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Measuring Volunteer Impact: Why, When, and How

Nonprofit organizations that focus on measuring volunteer impact, can make educated decisions about their operations and streamline volunteer performance.

Since volunteers are an integral part of many nonprofit activities, getting the most out of this partnership can have a significant impact on the organization's success.

With more than 60 million people volunteering annually, their impact is an important KPI that can drive growth and development.

Let's take a closer look at measuring volunteer impact in your organization.

Why Measure Volunteer Impact?

Measuring volunteer impact can help you gain valuable insight into how well your volunteer program is functioning.

Here are a few important things you can learn by measuring impact:

Once you measure the impact of your volunteer program, you can understand whether you need to channel more resources into the collaboration.

Expert tip: While analyzing your volunteer program, you can also focus on measuring the impact of employee volunteering vs non-employee volunteering. Since corporate volunteerism generates more volunteers for nonprofit programs, their impact can be more significant.  

How to Measure Volunteer Impact

To measure volunteer impact, you would need to evaluate volunteer metrics that are relevant to your organization. Here are a few metrics to consider:

  • Volunteer engagement – the impact of volunteer engagement on your organization's operation is high since engagement drives productivity.  Measuring the impact of volunteer engagement usually involves arranging regular surveys. By comparing the results, you can see how volunteer engagement changes over time.
  • Volunteer satisfaction – satisfied volunteers are likely to stay with the program, achieve better results, donate to the cause, and recruit other volunteers. Measuring volunteer satisfaction can help you discover opportunities for program improvement.
  • Volunteer attendance – volunteer no-shows have a negative effect on the organization's daily operations. By monitoring attendance continuously, it can be easier to identify reasons for missed days.
  • Retention – by comparing the number of new volunteers to the number of repeat volunteers, you can see how well your retention strategies are working. Repeat volunteers are usually happy with the collaboration. They are also more likely to become donors.
  • Volunteer costs – volunteer programs include a variety of costs, including training, recognition, development, and others. Monitoring these costs can help you identify the return on investment of volunteer programs.
  • Donations – since donations make a significant impact on your organization's growth and development, you need to track how many volunteers turn into donors.  Studies show that 79% of people donate to the organization they volunteer for. Monitoring this metric can help you identify loopholes in your program and consider whether adding more value to the collaboration can increase the number of donations.

Depending on the organization's needs and goals, you can add other relevant metrics to the list. In many cases, volunteer impact can be tangible. Then you can calculate the return on investment by:

  • Calculating the total investment in the program (training costs, recruitment, recognition)
  • Calculating the value of volunteer contribution (e.g., how much money was raised for a certain cause)
  • Subtracting the total investment from the value of contribution and dividing the number by the total investment.

If the results aren't tangible, calculating the ROI may be tricky. You can go another way and compare volunteer impact to paid employee impact. Measuring the impact of employee volunteering can put the overall volunteer impact in perspective. 

Alternatively, you can evaluate how your organization changes over a certain period of time after implementing a volunteer program.

While measuring volunteer impact, consider communicating this impact to volunteers. It's important for volunteers to see how they contribute to the success of your organization. This can increase engagement and stimulate volunteers to donate to the cause.

Tools to Measure Volunteer Impact

To measure volunteer impact, you need to collect data. The most useful data comes from the volunteers themselves. However, you may also dig deeper into your organization's success metrics to see how volunteers make a difference.


SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Setting these goals and achieving them can streamline your organization's operations: 

  • Specific – clear and understandable to all team members.
  • Measurable – can be measurable with specific metrics over time.
  • Achievable – possible to achieve with the resources you currently possess.
  • Relevant – aligns with your organization's goals.
  • Timely – come with a clear timeline.

An example of a SMART goal is "By May 1, 2023, we will organize two events to help us raise $10,000 for the community."

By setting these goals, you don't just gain a valuable tool for measuring the impact. You also help volunteers achieve success with your company.

Volunteer Survey

Volunteer satisfaction and engagement surveys can go a long way toward demonstrating their impact and identifying weak spots in the program. You can implement these surveys at regular intervals and see how replies change over time.

Questions to ask include:

  • How satisfied does working with our organization make you feel?
  • How valued do you feel as a volunteer in this organization?
  • What do you enjoy about your experience here?
  • What is the key reason why you chose to volunteer with this organization?

Make sure to keep surveys short. It's better to arrange several smaller surveys than one big one. Volunteers rarely have time for long surveys so too many questions can cause survey fatigue.

Expert tip: Make your volunteer surveys mobile-friendly. Since they are always on the go, your volunteers may not have time to fill out paper or online surveys.

Volunteer Tracking Software 

When you measure volunteer impact, you need to analyze a variety of data,  including the time volunteers contribute to your organization. Volunteer tracking software doesn't just automate the hours-tracking process. It provides valuable information for analysis.

It can help you measure attendance, evaluate the duration of volunteer participation, and understand how many volunteers choose to come back for new projects. 

Taking a Professional Approach to Measuring Volunteer Impact

Measuring volunteer impact is key to understanding how well your volunteer program is working. By tracking metrics, surveying volunteers, and evaluating the changes to the organization's bottom line, you gain insight into the opportunity to enhance your volunteer program or streamline your approach to volunteer management.

Galaxy Digital's comprehensive volunteer management platform has all the tools you need for tracking volunteer metrics and measuring the impact of employee volunteering. To see how it can help your organization succeed, please book a free demo today.

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