What If My Volunteers Can’t Use Technology?

Recently there has been many conversations about volunteers’ digital skills or the lack there off.  Charities worry about their volunteers and employees adopting digital services if introduced. 

According to the Charities Digital Skills report, 82% of charities see digital as more of a priority as a result of the pandemic. This is great news, the first step to progress is recognising the need. 

 However, I do think that charities underestimate themselves and their volunteers, their fear of technology is almost paralysing. Perhaps this is explained in the complex legacy systems many charities are stuck with, where you need a degree in that software to figure out how to do the simplest tasks. 

What charities don’t realise is that current technologies are more intuitive and user-friendly. I always tell our potential clients that, if they can order food on an app/online they’ll be able to use vHelp to manage expenses.  

What about volunteers that can’t use technology? 

We often hear this question when pitching vHelp. The reality is most volunteers are happy using technology especially if it benefits them, ie saves them time or gets their expenses paid quickly. 

In our experience, we found there are less than 5% of volunteers who can’t use technology and as a result don’t claim expenses through vHelp. We reacted to this and provisioned for volunteer managers to be able to make expense claims on behalf of those volunteers. 

You may argue that this depends on the demographic of your volunteers, ie if you have mainly retired volunteers then this figure may get higher. We don’t think so, you’d be surprised by today’s retirees - one of our volunteers, who was recently mentioned in our Bradford case study,  is over 70 and was showing the younger volunteers how to claim an expense with vHelp.  

There will always be a small percentage of people who can’t adopt technology, this shouldn’t hold back the charity from adopting new technologies.  The charity can either ask their suppliers to provide workarounds for those users or keep some manual processes in place for those users to ensure they’re included.  

Who enjoys setting up a new digital service? 

Let’s face it, no one likes registering for a new digital service, even digital natives like us dread the setting up of a new service/system. I hate it when the school sends me a new maths homework system and have to get my daughter set up on it. 

I was chatting to one of our Felix Project Volunteers representatives recently and she was telling me how the volunteers were slightly nervous about using vHelp to claim their expenses at the start, but once they started, they realised it’s very easy and were very happy to have their expenses reimbursed within 48 hours of the approved claim. 

If volunteers see benefits in a service and are provided with the right level of support to use technology, they will use it.

Charities must adopt the technologies needed to operate efficiently, just make sure the service you are signing up for provides good support and are kind to your volunteers when they are stuck. 

 Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

vHelp - a simple digital solution to reimburse volunteer expenses quickly and securely.

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