Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S): What it Does, Why it Works & How to Get it

Today, we’re diving into Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S) – a volunteer management app that sits on top of Salesforce NPSP.

If any of the below points ring true, then this post was written for you!
Your org is seriously considering Salesforce & needs a volunteer solution
Your org already has Salesforce & needs a volunteer solution
You’re a Salesforce Admin who has never heard of V4S
You’re a Salesforce Admin who hasn’t had time to look into V4S
You just like learning about new tech in your spare time

I recently helped an org with their V4S setup. This post basically has all the notes I wish I knew at the time!

Okay. What is V4S?

V4S is a package (a bundle of objects, fields, page layouts, apex code, etc…) that sits on top of your Salesforce instance. When installed, those components help your org perform essential volunteer management tasks, like:

Creating volunteer jobs and shifts
Scheduling volunteers for shifts
Having volunteers select shifts & log hours
And a bunch of other things.

Without getting into the weeds, here’s what the Volunteer shift calendar looks like for your staff. The external-facing version is similar, except it lets Volunteers (new and existing) sign up for their own shifts.

And here’s the page for mass editing volunteer hours.

To see a more, check out this quick video by Salesforce.org. (Note: the screenshots in this video are for Salesforce Classic, an older interface. Don’t love that, but it’s still the best “demo” video I could find!)

How Much Does it Cost?

$0. You do not have to pay money to use V4S.

V4S isn’t a Salesforce-bred product. It’s open source, designed by members of the Salesforce nonprofit community (along with NPSP). 

That’s why it’s free. That’s also why you won’t find a clean sales page explaining all of the features (in case you’re like me and find that sort of thing helpful). But here’s the closest thing I could find, that highlights some of what’s possible.

Pros / Things to Love

Not too difficult to self-implement, once you have Salesforce
Documentation is super thorough (great job contributors!)
Good variety of pre-built Visualforce pages you can use right away (ex. The calendar signup page, volunteer interest form, a page for volunteers to log hours, etc..)
Ability for staff and volunteers to log their own hours online
Volunteer Signup Calendar is pretty schnazzy
Easy to mass update data for multiple volunteers/shifts
Does a good job at leveraging the standard Campaign object (in my opinion)

Challenges You May Find

Not much room to customize external-facing pages (unless someone on staff who knows Apex)
Troubleshooting glitches isn’t so straight-forward. Here are some issues I ran into (and how I fixed them).
Documentation aside, aspects of the data model can feel confusing when you first start out. For example, it’s hard to intuit the relationship between Volunteer Shifts, Jobs, Hours, and Contacts. (But it’s not impossible!)

Overall 

V4S is a great solution for nonprofits who are using Salesforce already, or strongly considering it. It’s easy to see how it would benefit orgs with a high volume of volunteers & opportunities.

Just know that if you choose to implement Salesforce, V4S will be one part of a giant learning curve. That’s just the reality of Salesforce implementation!

How to Install Today

To install the V4S app onto your Salesforce environment, follow the instructions laid out in the V4S Documentation on the Power of Us Hub – the online community of nonprofit Salesforce customers. There, you will find the link to install the package.

Pro-Tip: If you choose to install, I recommend spending time building/diagramming your data model, as it relates to the V4S object hierarchy. You can see those relationships in this Trailhead module.

p.s. If you’re not familiar, the Power of Us Hub is a great Salesforce community resource for the nonprofit sector. You can ask questions, sign up for events, and field best practices from the group!

Need extra support, or still on the fence? 

I HIGHLY recommend completing the Manage Volunteers for Nonprofits Trail on Trailhead before (and maybe as) you implement. That way you can walk through the setup process, without having to install anything in your own org’s actual Salesforce environment.

If you’ve never done one before, Trailhead modules are a great free tool for learning Salesforce. The V4S ones offer helpful context, meant to demonstrate how it can work for your org. 

p.s I found the trailhead modules to be pretty comprehensive. But I did run into a few quirks when setting up. I outline my issues & fixes here.

Happy Implementing!

Share your thoughts!