The Salvation Army North Toronto
Case Study
Rick Zelinsky, The Salvation Army North Toronto
Location:North Toronto, ON
Number of Volunteers:100
Samantha: What is the volunteer scheduling situation like at the Salvation Army?
Rick: I'm a Salvation Army officer here in North Toronto, and every Christmas we organize a fundraising campaign for our Christmas assistance. At our location, we have 100 volunteers that we need to organize for six locations for five time-slots each day.
Samantha: How was the scheduling done prior to using VSP?
Rick: Hard-copy Excel spreadsheets; we would call people, and schedule them in, and then update our main spreadsheet and post it. If there were changes, we physically scratched it out and wrote in the new name. But as soon as you start doing that, and touching the different hard-copy volunteer lists, the chance of missing information or misscheduling rears its ugly head. It was just a logistical nightmare... finally I said, "This is crazy!" I went looking for an easier way and that's how I found you.
Samantha: What made VSP stand out from other programs you looked at?
Rick: I had looked at about 4 different programs, including the program that the Salvation Army uses in the US and London (Ontario). The key feature for us was that... volunteers get to choose their shifts based on the calendar dates. [With VSP], they just go, "I'm available on Thursday," click on Thursday, see all the locations and shifts available and they pick and choose based on that... The program they use in London costs them $1200. It costs us 60 bucks. And I went "Okay, this isn't even a decision I need to make."
Samantha: Have you gotten any volunteer feedback on the new system?
Rick: They enjoy the easy access. Previously, they would have to call someone [and] go back and forth. It was like trying to book a doctor's appointment. With VSP, [volunteers] quickly look at the calendar, see what dates are open, and choose... Everyone likes the ease of it, and the usability, and the fact that they could do it online. They have control over their volunteer experience - versus having to rely on somebody else. I honestly can't sing your praises enough - it's that good and then some!
Samantha: Do you use the automatic email or SMS reminders?
Rick: Yes - before, we had to phone everybody to remind them about their shift. But with VSP, we enabled the text messaging reminders, as well as the emails. And so we had very few holes in our schedule this year.
Samantha: From a scheduler's perspective, what was most useful about VSP?
Rick: The reports are phenomenal. We use them to report on the hours that people volunteer. All of the features that were built in were just outstanding for our purposes... Using VSP allows us to more effectively and efficiently organize our volunteers and allows them to schedule themselves seamlessly. Without going through any of your documents or doing the tutorials, I learned it and scheduled the entire Christmas season, seven weeks of volunteering. It provided a higher level of usability for us than we had originally thought. And the other piece was price point. It was just so affordable for our organization. We're a small outfit here at the local level, and anyone could afford this.
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