Golden Volunteer Management vs Volunteers for Salesforce
Golden Volunteer Management vs Volunteers for Salesforce

Golden Volunteer Management vs Volunteers for Salesforce

12/17/2021 by Zaris Mota
A volunteer management for Salesforce app comparison.

While many Christmas stories begin with the image of Santa hopping into his giant sled, loaded up with gifts for children all over the world, we would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to thank the Elves for their essential role in making the mission of Christmas toys for every child a reality. 

Santa, alone, likely could not create all the toys. He presumably would have struggled to load the millions of gifts onto the sled by himself. He may have needed some help checking the lists and sorting through the requests. All of these Christmas business functions are probably made a lot easier with the help of mission-driven, passionate, and altruistic elves. 

Similarly, volunteers are assets to any nonprofit organization’s support team.

Volunteers are most helpful when there is a well-defined system in place to manage them. The system can take the stress out of finding qualified volunteers, making sure that their skills align with the organization’s needs, coordinating schedules, and communicating with volunteers. 

While all of these functions can be handled manually in spreadsheets and inboxes, having a volunteer management system that meets all of your organization’s needs and integrates with Salesforce, makes volunteer management less of a time-consuming task which will help your organization feel more comfortable expanding your volunteer base, and grant you more time to spend on your mission. 

In this post, we will compare Salesforce’s Volunteers for Salesforce app with one of its leading competitors, Golden Volunteer Management, so that you can choose the most appropriate solution for your organization’s needs.

Volunteers for Salesforce Overview

Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S) is a native to Salesforce application that is very robust considering its free price tag. With V4S, you can:

  • Create multiple volunteer jobs and define the skills required for each job
    • Configure jobs as public to have them listed on the web or private if you would like them to be by invitation only
  • Create as many shifts as necessary for each job and set the desired number of volunteers for each job
  • Use Salesforce’s Find Volunteers user interface to search your database for volunteers who meet the volunteer jobs requirements around skills or availability and mass invite them to sign up for the job
  • Create a public Salesforce site with all of your organization’s public volunteer jobs
    • Provide volunteers with a link to sign up for a specific volunteer shift 
  • Have Volunteer’s contact information sync with ​​Salesforce, creating a new contact and account when they aren’t found via the matching criteria
  • Send automatic thank you’s, reminders, and sign up notification emails
  • Mass log volunteer hours in Salesforce
    • Option to configure a custom Report Hours page to allow volunteers to self-report hours using a web developer 
  • Optionally configure a Salesforce Personal Site which allows volunteers to update their contact information and availability and see their volunteer history and upcoming shifts

Volunteers for Salesforce Limitations

The limitations of V4S are not necessarily disqualifying. The biggest limitation, in my opinion, is that you will use the same volunteer signup page for all of the jobs available. 

While you can add fields to the signup form by updating the fieldset, the fields will be visible on all jobs so you won’t be able to ask something specifically related to a single job. For example, if you were hosting a tree planting event, and you wanted to ask volunteers what sized gloves they would need, you would create a field called Glove Size, add it to the signup fieldset, and then all your volunteers would have the option of submitting their glove size regardless of if they were planting trees or reading to kids. 

To get around this, Salesforce does allow you to redirect volunteers to an external sign-up page, however, the details from those sign-ups would not be captured in Salesforce and you would have to manually import those responses from the external site to Salesforce.

V4S also does not have a way for users to easily self-report their hours, however, there is a user interface in Salesforce that allows staff to see all of the volunteers who have signed up for the shift and quickly log their attendance. This isn’t too tedious of a task but depending on the level of accuracy with which you would like to track hours, this could mean that a staff member needs to be available to check volunteers in and record the time they left. Salesforce does include the instructions to configure a Report Hours page to share with volunteers if you have someone on staff who is comfortable with web development.

Another important limitation of V4S is that it does not come with premium support from Salesforce. For the most part, if you have a question or are experiencing an issue you will be referred to the Power of Us Hub now called the Trailblazer Community. Occasionally, if no one in the forum can answer your questions, the case can be escalated to Salesforce support but if you do not have a tech-savvy person behind your V4S implementation it can be a bit of a challenge to get everything up and running.  

