Crisis - Volunteer Management System

Helping end homelessness with a scalable system to manage an army of volunteers

Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, appointed Totally to build them a bespoke volunteer application management system to get themselves ready for their big Christmas event.  Previously, everything had been paper based, so it was incredibly inefficient on time and resource; and there was no handle on legacy data, which meant no consistency or learning from previous campaigns. 

They had tried off the shelf solutions, that failed to deliver their vision and were restrictive, so we had a short time frame to build a very complex system, with very little room for error. We were confident that a logical approach would deliver the best solution for this incredibly good cause.

The system had to enable the application process for their 20,000 applicants, all offering a vast array of skills and based in locations across the UK and each needing to be vetted. It also required an admin feature once people were successful in their application to configure relevant skills, resources, training, events and shifts across multiple locations and dates. A mammoth undertaking that needed a much more advanced system to save time and increase accuracy.

Project Highlights

– Bespoke Volunteer Portal
– Self Management Interfaces
– Communication Tools<
– Shift Management Matrix
– Advanced Reporting
– Training & Events Management


We built a system, that for the first time ever, let Crisis manage the entire application process for their 20,000 applicants and vet all applications, seamlessly.

The volunteer management portal allows people to manage their shifts and make changes to their profiles.  There is also and community and forums area and Crisis can also communicate with specific volunteers using a ‘query builder’ to generate targeted emails and letters; all of which creates better communication and engagement.

In terms of deploying their army of volunteers, the system self regulates, redirecting volunteers across 40,000 different variants of capabilities, shifts and locations. Once an event is up and running, a mobile-friendly attendance system delivers live reporting to track on-the-day targets.


Having this robust system in place has enabled Crisis to scale from being just London based to launching in five cities across the UK. By putting the onus on the end user, it made them incredibly more efficient and the solution phenomenally more cost effective.  Since their initial investment, minimal budget has been required each year to maintain it.

The software now enables the recruitment of large numbers of volunteers with a range of skills with ease. The speed of the background processing means that the impact on staff is significantly reduced and we are able to use the data collected to inform how the recruitment is progressing during the lead up to Christmas. The support we receive from Totally during and after our ‘live’ period has been prompt and effective.

Chris Freed

Volunteer Projects Manager