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Volunteer paper trail ends with Dibs

By David Urbaniak, Brian Ingle, and Loren Nelson, 12/02/14, 2:00PM CST


Osseo-Maple Grove Hockey's Dana Johnson is expert at managing volunteers with online tool 

Dana Johnson has been a volunteer coordinator for so long she remembers the days when assignments and hours were tracked on paper.

On paper!

Johnson’s work with the Osseo-Maple Grove Hockey Association doesn’t go as far back as pre-Internet, but her eight-year run does pre-date the ability to electronically manage the association’s some 400 player family volunteers and about 10,000 work-hours it needs to fill annually.

“They would give a spreadsheet to the team managers,” Johnson said. “And they actually used to give volunteer assignments to people on paper.”

Back then, there wasn’t much flexibility in who got what assignments. Or when they had to work. That’s no longer the case, said Johnson, an expert on using Sport Ngin’s Dibs volunteer tracking system.

“The thing about Dibs is, from the volunteer perspective, it is a lot easier process because they are able to select an opportunity they, one, have some interest in and, two, they can set up at their own time schedule versus just being assigned a certain week or whatever,” Johnson said.

Dana Johnson

Johnson said she uses Dibs to help budget for the number of volunteer hours she expects the association will need to fill each season. She creates separate categories – concessions, tryouts, tournaments – then estimates the hours for each.

Tournaments alone require a legion of volunteers. Someone has to sell the popcorn, keep score, tell the officials where to go, work the merchandise table, hang the signs, clean the bathrooms, greet the teams, tear the tickets -- and on and on and on.

Volunteer coordinators must find people to fill these jobs, then make sure they show up. Not easy. Organizations such as Maple Grove-Osseo Youth Hockey that make either a parent pay a buy-out or at least volunteer a little are really on top of the game.

Johnson works with the association’s registrar to build questions in the registration session to determine how many hours each family will have to work.  It’s common for families with two or more players to be required to work more hours than families with just one player.

“This is where it gets really tricky,” said Johnson, who has two hockey-playing boys. “Because the key thing is the registrar has to set up their registration form with questions that allow you to key off those questions so that you can put the family in the correct Dibs session.

“I talked to several other volunteer coordinators across the metro area. And they were actually not able to partner with their registrars. So they were manually trying to calculate the hours that people had worked after they had worked them.”

Through the years, Johnson has helped identify potential enhancements to the Dibs system. She said an automated email reminder that goes out to volunteers the day before their assignment has dramatically reduced the number of no-shows.

“Every year they make enhancements,” said Johnson, who was of the first Dibs users as part of its pilot program. “We’ve had some good luck with (making suggestions for improvements). But I realize, of course, what’s important to me isn’t going to be important to someone else."

Osseo-Maple Grove Hockey's Dibs landing page (click to view)

How Dibs works:

Administrators will have the ability to create sessions for volunteer hours, then add items (manually or import from Excel) to be claimed by members. Coordinators can grant “completion” to members once they have finished an item, track each member’s progress and send out email blasts directly from the module.

Users will be able to see all items/hours available and “claim” an item. They will receive an email reminder the day before their scheduled event. Users will also have the ability to log into the site and view their personal Dibs account (sessions they are a part of, items they have claimed, credits they have received).

The Dibs module provides a way to track credits per user. Users are attached to Dib Sessions based on an Online Registration.

Within the organization, an online registration needs to be created to collect family information for volunteer requirements.  These requirements can be built into a season registration or added to a new registration session built specifically for volunteers.

7 Easy Steps to Make Dibs Happen:

Step 1

Create Dibs categories in which to place items.

Step 2

Volunteer coordinator creates a new Dibs session where various volunteer jobs are created for volunteers to complete.

Step 3

Volunteer coordinator either imports or manually enters a Dibs item including the various volunteer duties that need to be completed.

Step 4

Volunteer coordinator attaches a Smart Group to the Dibs session so only those involved with the program will see the volunteer shifts or open Dibs for all members to claim the items.

Step 5

Volunteers will view that they have been assigned a Dibs item (volunteer shift) or that they can claim a Dibs item (volunteer shift).

Step 6

Volunteer works the volunteer shift!

Step 7

Volunteer coordinator gives credit when the volunteer shift is completed or volunteer can request to be given credit for completed shift.


Dibs webinar

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About Loren Nelson

Loren Nelson is Community Manager at SportsEngine. He is also the National Media Editor and has served in a variety of other customer facing and media roles since 2009.

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