Not long ago, Sonja Iribarren’s life was cluttered with heaps upon heaps of paper sign up sheets and her schedule was filled with many trips back and forth to her child’s school to check in on the latest updates to her Fall Festival or Book Fair volunteer sign up sheets. She constantly worried about making mistakes and dreaded hearing, “Wait, I didn’t sign up for that time!” from another busy volunteer. With four kids and an already busy schedule, Iribarren sensed there had to be an easier way to organize school and life activities.
Word traveled quickly among moms and PTA members at McKenzie Elementary in Wilmette, IL, that there was an online resource that could save a great deal of time and energy. The “rumor” was it was FREE, too. Iribarren looked into the site, called SignUpGenius.com, but was initially skeptical about moving a system like hers online. Would her parent volunteers “get” it? Would it really work? Iribarren is now glad she took the leap of faith and created her very first sign up. It helped event planning become less burdensome and anxiety provoking. “I don’t worry about making mistakes anymore,” she says. Since creating that first sign up, she hasn’t looked back.
The Fall Frenzy event at McKenzie calls for over 100 volunteers and is a complicated one. Volunteers are organized across several different sign ups broken down into categories such as “Games,” “Crafts,” and various other responsibilities. With several different time slots available and many volunteers needed over the course of the entire event, scheduling could get very complicated – especially when someone needed to move or change their schedule around after they signed up. Making sure people were in the right places and everything was covered was always a challenge. SignUpGenius helped streamline the process.
With a large event the hardest part is often recruiting volunteers. Before using SignUpGenius, Iribarren sent emails that read, “Please come to the lobby and sign up for the Fall Frenzy” – and relied on people to do just that. Now she can email a link to an online sign up that is hassle-free, where volunteers have the power to view all opportunities and also see those that have already signed up. “[SignUpGenius] reduces the hassle. It actually increases the amount of people that sign up!”
Iribarren cites the three biggest perks of using SignUpGenius to be Autonomy, Accessibility and Convenience. Volunteers have total control to sign up for the time or activity that they desire and can even see who they want to work with. They can also swap or delete as needed and can access the site any time to check their responsibilities. The system also sends reminders to each individual who signs up and helps to hold people accountable.
Prior to using SignUpGenius, Iribarren was concerned about the fact that their group was made up of both computer-savvy and non-computer-savvy folks, but she was impressed that everyone found the site equally easy to use. Even now when a parent will ask, “Oh, will YOU just sign me up?” she will quickly pull them over and show them how easy the system is to navigate. “Everyone loves it,” she comments. Once they use the system and know it, they rely on it.
Now, Iribarren even sees organizing with SignUpGenius as a stamp of approval for an event. “If I’m asked to be involved with an event and they are using SignUpGenius, it’s a sign of a well-run event. It changes my willingness to get involved with an event.”
The news of SignUpGenius has certainly spread throughout the school district and beyond. Iribarren says that most of the PTA and other school events and activities throughout Wilmette District 39 are now being coordinated through the site. From Book Fairs to Classroom Volunteers, from Cafeteria Duty to Yearbook Photography Duty, from Class Wish Lists to large events like Fall Frenzy – Sonja says busy parents have found that SignUpGenius can be used for it all.
Iribarren honestly can’t imagine life without SignUpGenius anymore. For anyone not yet using SignUpGenius, she says, “Try it! It’s a life-saver; You’ll never go back. It’s easy, fast, and eliminates errors. If someone told me I had to plan an event, but for some reason I couldn’t use SignUpGenius, I’d say, ‘I’m OUT.’”
The staff of SignUpGenius enjoys helping moms like Sonja Iribarren develop a better system of organizing their school’s volunteers. If you’re interested in presenting information about using SignUpGenius to a school or organization you work with, simply go to the downloadable resources on the site to locate the information that will work best for your group. Once they start using this free volunteer management system, you’ll be glad you did!