HandsOn Bay Area is a nonprofit that has been connecting people to volunteer opportunities and strengthening local communities since the late 1980s.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to an abundance of volunteer opportunities, but logistics often keep would-be do-gooders from taking the time to pitch in. HandsOn Bay Area has been connecting people to volunteer opportunities and strengthening local communities since the late 1980s. In 2015, HandsOn Bay Area worked with over 16,000 volunteers to provide more than 56,000 hours of service to 300+ schools, parks, and nonprofits across the Bay Area. The numbers get a boost when corporations get involved, and a rise in corporate social responsibility has meant significant growth for HandsOn Bay Area.
Corporations (including Google, Facebook, and Salesforce) hire HandsOn Bay Area to manage volunteer events that help communities, increase employee morale, and strengthen brand reputation. Since HandsOn Bay Area handles all the behind-the-scenes logistics, employees get an enriching hands-on experience, while the corporation and nonprofit remain hands off—a balance that’s crucial to the success of these events. But with HandsOn Bay Area handling the logistics work for so many other organizations, how do they handle their own operations?
Growth and Efficiency—Fueled by Technology
“I love to look for efficiencies and effective ways of running an organization, and technology really helps to make that happen,” says HandsOn Bay Area’s finance director, Chad Wolbrink. “Technology like Zenefits has allowed us to grow and to take on more clients because we’re more organized. If we were still on old systems and doing things the old way, we’d be overwhelmed. We couldn’t keep up, and we’d need to slow down.” And HandsOn Bay Area is definitely not slowing down. They’re currently adding twelve new staff members to keep up with the growing demand for their services.
Before Zenefits, hiring meant Chad would have to create each new offer letter, email it, wait to get it back, file it, and then repeat the whole process. With Zenefits, he uses a single, customizable offer letter and receives email notifications when his candidates accept and electronically sign the job offers. In the past, he’d meet with new hires for hours—going through paperwork, verifying documents, and collecting signatures. Now, new employees complete their onboarding online, in minutes, before reporting for their first day of work.
“I’ve worked in nonprofits for about 20 years, and I’ve worked at five different nonprofits during that time,” says Chad. “Nonprofits can be very slow to catch up with technology. They think it’s too expensive or difficult. They don’t understand that an investment in technology will ultimately save time where they were maybe planning to hire staff instead.” Chad operates with a lean team of four, and Zenefits enables him to detach from the day-to-day so he can process new clients and oversee his people.
Making HR Easier—So People Can Focus on Priorities
Paid-time off (PTO) is one area in which Chad is seeing greater efficiency. With Zenefits PTO tracking, managers can easily review, approve, or deny PTO requests within an email. “To be able to approve or deny it in the email is huge,” he says. “People love that. And the fact the employee gets notification once it’s approved. We’re all checking email all the time, but we’re not necessarily logging in.“
HandsOn Bay Area’s employees echo Chad’s enthusiasm for Zenefits and find the dashboard “so easy.” Before, if employees had to make a change to their HR data, they’d have to log in to other sites—and logins were always being forgotten. Dealing with HR information was time-consuming, and it took employees away from their focuses and priorities. Chad explains: “With Zenefits, employees love that they can go in, see all their health insurance, make adjustments to commuter benefits, and update payroll or their address. Before, they’d come to me, I’d give them a form, they’d fill it out, I’d scan it, send it to our HR team, and they’d have to then enter it into the appropriate system. Now that we have the Zenefits way of doing it, I think: why did we ever do that?!”
The potential for growth is what excites Chad most about the future of HandsOn Bay Area. “Our business is running so much more smoothly because of Zenefits,” he says. “I have so much more time to focus on other things beside HR, which then frees up other people and allows us to take on more clients.” It takes a lot of energy for corporations to get to know the nonprofit space, and HandsOn Bay Area acts as a conduit—uniting people who want to do projects with those who need the help. “Our mission is not only to get people volunteering, but ultimately we want people to be engaged in their communities and giving back. We’re expanding our reach more and more, so we can spread the wealth across the Bay Area.”