White Center Food Bank

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Feb 21, 2014 (3 years and 1 month ago)

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White Center

Food Bank

Database Project

Final Report


Date 10/2
7
/2010

Prepared by

Executive Service Corps of Washington


Consultant Edgar Haimerl

Consultant
Denise Morris Kipnis


Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the Hands On

Network
under the VIRE Grant. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are
those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a
position that is endorsed by, the Hands On Network.






2


Table of Contents

Background


Summary of Needs

................................
................................
....

3

Recommendation


What Options Were Considered

................................
............

4

Volgistics vs. Requirements

................................
................................
..........

5

Essential requirements

................................
................................
.............

5

Nice
-
to
-
have features

................................
................................
...............

6

Disadvantages

................................
................................
............................

8

Implementation Steps
-

How to Get the Recommended Solution Up and Running

...

8

Installation

................................
................................
................................
.

8

Customizations

................................
................................
...........................

8

Training
................................
................................
................................
......

9

Support/Resources

................................
................................
....................

10




3


Background


Summary of Needs

White Center
Food Bank

works with 150
-
200 volunteers per month and supplies
food for about 1
,
500 families (6
,
000
-
7
,
000

people
).

The goal of this project was to
determine the data requirements for volunteer

management within the food bank,
evaluate possible solutions
to meet those requirements, and recommend a viable
solution
.


The
consultant
s

met with

the
food bank
coordinator
to tour the location and
understand the different tasks executed by staff and vol
unteers.

The informati
on
collected in this interview wa
s presented
earlier
in a condensed and structured
R
equirements
D
ocument. These are the priorities for enhancing their existing IT
systems:

1.

A Volunteer database that

a.

Allows search for skills
and availab
ility of volunteers

b.

Reports volunteer hours

c.

Captures volunteer contact information,

and facilitates mailing lists

2.

Integrating Food Donation and Major Donor information.

3.

An automatic backup routine for all databases.


During the interview, t
he
consultants

observed
the
food bank’s
IT infrastructure.
The applications currently used are based on local file databases (
Access
) which are
shared by the three desktop computers in a local network. The main computer has
to be running all the time to allow file acces
s for the other machines. Automatic
backup routines are missing and should be installed at highest priority.


To build the knowledge base of the Database Collective, consultants working on the
four VIP database improvement projects researched and evaluated

four main
solutions:
SalesForce, Raiser’s Edge, Volgistics, and Giftworks. Demonstrations of

4


these software solutions were
p
resented
in September and October
.
As the
coordinator was unable to attend, the c
onsultants to the White Center
Food Bank
attended
the demos on her behalf and conducted special testing of
the databases
.

Recommendation


What Options Were Considered

The consultants

recommend
the use of
Volgistic
s

to manage and search volunteer
skills and to track volunteer hours. The main reasons are:

1.

Volgistic
s

best matches
the
food bank’s data
requirements
.

As no
customizations are needed this is a huge cost advantage.

2.

Volgistic
s

can be used without expenses for installation, software update
s
,
and backup.

3.

Volgistic
s

can be accessed from outside the f
ood banks office via
the
I
nternet.

4.

Volgistics is relatively inexpensive to purchase: the s
tarting cost is $9 per
month (50 active volunteers, 50 archived volunteers, 2 users; get other rates
at
http://www.
volgistics.com/Cost.htm
)

5.

There are no

hardware requirements
to use Volgistics


only a browser and
an I
nternet connection are needed. Old
er

computers can be used
, and n
o
local storage
is
required.

Volgistics also has an export feature
: users can

export al
l data or a defined subset
to
Excel
, including
tables

and skills
.


