MOW Scheduler History


MOW Scheduler was designed to meet the ongoing volunteer scheduling needs of local Meals on Wheels groups and other home meal delivery non-profits.

The Problem

Our local Meals on Wheels organization delivers meals 5 days a week on around 30 different routes (jobs) each day, adding up to around 150 total shifts or slots a week. Some of the jobs may require multiple people with different responsibilities or skills (positions). For example, a delivery route may require one “driver” and one or more additional “servers” to help carry the meals. As you can already guess, keeping track of which shifts and which positions are filled with the required number of volunteers is a large task.

Many volunteers make a commitment to drive (or serve) the same route every week, or at least once a month. We call these ongoing assignments. But not all shifts have an ongoing assignment, and sometimes the regular person is on vacation, or sick, so that slot needs to be filled. We call a one-time ad-hoc assignment to a position a one-time assignment.

When a position in an upcoming shift is open, the volunteer coordinator needs to figure out who may be available to fill it. Since it takes a while to learn a route, it's preferable to fill an open shift with someone who is familiar with that route. Given the size of the volunteer roster and the number of routes, finding the right people to call is also a complex task.

So far we've only discussed the meal delivery problem, but the kitchen also relies on volunteers, and these kitchen jobs need to be scheduled as well.

Volunteers are awarded credit for their service (hours donated, miles driven). This information is important both to the volunteers and to the organization, for various reasons.

Given these characteristics, the volunteer coordinators need to be able to answer questions such as:

  • are we fully staffed for Wednesday's kitchen jobs?
  • how could we best use Sally next Tuesday?
  • how many miles did John drive last year?
  • who should we call to fill in as a server on Route 3 on Thursday morning?
  • did Mary show up for her shift today yet?
  • Joe's phone seems to be off, how else can I reach him?
  • has Phil been a reliable volunteer lately?

Our Solution

Our system provides tools to help the volunteer coordinators with all the problems and questions described above.

  • web based “cloud” system requires no special equipment, software or skills other than a standard web browser on a desktop or mobile system, and an Internet connection.
  • email or SMS text reminders automatically sent to volunteers about their upcoming shifts
  • a simple (but powerful) searchable contact manager for volunteer and internal staff contacts, with a flexible tag system to match the evolving searchability needs of the organization
  • daily and weekly calendar views show at a glance which shifts are short-handed
  • job views show the history of each job and position, including who has filled the shift in the past
  • dashboard provides a timely overview of system activity
  • report section provides insight into system activity, volunteer performance, etc.
  • public “help wanted” page that shows the upcoming volunteer opportunities and gives the volunteers a convenient way to sign up for a shift
  • your volunteers can log in to the volunteer portal for some extra capability, including updating their contact info and viewing their own assignments and previous shift history

About Us

The MOW Scheduler is developed by Purplewire. We're a privately owned web applications company headquartered in Syracuse, NY, with 20 years experience developing systems that facilitate collaboration and workflow processes for commercial, government, and non-profit organizations.