Tracking volunteer hours

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by Catherder, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Catherder

    Catherder Member

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    With another fall upon us and the start of school, my little group is once again staring down the barrel of managing the parents of our kiddos. Some context - we require that all parents whose kids participate in one of our shows (acting, tech, whatever they want to do) do two things. First, join the PTA as a card-carrying, dues paying member (it costs $10 for the year). This allows us to operate in the school without being part of the school - we are a PTA club. Second, volunteer for something like 10-15 hours per show. We have many, many positions - costumes, set crew, Special Assistant to the Assistant Director (i.e. keep little Timmy and his raging ADHD under control backstage and make sure he hits his cue), props, and so forth.

    The problem we run into (stop me if you've heard this one before ;)) is that we have a small group of parents who kick butt, take initiative, are great and put in WAAAY over the minimum hours; a slightly bigger group who do what they are told when they are told and provide a solid, competent group of workers; and the majority who beg off, have conflicts, or come to each rehearsal to sit in the auditorium and watch.

    This is not a "how do I manage my volunteers" thread - that I can do. I would, though, appreciate any experience folks have with tracking volunteer hours. Some of the work is done at rehearsals, a lot of it (especially sets and props - my areas) happens during "off hours". Basically, I'm looking for a time sheet my volunteer parent crew can sign off on so that we, as leads, know that everyone is participating and have a solid tool to address the slackers with.

    Thanks.
     
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  2. TimMc

    TimMc Well-Known Member

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  3. Catherder

    Catherder Member

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    We do that, and it works out pretty well for the parents who help out with rehearsal management. It works less well for off site work, though. Like the parent who went to the lumberyard, picked up our load of materials, and delivered it to my house because I was stuck at work all day, or the lady who made all the hats for the flowers and brought them in for dress rehearsal.

    Or maybe I don't care, let the slackers slack, and as long as the kids are learning and the show happens without a (super gigantic) hitch. That just feels wrong and kind of offends me, though.
     
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  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Could probably set up a Google form and email a link out that people can submit their time/dates to and have that automatically dump the results into a spreadsheet for you.
     
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  5. Colin

    Colin Well-Known Member

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    Why not make a list of tasks (or sets of tasks where each set totals your minimum requirement) for them to choose from/be assigned to, and include a reasonable time estimate for a novice to complete each task. If you like, some tasks might involve more time but be easier, while others take a little less time but perhaps more commitment/effort/personal expense than others to balance out. Give someone their assignment and a deadline with plenty of lead time and reminders, and when they're done with that task or tasks you know roughly how many hours they committed, and that they've done a fair share. Sounds like you're just shooting for tracking and enforcing equity in their commitments and that ought to do it.

    Edit: This is a different angle than having a document to record their time in. My point is, if they're not being paid why do you need such precision and will you get it from a timesheet anyway in a diversely (dis)interested volunteer context? So instead dont worry about tracking by numbers and just portion the work out and have everyone pick a piece of the pie. Easier and more effective to me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  6. macsound

    macsound Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't look like you need a way to track time. If someone wanted to make a 1 hour task take 8 hours, they could bend whatever system you put in place.

    And what does that do for the folk who put in 100 hours instead of 10, make them feel minimized for being required to "clock in" because the "bad" parents need to have a leash?
     
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  7. Catherder

    Catherder Member

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    @MNicolai - that's the approach I would probably take in the ideal world, but half the parents claim they can't even open the rehearsal schedule, so the lower tech the better. Like where your head is at though

    @Colin - I like that.

    @macsound - good point.

    The other consideration for us is that if someone wants to step up and take on a bigger role in a future production, we are kicking the tires on the idea that they would need to have done X hours of volunteer time already during previous shows. Primarily to avoid the "I only want to be the assistant director, but this is my kids first play" phenomenon, or to have someone get in way over their head because they don't understand how much work ... it ... takes ... oh crap :p

    Seriously, though, I do like the "tasks with estimates" plan, at least for the areas I'm in charge of. For the rehearsal volunteers, signing in with the cast works. Costumes does their own thing anyway, so whatever. If we're flexible and don't get too caught up in the tracking I think we can make some combo of things work. We definitely don't want to punish or limit a kid's participation because their parent always has a bad back on load in days, but I also want to balance the load a bit better than we have in the past.
     
  8. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  9. IamQuestar

    IamQuestar Member

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    I have used Signup Genius dot com for similar needs. It's very usefull and easy to use. You set the needs/shifts, and have people sign up. You can run reports on what needs haven't been filled yet, as well as totals per-person.
     
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  10. Catherder

    Catherder Member

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    We use that for load-in/load-out crews and night of show shifts - might be worth giving it a shot for scheduling work night shifts, too. Thanks.
     
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  11. jonliles

    jonliles Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    2 words: BOOSTER CLUB. Make sure it has a strong Parent officer board who will drive the other parents to help the program succeed. Did the Chorus booster and then started the Drama dept booster for my children's school. A strong board builds the relationships with the other parents that drive program success. Set aside dedicated work Saturdays (yes, sorry, I know ugh a Saturday)You make it mandatory for the students to be there for a period of time (3 or so hours is about right). Often, you can convince a parent (or step parent like me) to stay and help. Play to the parents strengths. Some are handy. Some are good with an iron. some are good at guarding the door. Some are good as, well, seat fillers I beleive is the kindest term I can come up with.

    We were supported by the PTA, but had little involvement with or from them.The Booster Clubs really grew the strength of the programs.

    It also helps to have a parent recognition program during the last show of the run. Flowers, gift cards, it doesn't need to be big. It drives interest and helps to make the volunteers feel valued.

    Of course it helps when the Parent Booster hosts an adult party. That way it is a school sanctioned event, and if someone wants a beer, they can have a beer at this adult function.
     
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  12. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  13. jonliles

    jonliles Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Seat Fillers, no. Significant contributors had a “Special Thanks” section in the program as well a a recognition at the end of intermission on the last night of the run.

    EDIT: Stupid fat fingers on the iphone
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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  15. Catherder

    Catherder Member

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    Oh we’ve got this covered already ;). Cast party with the kids after each show and an additional “season wrap” event after the spring show for volunteers.

    I like the booster idea though. Makes sense for us to have a dedicated volunteer wrangler in our little leadership group.
     
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  16. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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