SalesForce shares
several

advantages with Volgistic
s
.
However, Salesforce is not
tailored for volunteer management and reporting and needs significant
customizations to meet White Center’s
requirements. Rather, Salesforce is a system
designed for managing relationships and activities of multiple “customer” groups.
Salesforce is best for organizations with multiple users and analysts seeking
an all
-
in
-
one
-
solution (
managing
volunteers, donors
, and customers in one application)
and
those with a

budget for customizations by software consultants

(it is estimated

5


that 25 hours of consulting time will be needed initially to meet the food bank’s
requirements for volunteer management)
.
The coordinato
r indicated that none of
these conditions are true for the food bank
.


GiftWorks
manages both volunteer and donor data. It is a desktop application,
a
local file database

unlike Salesforce and
Volgistics, which

are Web applications
hosted in the cloud. Gif
tWorks

stores data in
an

A
ccess

file format (GiftWorks files
can be opened w
ithout limitations in A
ccess
).
As such
,

Giftworks shares the
problem of the database solutions currently u
sed at White Center Food Bank: i
t can
only be accessed through local file
share,
and
requires

a
backup strategy
and
software updates.

On the plus side, Giftworks will function similarly to the food
bank’s current Access databases but with a better user interface.


Rai
se
r

s Edge

was ruled out early on because of its high cost
,
un
necessary levels of
complexity
, and need for extensive IT support
: it is intended to
be
implemented
across multiple business units.

Volgistics
vs.

Requirements

Essential requirements

This
table compares White Center Food Bank’s

requirements
with Volgistics

features:

Requirement

Volgistics

Volunteer application:

Search volunteers by Skills

-

define skills

-

select multiple

skills

-

list volunteers with matching
skills

Combination of multiple skills is supported;
Skills are defined in Setup


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6


Volunteer application:

Search Volunteers by
Certification

Define flags in Setup


Field Options


core tab;
define sets based on selection by flag.

Volunteer application:

Search Volunteers by
Availability

Very comfortable: assign volunteers to tasks
(=assignment), schedule and print weekly
schedule


all in one step!

Volunteer appli
cation:

Search volunteers by position

Positions are called “assignments”.

Volunteer application:

Additional information about
volunteers

Has customizable fields; has field level access
management settings for 3 groups

Volunteer tracking:

match current t
racking sheet

By scheduling a volunteer
,

the times are
assigned to the volunteer. Reports are based on
the scheduling, not on actual hours.

Volunteer tracking:

reporting

Very good and flexible reporting features. Much
more than required for the start but
useful!

Donor database:

Not included


although
volunteers can be
flag
g
ed as donors

Nice
-
to
-
have features

Further requirements that are useful to have:

Features

Volgistics

Events/Programs participation
(volunteer count by event,
recurring events/history
, skills
needed)

Can send e
-
mails and notifications to defined
sets of volunteers, e.g. all volunteers with min
30 hours.

Volunteer affiliation
(employer/matching gift, civic
organization, volunteer group)

Not directly


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7


User permissions

Three

groups


that should be

enough for White
Center

Food Bank

Reports (built
-
in, custom; does
it meet specific client needs)

Very good

and customizable

User/license restrictions
(numb
er, location)

Depends on monthly fee, start with 2 users.
Using one account from different browsers is not
possible

Integration with other software

Not required or possible


runs in a browser

Export/import

Very good Excel export function.

Import of dat
a is possible through a free import
pro
gram
http://www.volgistics.com/import.htm
)

Duplicate handling

Not found

Learning curve

Takes a few hours to figure it out yourself, use
the online help pages

and
videos
. Needs 1
-
2
hours training for not computer skilled volunteer.

Training/resources available

Very good online video gets you started

Costs

Min $9/month for 2 users and 50 active
volunteers

Calculate cost
at
http://www.volgistics.com/Cost.hrm

Privacy or security
features/concerns

Field level access management is good but not
too complicated

Customization options (for
special field requests, etc.)

Given


should not be needed in the beginning

Syste
m
requirements/compatibility

Only browser

and internet connection

is needed


for
computers as old as seven years


8


General ease
-
of
-
use
observations

Not to
o

overloaded. You need to get used to the
terminology and learn how to define and use
sets.

