When I first began working as a volunteer for Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, I began to realize what a challenge it is to recruit and schedule volunteers. Lots of people are giving, generous people, and they want to help. In my opinion, being an effective manager of volunteers and utilizing those free resources is much harder than most might imagine.
In my experience, effectively using human resources requires effective time management and organizational skills. One of the finest tools I ever discovered to help me be an effective manager and organizer is the free web calendar by Brown Bear Software.
Completely free, with an option to pay a low annual fee to remove ads (highly desirable and well worth it), Brown Bear calendars are incredibly versatile, both from a design perspective and in functionality. There is a significant learning curve to fully utilize the customizations, but for those with some experience in similar environments, technical skills, and/or willing to put in the time, these calendars can be powerful tools for any organization that is trying to communicate to large and diverse external audiences and organize things - be they staffing schedules, meetings, physical spaces and appointments, and more.
The best way I can communicate how you might use a Brown Bear calendar in your business or organization is to see a few examples. These show how Catchy Creations LLC has incorporated them into various projects:
Signup and scheduling staff to fill organizational needs
To be clear, my association with Black Pine ended when I resigned my position as Executive Director in 2018. I am proud, however, to see that the system established over a decade before I left is still being used in 2021. In this example, I used branding design elements and color-coded categories to help users (leadership, paid staff, and volunteers) communicate needs and fill them. The sanctuary has opted not to pay the annual fee that removes ads.
Sharing upcoming community center activities & events
This facility calendar is a companion to the Augusta Hills Learning, Recreation, and Community Center's website and provides members and the community access to see all of the scheduled activities, rentals, and meetings at the center. In this case, only calendar administrators can create calendar entries as a way to manage the facility and publicize opportunities for public engagement.
Making reservations to use a public meeting space
When a new coffee shop was being designed, owners recognized that people like to "meet up" at coffee shops and decided to create a space that would really welcome it. The Fox Den Coffee Shop's private meeting room offers a cozy, yet functional space for a casual conversation over a dining table, or a more formal business presentation utilizing a Smart TV in the room. In this case, the owner wanted a way for people to ask to reserve the space, so I provided a custom calendar on which users can request a time slot and the administrator is notified of the ask and can opt to accept and book the time - or communicate conflicts, etc., as needed to the requestor. All of this can be accomplished electronically using any internet connected device.
Reserving axe throwing lanes at a bowling alley
As powerful as the Brown Bear calendars are, they were not the right fit for this last example. When K Vegas Bowling opened they wanted to enable patrons to reserve axe throwing lanes, available by the hour on several weekdays. The schedule, however, needed to be easily changed, and times blocked from reservations, because the facility also does a lot of private party business. To avoid conflicts and streamline administration I instead opted to use another free service called Signup.com, originally designed for schools planning charity events. Signup.com was also a powerful resource for me while at Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, where I used it to manage many fundraising and special events. K Vegas is now administering a Signup for four axe throwing lanes and simply creates more "spots" and deletes them when not available. Members of the public can easily see open spots available and reserve them online. Paid versions of Signup are also available, though the free version is working well for this application. Paid options remove all ads.
If your organization or business struggles with organizing and communicating and needs to empower others to sign up and engage, these solutions may be options for you. Catchy Creations LLC is happy to provide a free consultation and create a sample product for you to see and experience to determine if it might overcome the challenges you face. Give me a call at 260-564-4556 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!