Sofware and services for emergency management and rescue organisations

You are here

Saving costs with VolunteerRescue

Posted Fri, 07/12/2013 - 20:42 by Scott Robinson

Volunteer organisations are typically funded by grants and donations that just about cover annual expenses, training, equipment replacement etc... Treasurers are often looking for new opportunites to save the pennies to make the available funds stretch as far as possible.

VolunteerRescue is fully aware of this situation with the company owner being a member of a volunteer organisation that is in the same situation as mentioned above and as a result VolunteerRescue has a number of features that can replace other fee based services organisations may be subscribing to.


Whilst most organisations would prefer to receive donations by cheque due to the low (or no) charge for deposting cheques to a bank account a vast majority of organisations either currently or would like to use an online service to accept credit card donations to provide potential donators an instant method of donating when browsing an organisations' web site.  Without this option organisations run the risk of losing the donation due to lack of convenience.

The downside to online donations is that online services that offer this service typically apply a transaction charge of around 4% to 5%.

VolunteerRescue also provides a donations feature that provides a lower rate for not for profit charities.  If there was a way to collect these payments at no charge it would offered but unfortunately this is not possible as a merchant provider has to be used to process credit card payments.  VolunteerRescue uses PayPal for credit card processing and PayPal has special rates for not for profit organisations

  • In Canada as of July 2013 this is 1.9% + $0.30c per transaction
  • In the UK as of July 2013 this is 1.4% + £0.20p per transaction

An analysis of a non rescue based not for profit organisation based in Canada that also uses the donation feature of VolunteerRescue showed they paid an average fee of 2.01% over a 12 month period.

Automated call out system

One of the most time consuming tasks at the start of a call out is calling all the members to see who can respond, over time this has been automated with the use of systems such as pagers, e-mail to sms gateway and more and more increasingly online services.  The advantage here is that all appropriate members can be called in one easy process freeing time to focus on organising the response.

The online automated call out services are offered by businesses that need to make profits and the call out procedure itself needs to use the telephony network which is not free of charge resulting in a cost to use these services.

VolunteerRescue also provides an automated call out service which apart from the benefit of being integrated therefore able to make use of member details and groups already defined in an organisations VolunteerRescue service has the additional benefit of only charging a call rate.  VolunteerRescue uses a third party company to handle sending SMS text messages and making voice calls and the only charge made is that made by the third party company; no extra charges are added to generate revenue for VolunteerRescue which keeps the costs as low as possible.

In North America the call charge rates as of July 2013 are

  • $1.00 US per calendar month for one phone number
  • $0.01 US per inbound voice minute
  • $0.02 US per outbound voice minute
  • $0.01 US per inbound and per outbound SMS text message

Web site

This is probably not a big saving in the overall scheme of things but VolunteerRescue is its own web site and is included at no extra charge although some considerations do need to be made

  • Whether an organisation is happy to use the VolunteerRescue domain names of or which have no charge or whether the organisation wants their own domain name in which case a charge will be made by the domain name provider
  • When an organisation uses their own domain name assuming it is not forwarded to one of the VolunteerRescue domain names of or a secure certificate will be required to protect the information, for forwarded domain names the secure certificate is purchased by VolunteerRescue and an organisation would not need their own secure certificate


Whilst there is no avoiding that an organisation will need to pay for software such as VolunteerRescue, VolunteerRescue provides features that can replace current subscribed services typically resulting in reducing (or possibly eliminating) in real terms the cost of the VolunteerRescue service to an organisation.