Special f
eatures

1) Set up a Web page for online volunteer
application

2)
Tickler: check list items or awards due.

3)
Post and email

Disadvantages

1.

The data are stored in the cloud
,

not

in house.


Data should be exported
regularly

to a local Excel file. This makes

White Center

independent from
Volgistics

for worst case scenarios (e..g. extreme price rise forces to move
away from Volgistics and import data into the new system)
.

2.

Needs a permanent and stable I
nternet connection; working offline is not
possible.

3.

Extens
ion of this application, e.g. integration of Donor database,
is
not
possible.

Implementation Steps
-

How to Get the Recommended Solution Up and
Running

Installation

No server installation needed. Directly connect to
http://
www.Volgistics.com

and
log in. Clients need an I
nternet browser
.
Memory used by the browser is
about

100
M
B

usually true of c
omputer
s

less than seven years old
.

Customizations



Set up the skills in Setup


field options


profile tab



Set up flags
in
Setup


Field Options


core tab
,

e.g. Languag
es and driver
license are flags


9




D
efine basic sets like all Volunteers “with Gardener skills”, “with drivers
License”, “Spanish” and combi
nes skills/flags, e.g. “Spanish
-
speaking driver”



C
ustomize reports


a
lthough the

defaults
are good enough to get started.

Training

Training should be done by an experienced Volgistics user.
It is possible for
someone

with good computer ski
lls (user level, not developer)

either the
coordinator or a skilled volunteer

c
an
ramp

up on how
Volgistics
works
in
under
five hours. This same lead user could conduct training for other users.


The
training
c
ould be split
into sections and
tailored for
different skill levels:



Enter volunteer applications (name, address, skills, availabil
ity)



30 Minutes

-

for
White Center Food Bank staff und working
volunteers

-

check out the online video



Define assignments (make sure to check the “Use volunteer and assignment
matching” Ceckbox on Setup


Assignment tracking
-

Volunteer &
assignment)



30 Minutes

-


for coordinator and staff

-

use online video



Schedule volunteers
, define sets and search volunteers by skills and
availability




1 hour

-


for coordinator and staff



B
asic reporting features



1 hour

-

for coordinator and executive direct
or


10


Impact on C
urrent Workflows and Processes

Installing
new

software applications often imp
lies changes in an organization.

At a
minimum s
oftware should meet the
core requirements of the organiz
ation
,

but
details of the software implementation
will a
ffect
and c
hange workflows and
processes
; things can
usually
be done different
ly, if not

faster
,

with the new tool.
We see
that
Volgistics
can
have an impact or change these current proc
esses at
White Center Food Bank
:


Tracking volunteer hours

In Volgistics vol
unteers are assigned to tasks
,

which generates a weekly schedule.
The reports, e.g. volunteer hours
,

are based on this schedule rather than on a
manual sign in sheet. We recommend that
White Center Food Bank consider

adopting this workflow instead of the c
urrent manual

schedule on a white
board and
than later entering volunteer h
ours manually based on the sign
-
in sheet.

V
olunteer assignment
s

& recognition

The
concept of sets
in
Volgistics
is very powerful

but needs time to be useful in an
organisation. Ove
r time useful set definitions have to be elaborated. This can
greatly improve the selection of volunteers not just by skill and certification but also
by
reliability
,

etc. Feedback and volunteer recognition should also be based on these
set definitions.

E
n
ter
ing

volunteer d
ata

I
n the long
-
term
,

Volgistics can be set up with an internet Web page (extra cost)
where intere
s
ted volunteers can enter their skills and availability. This is a huge
time saver for the organisation as no skilled staff is needed to ent
er

the applications
on paper into the system.

Support/Resources



Volgistics has two online videos to get you started; check out the Volgistics
Tour.


11




Open a test account and play around; see Volgistics


Free Trial



Please note that the consultants were not
able to explore the o
nline
questions