volunteers could go (using their smartphone) to:
- share their availability
- see their roster or schedule
- read news and other communications
- access onboarding and training materials
- upload documents or pictures
- connect with staff and other volunteers
No need for websites, emails, phone calls, spreadsheets or multiple apps – just a single, central and easy-to-use interface that’s accessible anytime and from anywhere.
While this may seem like the features of an expensive custom software solution that takes months to deploy, it’s actually something every non-profit that already uses Microsoft Teams can access right now…and at no extra cost.
How? With Microsoft Viva: a new employee experience platform engineered to help organisations create greater connection, insight, purpose, and growth within their workplaces. The Viva Suite comprises several applications such as Viva Topics for knowledge management, Viva Insights for productivity and wellbeing, and Viva Connections to drive participation and engagement.
It’s through Viva Connections that non-profits can really maximise the utility of their volunteers. The app centres around an intuitive, personalised dashboard that users can access on their smartphones via the Teams app. On this dashboard, they can navigate instantly to information they want to find or provide as part of their volunteering efforts.
As an example, consider a non-profit that relies on volunteers to care for and train therapy dogs. Through Viva Connections, puppy volunteers would be able to:
- access onboarding and training materials
- connect with knowledge bases, FAQs or live chats
- engage with other volunteers or find local meet ups
- upload photos of the pup in training
- submit documents, ask questions, or share concerns
By having everything centralised in this way, the organisation can really get to know its volunteers, and connect with them in ways that enable the best possible outcomes for everyone involved in the process.
Viva Connections also makes it easy for organisations to push out important notifications to volunteers at any time – be it news, or things like post-event images with a thank you and reminder of other ways to get involved.
Volunteer scheduling just got easier
Another key feature of Viva Connections is that it can be extended with custom applications to solve real business problems.
For a non-profit struggling to schedule volunteers, a scheduling application could be built into Viva Connections so volunteers can provide their availability and see their schedule via the dashboard.
As an extension of this, the application could harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to match a volunteer’s credentials and availability with volunteer needs. These matches would then be served up to the person in charge of scheduling who need only click a button to confirm it.
Features such as these can represent massive time savings for non-profits that are already short on resources, while allowing for better resource planning and greatly simplifying the experience for volunteers.
Getting started with Viva Connections
With the right tools, every non-profit has the power to create a community of engaged volunteers who feel productive and valued for their efforts.
Viva Connections makes it easy to manage and engage even the largest cohorts of volunteers who may be located in different regions, with vastly different skillsets and availabilities. Best of all, it operates within a highly secure environment that is familiar to people of all ages and technical abilities.
To get started with Viva Connections, all you need is a little support to plan, build and launch the platform, and a willingness from your leadership team to fully embrace its potential.
As a Microsoft Modern Work Solutions Partner, Antares can work with you to:
- review current use of Teams
- offer suggestions based on best practice
- configure and deploy Viva Connections
- assist with training and change management
We can also support you with any custom developments, such as an integrated scheduling application with machine learning and automation capabilities.
Our goal is to help you get the most out of Viva Connections so your organisation can reap the benefits of more efficiency, productivity, and engagement all round.
To learn more about using Viva Connections to manage and engage volunteers in your non-profit, please contact us.