What will the partnership with Blerter entail?
VolunteerLocal and Blerter are complementary solutions that, when used in tandem, provide a powerful, full-stack communications interface for our customers. This partnership is designed to provide a seamless user-experience for customers leveraging both platforms, in addition to a forthcoming technology integration that will push data across systems.
How did VolunteerLocal start?
The first iteration of the platform was actually built in 2003 for the Des Moines Arts Festival here in Iowa (where we’re headquartered). The volunteer coordinator needed a technology that would help her recruit 350+ volunteers into jobs and shifts for the three-day event. VolunteerLocal worked like a charm that first year – and we’re proud to say that the Des Moines Arts Festival is still a client of ours, 14 years later.
In 2007, the Hy-Vee Triathlon came to town (a USAT sanctioned event). The organizers of the triathlon used VolunteerLocal and fell in love with its ease-of-use and functionality. That led to an introduction to USA Triathlon, which launched our company into the national spotlight. Today, we are one of several fantastic technology partners to USA Triathlon.
In the last three years, we’ve experienced tremendous growth – especially in the world of running events. We’ve found that our system is a terrific solution for this market. With VolunteerLocal, our race directors can add locations to shifts along the course, password protect jobs or shifts to reserve them for charity partners, use the on-site check-in/out tool to track volunteer hours, and even send text messages to volunteers in real time, no matter where along the route they might be stationed.
Where do you see the industry heading? How does VolunteerLocal fit into this?
We’re seeing a lot of platforms moving towards simplicity and ease-of-use – and this is true for both the coordinators and the volunteers. Technology can be a powerful tool – and sometimes the best tech is the solution that gets out of the way.
To illustrate this point, VolunteerLocal was the first volunteer registration system to do away with the traditional technology “barrier to entry” that required volunteers to create a username and password combination before seeing the jobs and shifts. We flipped the concept of recruitment on its head (to great effect) by allowing the volunteers to self-schedule and register for the event in one single step. This led to increased transparency and accessibility of our customers’ volunteer signup page(s) online.
We’re also seeing an increase in the frequency and specificity of messages that are sent to volunteers throughout the recruitment process (and even after the race). Our customers are more commonly using the text messaging tool – especially as a means to quickly and efficiently contact all volunteers along the route in the case of an emergency.
There is an increased demand to leverage technology in a smarter way. Our customers want to understand who the volunteers are (specific demographics) and then use that information to strengthen their relationships with them. We just rolled out a new feature called “Rolling Birthday Notifications” which triggers a birthday greeting from the race or event organizer to each volunteer on his/her birthday.
This is just one example, of course, but it accurately showcases my point: event organizers want smarter, more actionable data, and VolunteerLocal is leading the charge in the world of volunteer management solutions.