Case Study

Brian Steeves

The Lennox Club

Location: Manitoba, Canada



Jobs Scheduled

  • Managers
  • Computer operators
  • Number callers
  • Staff
  • Canteen workers

Tracy: What is the Lennox Club?

Brian: The Lennox Club is a fund-raising organization that runs bingos.

Tracy: How was scheduling done prior to VSP?

Brian: It was all manually done. We'd have a huge poster sized sign-up sheets. We would assign schedules six months at a time, so we'd lay out all of these kinds of grids with dates and all the positions in a graph format. People would write their names in and then a volunteer would come along and scoop up all of those sheets once they'd been completed and enter that into a spreadsheet. It was extremely cumbersome and prone to errors. Wow -- the mistakes that happened! People would forget what dates they signed up for or they wouldn't write them down. There weren't [any] reminders that would go out, so essentially [people would] sign up and then miss their bingo or claim that they forgot or didn't get a reminder.

Tracy: Why did you seek out a scheduling program? What was your biggest challenge when it came to scheduling?

Brian: We had one individual who was responsible for managing the whole schedule in terms of who's working when and finding replacements. We knew that something was going to break very soon. The turnover rate for the bingo scheduler position was every year. [The scheduler] would start and immediately get burned out with the amount of work they would have to do to manage up to 100 families and their multiple shifts. So we're, you know, in the technological age and said, 'Jeez we should be doing this online. There should be an easier way to do this.' We found other options as well, but none of them seemed quite as together or as easily packaged as VSP.

Tracy: How are you using VSP to schedule volunteers?

Brian: They sign up online on their own. We gave them the link and told them, "You sign in. You create your account, and pick your bingos." It's all done by the volunteers. They sign up on their own and they pick their own, so the schedule is always live and adaptable.

Tracy: Do you use VSP reporting features on how many hours a volunteer has worked? If so, for what purpose?

Brian: We're interested in making sure each family has worked the minimum that they're supposed to work in a given period - not so much hours, but shifts to make it fair for everybody. You can either volunteer or pay a surcharge to not work. I export the schedule and divide the number of hours by four and that's how many shifts they've worked. It's automated at this point.

Tracy: How did scheduling change once you started using VSP?

Brian: It changed in that the volunteers suddenly had a lot more control over their own schedule and they were more accountable all of a sudden. We've had three bingos so far and there haven't been any no shows. Nobody's complained that the system was difficult to use or that they had trouble signing up, which I like. I'm very impressed at how they sign up, pick their bingos, get confirmation that, 'Yep these are the four [I signed up for].' Then they get an email reminder beforehand, which is something we never did. They really like that. Unfortunately, in our situation the bingo is not always seen as a really fun thing to volunteer for. They go, "Ugh! I gotta sign up for my four [shifts]." But they've received [VSP] very well actually.

Tracy: What would you say are the three greatest benefits of using VSP?

Brian: Oh, wow! Only three? The benefits are that it's entirely user-managed. The schedulers can [customize the set up] and volunteers manage their own schedule – very self-service oriented. It's beautiful to set up. The learning curve is not difficult, which I love. I'm not good with learning curves. The management side of it from my scheduler point of view is so easy compared to the old system we had, I can't even... There's no comparison to the old way of doing it. VSP makes the scheduler's job super easy. The way I've got it set up now is all the web forms process automatically – nothing has to be approved by me. It's super!

Tracy: How much time did it take you to set up VSP?

Brian: Initially, I probably spent six or eight hours but it took [that long] only because I wanted to make sure that it was perfect and I kept realizing new things that I could do that would make it better.

Tracy: Do the changes the volunteers make online automatically take effect or do you monitor those changes?

Brian: They automatically take effect. The reason for that is that a lot of volunteers, that I've worked with anyways, are incredibly impatient. If it happens online, it should be immediate. What happens is they sign up, they register their account and if they have to wait for me to approve it they'll register again. I'll get 15 forms that say registration. When I set that to auto process, things happened quickly. Another thing I would suggest to new schedulers is the automatic processing [of web forms].

Tracy: How were substitutes found prior to VSP? How has the ability to find subs online affected attendance and volunteers willingness to commit to serving?

Brian: Lots and lots of phone calls and lots of email. But because they were emails from a scheduler that was often in panic mode by the time the scheduler realized that there was a shortage of volunteers, it was nearly too late. Like I said, lots of phone calls, last minute emails that never get responded [to] because they're literally last minute. Well, based on what I've seen so far, it's going to help us out tremendously because the emails, the sub requests... they come in earlier. And there are a few families who are interested in picking up an extra bingo. They're watching for those. Because they're coming in early, you have notice. You've got a bit of warning and you can plan ahead. I love it... love it!

Tracy: How do you use the VSP Emailer and what has been your volunteers' reaction?

Brian: It's fun because you can send [personal emails] to specific jobs and specific groups or shifts or whatever. We were short of callers and managers, so I sent out an email saying that we're desperately short for these particular positions, can you please help us out and here's a list of shifts. And boom! It was automatic. I've had lots of really good feedback.

Tracy: What type of information do you post to the Web Terminal?

Brian: In the Web Terminal, on the main page, we post things that the Lennox Club has achieved in the last little while, like how much money we've raised so the volunteers can see that they're actually having an effect on the school community… that their work is of benefit in the community. On the main page, I also post a list of swap requests and unfilled positions so that they can log in and that's the first thing they see. Boom!

Tracy: How, if at all, has VSP helped in making volunteering easier at the Lennox Club?

Brian: It has made it easier by making the scheduling a lot more proactive. That's probably the largest single effect that VSP's had on our organization.

Tracy: How has VSP changed being a volunteer at the Lennox Club?

Brian: It's easier because when you sign up, you pick your bingos and get immediate confirmation that it's yours and yours only... which is fantastic. The Web Terminal and Emailer [have also] made some jobs more visible which I really like. For example, we have a position called bingo worker, which is kind of the floor seller. We also have caller, manager and computer operator, which are critical positions for every bingo and in every email that we send out we say that if you're interested in training for these particular jobs --which are kind of extra credit jobs -- please contact me. We can reach a whole lot more people that way. We're recruiting for those jobs and we have had a good response already for that, so that's working.

Tracy: What tips would you give to new users just starting to set up VSP?

Brian: Read everything (chuckle). There's documentation. It's good to read all that stuff. I didn't when I started and probably made a few mistakes in doing that. I would suggest just reading the documentation.