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Components of a Volunteer Program Evaluation

A volunteer leader's work is never done. After you've developed the program, recruited and onboarded volunteers, and have a few events under your belt, there's more to be done—specifically, evaluating the program to ensure that it is meeting your goals. Terrific, you're probably thinking, another template, another set of questions, and more analysis to present to the board.

Evaluating a Volunteer Program

The good news? A well-thought-out, and well-implemented program naturally flows to a solid evaluation system. Here are the steps to creating a program that assesses how consistently your program is meeting its goals, how your volunteers feel about their roles in the program, and the overall community impact. When you present a tightly constructed, well-organized analysis to your board, that goes a long way towards maintaining their confidence and support.

A program evaluation is two-pronged: you're assessing and measuring the success of the program as well as the volunteers. Here, we'll focus on the program itself.

Volunteer Program Evaluation Tools

Start by reviewing your program goals. If you've embraced the philosophy of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals, this should be a straightforward process. This evaluation should be a comprehensive roadmap for further growing your volunteer program. 

Volunteer Program Evaluation Template

To use corporate-speak, identify the key performance indicators (KPI) that tell the tale of your success. Here are some good jumping-off points.

  • Number of active volunteers
  • Number of logged volunteer hours
  • Number of people served by your volunteers
  • Monetary value of volunteer support
  • Volunteer retention rate

Remember that these metrics are the broad foundation for an evaluation; every organization is different. Yours may focus on an entirely unique set of standards. If your organization puts on a special event or gala every year, then you'd look at things like the number of donors, how the donor contributions break down, vendor in-kind donations, costs to produce the event, and most importantly, net funds raised.  

Volunteer Program Evaluation Framework

Extract the data that covers your primary metrics so that you can analyze and quantify the numbers. These KPIs should align with your mission and the SMART goals you set at the initiation of your program.

Volunteer Program Impact Assessment

How are your volunteers meeting your stated expectations? The hours they put in are just the beginning of assessing impact; these value-driven questions help determine your footprint in the community. 

  • Making your case—does your program inspire engagement in the board, donors, and internal leaders? 
  • Motivation—how can your findings develop your volunteer program?
  • Accountability—are you deploying your volunteers in the best placements relative to their skills and your mission?
  • Evaluation—can you accurately measure your program's operations and services?

Volunteer Program Performance Metrics

If you're a novice volunteer leader, here's a pro tip. You use the same tools to measure success as you do in the for-profit sector; board members are responsible for the broad outlines of the organization's goals and purpose, while the employees carry out the vision. We cannot stress enough that every nonprofit has a unique mission and measures outcomes differently. 

If you're not sure how to shape your evaluation and KPIs, look at the data you've chosen to collect—that information lays out your priorities and will help you develop your evaluation metrics.

Volunteer Program Evaluation Metrics

We've touched on the quantitative measures, now let's focus on the qualitative metrics and how to assess them. 

  • What's your organizational reputation?
  • What are the perceived community benefits?
  • What are the actual benefits?
  • Do the volunteers have feelings of satisfaction?

Data can't measure qualitative metrics, but if you maintain a PR file for mentions in traditional and social media, and track social media comment threads, you'll get a good idea of your success. 

Volunteer Program Data Collection 

You can also formally interview some volunteers or send out a survey to the community you serve to calculate the qualitative results. GetConnected collects the data on fundraising, community members served, volunteer hours, and the like; a financial and statistical analysis of the data paints the picture of how you met those quantifiable metrics. 

Volunteer Program Reporting

Reporting on your program is akin to a corporate annual report—it's your chance to spotlight the success of your program. Be creative and use lots of color and graphics, and focus on the qualitative impact first—tell the stories. Sprinkle in the hard data where it fits best. Don't forget to do the math on the dollar value of the volunteer hours you've logged—$29.95 in 2021. That's before inflation. 

Volunteer Program Evaluation Form

You can build your evaluation in either a survey or questionnaire format. Just remember that your primary audience for the evaluation results are your board and staff, so focus on the metrics and information that they find most interesting and valuable.

Your donors, board, volunteers, and community supporters might be interested in these volunteer statistics. 

  • Number of active volunteers
  • Volunteer demographics
  • Volunteers who are also donors
  • Volunteer referral sources

Also, include a section on client satisfaction. You can survey clients with a method as simple as a comment card, or email a survey. Or just ask!

Volunteer Program Assessment

An anonymous survey is probably the most efficient way to get feedback on your program from the volunteers. A well-written survey speaks to how volunteers feel about both personal and organizational outcomes. 

Volunteer Program Evaluation Questions

When you're thinking about the questions, focus on these points. Expand on them in the best ways that align with your program goals.

  • How can we improve the volunteer experience?
  • How can we improve programming?
  • Are our recruiting tools effective?
  • Do the volunteers have an overall feeling of satisfaction?
  • Do volunteers feel like their opinions matter?

Why collect this feedback? Several reasons. A volunteer who is heard also feels heard. Human nature being what it is, they then feel empowered because their thoughts and feelings matter. Empowered volunteers are a lot more inclined to greater engagement and retention, so that's a win across the board. 

Another reason to take this feedback seriously? Because it gives you unparalleled insight into how your team is thinking about the organization in general and their role in particular. Gathering and analyzing this data helps you figure out the weak points in your program so you can tweak them into something stronger. 

Make sure your survey covers the unpleasant stuff, too. Discuss communication, commitment, burnout, and stress, along with satisfaction.  When you understand the thoughts behind the raw data, you're better equipped to manage the perceived negatives.

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