Why not just use an online signup sheet?

Online signup sheets are really useful. There are numerous popular online signup sheet options available, so why shouldn’t your school just one of those for your volunteer program, instead of OnVolunteers?  What’s the difference?

Online signup sheet software allows you to invite people to easily sign up for things such as potlucks, neighborhood and school events, even big non-profit fundraisers. The idea is that you create an account and then create a signup ‘sheet’, a webpage. You then invite people, sending them invitations by entering their email addresses directly from within the tool itself. Your invitees receive an email with the invitation to go to the signup webpage, eezy peezy as they say. If you have an event in which you need to do that, then online signup sheets should definitely be on your list of tools to try.



OnVolunteers is very different from online signup sheets in that OnVolunteers is a volunteer ‘management system’, providing an extensive array of online tools, far greater than mere signups, that serve the unique, extensive volunteer program needs of Charter, Independent and Catholic schools.


Far more than online signups

Charter, Independent and Catholic schools have extensive volunteer programs, using volunteering as a primary way to build school community and to help with the many tasks and jobs at the school. To drive and maintain a high level of parent participation in the school community, these schools ask, if not require families to contribute a specific # of volunteer or service hours per year. Schools also associate a $ value to every volunteer hour, typically $10 to $30 for 1 volunteer hour. As an example, let’s say a school requires 40 hours, and each hour is worth $20. So the total value of the 40 hours for the year will be $800. So schools not only need to automate and track parent volunteer signups and hours, but also need to track the $ value of those volunteer hours. In addition, during the year, schools need to let families know how many hours they still have outstanding and the value of those volunteers, in case parents want to “pay out” the remaining hours. With online signup sheets, you’ll need to manually track the $ values of volunteer hours (again on Excel) as well as send email to individual families regarding the status of their hours. OnVolunteers, on the other hand, fully automates this tracking and process – the school office team and parent volunteer leaders do not have to do anything.

As part of a school’s tracking of annual volunteer hours requirement and associated $ values, the school needs to verify whether parents completed their volunteering contribution. Parent volunteer coordinators need to track which families and parents completed their volunteer jobs and which ones did not. Doing this manually on Microsoft Excel, which is what happens if you use online signup sheets, becomes highly time-consuming and almost always leads to ongoing confusion and chaos. OnVolunteers provides flexible tools to verify whether parents have completed their volunteer jobs. Schools can choose to have their volunteer coordinators verify parents’ volunteering or can use the fully automated verification process. And since all of the verification of volunteer jobs is within OnVolunteers, the recording of parent volunteer hours is fully automated and can easily be reported on. The manual, time-consuming Excel-based tracking that comes with using online signup sheets is completed eliminated!



With any school event requiring parent volunteers, an inherent part of organizing the event is communication.

OnVolunteers provides an internal messaging system, the same as Facebook, that allows the school office team and parent volunteer coordinators to communicate with parent volunteers. Conversely, parents can also communicate back to the school and volunteer coordinators. With online signup sheets, you’re left to use email, which results in countless endless email strings, where communication happens in silos. On the flip side, with OnVolunteers’ centralized messaging system, the school and volunteer leaders can optimize their communication to and from parents.


Layers of Security, for the Kids

Online signup sheets are almost always available to anyone with an Internet connection. That means school events and details, including parents’ names, are available for anyone to see. For example, information about your Walkathon, its route, all the volunteer jobs, the parents signed up to help, are available to anyone on the Internet. The same thing for things like school picnics and outings, all your information is available on the online signup sheet for anyone to see.

Online signup sheets also allow any parent to sign up for volunteer jobs involving unsupervised work with children. Most if not all school districts have very strict requirements for parents who do un-supervised work with children – that is, parents must undergo some sort of criminal background and record check. There is simply no way to control this with online signup sheets.

In both cases above, online signup sheets simply do not provide any security to protect kids.

OnVolunteers is unique. School office staff, parent volunteer leaders and families alike all have their own individual encrypted password-protected website. All volunteer information is protected, only your school community sees your volunteer program information. In addition, OnVolunteers is the only volunteer management system available that provides systematic tracking of parents who have undergone criminal records checks. So only parents who have undergone these checks are able to view and signup for un-supervised volunteer work with kids.


Comprehensive Volunteer Management system

Whilst online signup sheets are useful tools, they do only what the name implies, signups. These tools are great if that’s all you need. However, if your Charter, Independent and Catholic school has an extensive volunteer program, OnVolunteers provides a comprehensive volunteer management system made specifically to serve your unique needs.

Happy Volunteering!