Finally, V4S requires some knowledge of CSS/HTML or a web developer to help you brand your public-facing web pages otherwise they are plain, white, left-aligned pages with field names exposed. You will also need a web developer to embed the Salesforce pages into your existing website.

Overall Opinion of V4S

All in all, I think V4S is a solid solution for volunteer management. It works well if you only need to capture general information about your volunteers, work with relatively small groups of volunteers at a time, and feel that branding is not a priority for your organization or if you have a web developer on staff. However if you have more complicated use cases, or if volunteers are a significant part of your organization’s business model, allow me to introduce you to Golden Volunteer Management.

Golden Volunteer Management Overview

Golden has all of the same core features as V4S and then some for $100 a month. You can:

  • Create multiple volunteer opportunities (not necessarily with skills defined)
    • Configure jobs as Public so that anyone on the web can sign up; Private-Open so you can invite specific partners to the opportunity and they can share the opportunity with others via the Opportunity link; or, Private-Closed so that only the partners you invite have access to sign up**
  • Create as many shifts as necessary for each opportunity and set the desired number of volunteers for each job
  • Include any necessary waivers or required documents (including background checks) on the signup page*
  • Segment volunteers in your database and invite the different groups to opportunities
  • Embed a list of active opportunities with links to sign up on your webpage
    • Provide volunteers with a link to sign up for a specific volunteer shift 
  • Have a volunteer’s contact information sync with ​​Salesforce, creating a new contact and account when the volunteer isn’t found via the matching criteria
    • Their contact information can be updated when they sign up for a new opportunity or if they update their Golden Volunteer Profile
  • Send automatic thank you’s, reminders, and sign up notification emails
  • Have volunteers self report their hours via the digital check-in/check-out kiosk*
  • Collect post-completion feedback from volunteers*
    • Configure “Footprints” which allow volunteers to report on their material impact such as # of trees planted or toys distributed
  • Advanced Insights Dashboard with key metrics**
  • Priority email support and an integration partner*

* Feature not included in V4S. ** Feature is more robust in Golden

Comparing Golden’s Limitations to Volunteers for Salesforce’s

Golden is a very highly-rated turnkey solution with excellent product support. The limitations that we saw with V4S, for the most part, do not come up with Golden. We can ask custom text area questions with each opportunity, and Golden is willing to custom build a module for companies that would allow them to add questions of other data types as well. 

Volunteers can not only report their hours via the check-in/check-out digital kiosk but also submit their feedback following the event and report on their impact. The volunteer manager can also rate the volunteers performance and submit private reflections. 

As expected, because this is a paid product, the user can rely on Golden’s quality customer service and even receive support while setting up the integration with ​Salesforce. The only limitation that isn’t completely addressed in Golden is custom branding. While you can embed the Golden widgets in your website with relative ease, you will need to purchase a higher-level plan to fully customize the look of the app. However, Golden has a much cleaner and more modern user interface than V4S so you may not be as upset by its out-of-the-box look.

Golden also includes an advanced insights dashboard which includes many key metrics related to volunteer management such as the number of participants, hours served, and metrics related to the “Footprints” if you set those up. It also makes it easier to manage volunteer requirements such as waivers or background checks by allowing you to include waivers as PDFs on the signup page. 

Golden is also committed to preventing no-show volunteers; you can implement a three-strike policy that automatically prevents volunteers from registering for events for six months if they have no-showed 3 times, which can take the headache out of manually updating volunteer statuses.

Overall Opinion of Golden Volunteer Management 

In short, if volunteerism is the thing that makes your organization run, Golden is the more robust and customizable option for a fair price. It features a very intuitive out-of-the-box design that will allow you some flexibility in asking custom questions and branding your opportunity pages. Finally, Golden’s check-in/check-out digital kiosk is unbeatable and makes logging hours and collecting feedback easier than ever before.

Let me know which volunteer management app you’re using by leaving a comment on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community or messaging me directly on Twitter @ZMTheArkusPM.