Next Level Volunteer Organizing Solutions

560487_410129935694162_322418226_aI was thrilled when Nazila Alasti, CEO and Founder of Jooners, contacted me this week and invited me to learn more about her online sign up solution. I wrote about two competing online sign up tools last year so I was eager to learn about Alasti’s approach for organizing a group of volunteers.

Like SignUpGenius and VolunteerSpot, Jooners provides an easy web-based service to manage the volunteer organizing process with e-reminders, social media tools and calendar integration. All three providers offer preloaded examples that you can re-use, or you can start from scratch and build your own custom forms. The templates are a huge time-saver.

Jooners has been around longer than VolunteerSpot (2009) and SignUpGenius (2008), and all three are pushing the online group organizing category forward. Founded in 2006, Jooners is “here to help you organize and coordinate people, events and experiences.” A small company started by a group of Stanford graduates, their motto is: Successful Organizers. Happy Participants. Flawless Experiences.

Unique Features

A killer-feature with Jooners is the recent integration of the popular SurveyMonkey. Here is an excerpt from the Jooner’s blog announcing the news:

With this wonderful integration, you can add a survey to a sign up sheet and gather data while you are signing up volunteers and participants.  Or, send a survey after an event to find out what people really thought…

The ability to integrate surveys is extremely helpful to organizations who value data to improve their volunteer and group event experiences. A short video will show you how easy it is to add surveys to your Jooner sign up sheets.

SignUpGenius offers the ability to send text-messages in addition to email, an important consideration as email open-rates continue to decline.

VolunteerSpot offers a clever digital notepad using their iPad app Clipboard by VolunteerSpot, making it possible to take sign ups on the “spot.”

I downloaded the Clipboard app but haven’t had a chance to use it in a group setting. If you have used it, please let me know what you think.

Business Models

All three products offer a free basic plan but their business models vary.

SignUpGenius relies on ad-revenue for those using the free service. They also offer no-ad services: Pro for $9.99/month with a free 14-day trial and three additional no-ad options ranging from $1.99 to $14.99 per sign up page.

VolunteerSpot’s free basic service is good for one activity organizer and allows you to collect contributions which at the surface is a neat idea because often times your best donors are volunteers. Be advised that there are two layers of service fees when collecting contributions with VolunteerSpot. VolunteerSpot also has ads, and there are at least four Premium plans ranging from $4.99/month up to $29.99/month depending on the number of participants.

Jooners free basic plan is ad-free and good for up to five sign up sheets. There is also an unlimited and more feature-rich Premium service available for $5.95/month ($49.95/year).

Conclusions

I look forward to following these three companies as they continue to refine and update their services, and although I am not ready to declare a favorite just yet, here are my favorite features:

  • The texting feature offered by SignUpGenius is relevant for today’s rapidly growing mobile market.
  • I love the idea of using the Clipboard iPad app to take live sign ups with VolunteerSpot.
  • The simplified ad-free business model of Jooners is appealing, and their integration with industry leader SurveyMonkey is nothing short of brilliant.

With a reported 26.8 percent of the adult population giving 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service, there is plenty of room for all three to succeed.

Which online volunteer organizing solution do you prefer and why?

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6 comments

  1. Thanks for reviewing and sharing VolunteerSpot, Nancy! Important for nonprofits is that VolunteerSpot also offers volunteer hours tracking and reporting, and handles ongoing volunteer scheduling needs elegantly with a simple calendar-interface.

    Thanks for your work supporting those who do good!

    Karen
    Founder & CEO, VolunteerSpot, DOING GOOD just got easier!

    1. Thanks Karen! As nonprofits look to report more data and results to stakeholders, being able to track and report on those volunteer hours is valuable–literally! The Independent Sector estimates the value of volunteer time for 2012 was $22.14 per hour.

  2. Hi Nancy,

    Thanks for reviewing SignUpGenius again, and including us in this article! We are glad that there are so many options for people to be able to organize their sign ups online, and that people can choose what works best for them. It may be helpful for non-profits to know that that SignUpGenius has hundreds of unique background themes (available for free) to give each sign up a personalized look. Of course, there is always the option for sign up creators to display their own image on our sign ups, too.

    It’s truly rewarding and humbling to see how SignUpGenius is able to assist others organize their world-changing missions. Thanks for sharing these online tools with others!

    Thanks,
    Kate @SignUpGenius

  3. Hi Nancy, I was wondering if you have any thoughts about how each of these apps target a particular kind of customer? For example, is there one better for a mothers club or PTA?

    1. Hi Ishen, All three offer broad appeal for various school, work and community groups so I recommend you give them each a closer look with your specific needs in mind. There may be certain features you prefer for your PTA or mothers club. You may be interested in reading these examples:

      http://www.signupgenius.com/school/pta-mom-saves-time-with-signupgenius.cfm
      http://blog.volunteerspot.com/volunteer_guru/volunteerspotlight/#axzz3FW1KExAj

      Please let me know how it goes!

      Best,

      Nancy

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