For a meeting with just a handful of volunteers, a simple Excel spreadsheet might be all that's needed to keep track of assignments, shifts, contact information and other data. But if the work force is much larger, consider software specifically designed to manage volunteers.
One such product comes from Toronto-based Volunteer2 (volunteer2.com) and is used by the Professional Convention Management Association at its annual meetings, which typically employ 200 to 300 volunteers.
The software works like this: The client populates the program with a list of jobs and time slots to be filled, and would-be volunteers are e-mailed a web address, where they can register, browse through open shifts and sign up for whatever interests them. If, say, five room-monitor shifts are available, each time a person signs up, the number of helpers still required for that shift drops by one, until the job is fully staffed and closed.
One-time setup and initial training on the Volunteer2 software costs $995, following which an annual fee is assessed based on the number of active volunteers (i.e., those who actually are accepted), starting at $95 for 50 helpers up to $750 for 1,000. For full pricing and other information, visit volunteer2.com/VI-pricing.asp.