Automatically tracking volunteer time

Automated time tracking simplifies the process for volunteers, ensuring accurate records of total volunteer hours. If enabled, volunteers receive an email after each shift, notifying them that their time will be automatically tracked, so they don't have to. This process is applicable to both employee sign-ups and bulk imports. Automated tracked time is either automatically approved or queued for review based on your process. Approved volunteer time that is eligible for rewards, is credited accordingly.

Employees have a period of time, referred to as the tracking window, to change or cancel their shift if they don’t want their hours tracked. When the tracking window has passed, shifts are tracked with the volunteer time specified for the shift. Users who have tracked time through the volunteer opportunity will not receive additional time tracked through automation. 

Permissions

Users with the role manager or site settings manager roles can enable automated time tracking for your program. 

If enabled, any user who can create a volunteer opportunity can enable automated time tracking for their opportunity. 

Enabling automated time tracking for your program

You can choose to give volunteer opportunity creators the option to enable automated time tracking on their opportunities. If enabled, you can decide if the default for this option on the volunteer opportunity creation form is on or off. 

To enable or disable automated time tracking for your program:

  1. Log in to Spark and select Manage in the top-right corner.
  2. Go to Site Settings > Volunteering Settings.
  3. In the Automated time tracking section, choose between the following options: 
    • Off: automated time tracking is disabled for all opportunities in your program
    • Enabled – On by default for all new volunteer opportunities: automated time tracking is on by default when a volunteer opportunity is created, but the creator has the option to disable it.  
    • Enabled – Off by default for all new volunteer opportunities: automated time tracking is off by default when a volunteer opportunity is created, but the creator has the option to disable it.  

Tracking window

The Tracking window is the time after a shift ends that an employee has to edit or cancel their shift. The window starts when the shift ends and the duration is configured in the volunteer settings Tracking window for all opportunities.

When the window ends, it may take up to 12 hours for the volunteer's time to show on your site.

In the Tracking window section, choose the window in which a volunteer can edit or cancel their shift: 

  • 24 hours
  • 72 hours
  • 7 days
  • 14 days

Benevity recommends the 7-day window to give the volunteer enough time to make changes. If after 7 days no action is taken, their shift time will automatically track.

Additional time for signing up and automatically tracking time

To extend the period for administrators and employees to sign up for a volunteering opportunity, an extra 7 days are added to the tracking window. During this time, they can sign up themselves or others for a shift. As the shift has ended, sign-ups at this time are automatically time-tracked within the next hour.  

Enabling automated time tracking for an opportunity

If automated time tracking is enabled for your program, the option is available on the volunteer opportunity creation form. All shifts require dates, times and volunteer time for automated time tracking to work. 

Volunteers receive two email reminders about time tracking: one after they sign up for a shift, and one after the shift ends. Volunteers are informed of the tracking window, during which they can edit or cancel their shift if they did not attend. 

New opportunity

To turn on automated time tracking for a new opportunity:

  1. Open the Create a Volunteer Opportunity form.
  2. Go to the Shifts tab and turn on the Automatically track volunteer time toggle.
  3. Check that all shifts have start and end dates/times and volunteering time. 

Existing opportunity

To turn on automated time tracking for an existing opportunity:

  1. Open a volunteer opportunity. 
  2. Select Edit.
  3. Go to the Shifts tab and turn on the Automatically track volunteer time toggle.
  4. Check that all shifts have start and end dates/times and volunteering time. 

If automated time tracking is turned on for an existing opportunity, time is automatically tracked only if:

  • The shift end date has not passed.
  • The shift end date has passed, but the tracking window is still open.

Volunteer rewards 

When the tracking window has passed, shifts are tracked with the volunteer time specified for the shift. If the user and volunteer opportunity are eligible for volunteer rewards, they are granted when the tracked time is approved. Time submissions are either approved automatically or join the approval queue depending on your process. 

Processing time submissions  

Depending on platform usage, shift time tracking is processed in batches of 250-1000 sign-ups. Each batch runs at 10 minutes after the hour (ie. 1:10, 2:10, 3:10, etc) and they continue running until there are no more shifts to track.

Disabling automated time tracking 

To disable automated time tracking on an opportunity, you must disable the feature toggle on the Shifts tab. 

If you choose to disable the feature for your program, you must also disable the feature toggle on any opportunities where it is enabled to prevent automated time tracking. 

Examples

Volunteer settings: 

  • Automated time tracking: Enabled
  • Time tracking window: 72 hours
  • Volunteer opportunity: Automated time tracking enabled. Eligible for rewards. 
  • Shift: Serve dinner at the drop-in centre - 4 hour duration. 

Example 1

Employee experience: 

  1. Beth signs up for the shift before it starts and volunteers at the drop-in centre. 
  2. After her shift, the 72-hour tracking window begins and she does not track her time because she knows it will be tracked automatically.
  3. After 72 hours, her time is automatically tracked. Beth’s automated time tracking is added to the volunteer time queue for approval. 

Administrator experience

  1. The administrator approves the time and rewards are added to Beth’s Giving Account if she is eligible. 
  2. 5 days after the shift ends, the administrator signs up two employees for the shift because they were not able to. Their time is automatically tracked within the hour and added to the approval queue. 
  3. The administrator approves their time and rewards are added to their Giving Account if they are eligible. 

Example 2

  1. Bilal volunteers at an event they didn't sign up for.
  2. After their shift, they do not track their time in the 72-hour tracking window.
  3. 8 days after the tracking window ends, the event organizer signs Bilal up for the event.
  4. Bilal's time is not automatically tracked because the signup is added more than 7 days after the tracking window ended.
  5. Time is manually tracked by Bilal or an administrator on their behalf.
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