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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

TECH TIPS
with Michael Lee Stills

Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

Computer Image

~ July 2004 ~ Topics

Arrow Image R U ready 4 Text Messaging? Arrow Image

If you have teenaged volunteers, chances are they own a cell phone with text messaging. It is practically impossible to have teens that do not live and breath through email, instant messaging and cell phone use. You may have noticed that the phone number on teen applications are their personal cell phone number and not the number of the phone located at their home residence.

Most cell phone service providers offer text messaging and many teens today use text messaging as a means of communication. Personal relationships are started, maintained, and ended via text messaging. While some difficulty remains in the United States, places in Europe and Japan are well versed in free Short Messaging Services or SMS. Generally limited to 160 characters, short messages can be broadcast to individual cell phones via your computer.

In the US, most cell phone service providers like Verizon Wireless and Sprint offer free text messaging to one of their customer's cell phones. This requires you to know the service provider of the cell phone user and their cell phone number, of course. You type in a short message from the providers website and it is sent to your volunteer's cell phone as a text message. Cell Phone Image

Messages like, "Johnny, I really need your hours for last month, ASAP!" or "Raul, please have your parents sign the Release of Liability Form or you won’t be able to attend the field trip" or "Roseanne, we missed you on Monday, please contact me about your future involvement with our program," might be a few of the urgent messages you can communicate directly to the intended receiver.

Generally, these kinds of messages cost the user only pennies per message. Many have purchased a block of messages for a monthly fee (200 messages per month is not uncommon). You can also use a free site like Yahoo to send messages but only to providers that let Yahoo access their service. Still not widely available in the US, are software programs that allow you to send messages directly from your PC.

As this technology gets better, it will become easier to send messages to groups via email and other software programs to groups of users, much as we send group faxes today.

When you're ready for text messaging be prepared to learn a new language. Because most text messaging is from phone to phone, users have to use the keypad to send messages. As a result, "four" becomes 4 and "you" becomes U.

R U ready 4 Future?



Arrow Image VolunteerWorks: Adding Reminders to Multiple Volunteers Arrow Image

Are you using VolunteerWorks? If so drop me a note about your favorite features.

With over 4500 names in our VolunteerWorks database, adding information to each volunteer can be a time consuming process. Fortunately, the folks at Red Ridge have included a feature that allows you to add information to several volunteers at once. Let’s say you have 100 volunteers in your database that need to get their ID Badge issued. You might have set up a Reminder like this:

Action: Obtained ID Badge
Standing: Waived, Completed, Pending
Date Performed: Today
Expires: Never

(Note: If you forget the following, you can always used the Help feature to find this process. Search on "Tagged Records, Adding Information.")

  • Step 1: Tag all the volunteer records that you want to have the Reminder added to.
  • Step 2: Remove the tag from the first volunteer that you are adding the reminder to. This will be the first record to receive this particular reminder. (Note: If you leave this record tagged, a second copy will appear in their Reminder tag, just delete the extra copy.)
  • Step 3: Add the Reminder to the first Record.
  • Step 4: Go to Edit and click on Copy.
  • Step 5: Go to Tools, Tags and Click on Paste Reminder record from clipboard. Click on Start and answer YES.

All your tagged records and your first record should now have the Reminder pasted in their Reminder tab. Remember to Clear Tags before working with new information. This feature is also available with many of the other tabs where you have information to add.


Do you know of a better way? Or do you have any questions?
Drop me a note at Michael@MichaelStills.com.

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