In previous posts, I explained how SimplyCircle differs from regular email and from email marketing services such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp. Today, I will explain how SimplyCircle compares to online signup sheet services such as SignUpGenius or I will describe situations in which online signup sheet services are more appropriate, and others where SimplyCircle is likely to meet your needs better.

Services like SignUpGenius were created to move signup sheets from paper to online. They are great single-purpose tools for online signup sheets. If signups are the main or only reason why you need to communicate with a group of people, look no further than SignUpGenius or

On the other hand, if you need to communicate with a group of people on a permanent or long-term basis (e.g., you’re a teacher and you have 50 parents that you need to keep informed on a regular basis, or a PTA/PTO leader who needs to send email newsletters, share school calendar, and organizing fundraising events), you should give SimplyCircle a try. SimplyCircle was designed as an online parent portal, complete with a newsfeed with recent posts, an online calendar with automated email reminders, engagement-driving features such as online signups and RSVPs, and a permanent and private group archive of all photos and documents shared with the group.

Here are situations when SimplyCircle is better than online signup sheets:

  • SimplyCircle includes online signup sheets, but goes well beyond that in supporting many different types of communications: updates and announcements, events and tasks (complete with automated reminders, RSVPs, and easy calendar imports), photos and documents. So as a group leader, you can handle all of your group communication and organizing with one convenient service, rather than using SignUpGenius for signups, regular email for sending out updates, Shutterfly to share photos, etc.
  • SimplyCircle reduces “email overload” for parents, and eliminates the manual copying-and-pasting of information. Many SimplyCircle customers belong to several different circles (or groups), and they need just one app to access and manage all of them. Daily Digest and Morning Reminder emails are also consolidated across all of the circles that they belong to, so they get just 1 email instead of 10.
  • SimplyCircle is completely ad-free, even for a free version. In contrast, SignUpGenius and VolunteerSpot both support their free version with ads, some of which may be irrelevant or irritating to your audience. With SimplyCircle, the attention is solely on you and your communication, there are no ads or other distractions.

On the other hand, there are some features that online signup sheet services have that SimplyCircle does not. So if they are important to you, use SignUpGenius instead.

  • As a signup sheet creator, you can customize the look of your signup sheet with different designs and color schemes. You also have access to signup sheet templates and many advanced signup sheet options (some of which are free, others are paid).
  • Anybody can access and sign up for your online signup sheet as long as they have a link to it.
  • Both SignUpGenius and VolunteerSpot have a free (ad-supported) version of their signup sheet software. In contrast, on SimplyCircle signup sheets are a premium feature that is available with either Silver or Gold plans.

If minimizing cost is of paramount importance, and you just need to create signup sheets, go with the free version of SignUpGenius. It’s the most popular online signup service.

If your budget is constrained, but you still need to communicate with your group beyond signups, you can do a combination of free versions of both services. Use the free version of SimplyCircle for basic one-way (broadcast-style) communication, AND embed links to SignUpGenius signup sheets in your SimplyCircle posts, events or tasks. This way you can have your cake and eat it too – for free.

Bottom line:

  • If your group communication and organization needs are limited to online signups, go with the single-purpose tool that is optimized for that, like SignUpGenius.
  • If you have broader and more complex group communication needs – e.g., you need to do signups AND updates AND newsletters AND event RSVPs AND photo sharing AND private messaging AND membership tracking– then SimplyCircle is a better choice. Give it a try for free today!