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Volunteer Feedback: Sourcing, Analyzing, and Implementing

Many organizations depend on volunteers to ensure the success of their projects. Since these people give their time free of charge, they are highly sensitive to their contribution to the cause. Besides showing volunteers their impact, it's integral to learn how they feel about the process.

That's where volunteer feedback comes in.

Volunteer feedback is an important building block of successful volunteer management. Knowing what your volunteers think and feel can provide valuable insight into their contribution to your organization.

Let's take a closer look at asking for volunteer feedback and taking full advantage of it. 

The Importance of Volunteer Feedback

Volunteer feedback is an integral part of your volunteer engagement strategy. To become engaged, volunteers need to feel valued and appreciated. By asking about their thoughts and feelings, you are ensuring exactly that and much more.

  • Program Development - Volunteers provide valuable insight into the quality of your program. They can help you identify program growth and development opportunities while working on loopholes and errors.
  • Volunteer Retention - Unsatisfied volunteers leave organizations quickly and never consider donorship. Getting feedback from volunteers and finding out what makes them happy (or unhappy) can help you design effective volunteer retention
  • Program Improvement - One of the main reasons why volunteers leave the program is mismatched opportunities. Volunteer feedback surveys can help you see what your management team may have missed when matching volunteers to their current roles and departments.
  • Volunteer Recognition - Volunteer feedback can help you streamline volunteer appreciation and recognition efforts while driving your retention tactics.
  • Volunteer Recruitment - By gathering feedback, you can identify areas for improvement in your recruitment and onboarding process. This can help you attract more volunteers and ensure their smooth experience with the organization.

Volunteer feedback examples include the level of volunteer satisfaction (usually, on a scale from 1 to 10), suggestions for improvements, and the desire to recommend volunteering at your organizations to friends and co-workers.

Without volunteer feedback, it may be nearly impossible to achieve a high volunteer program ROI. While excellent volunteer management, coordination, and supervision can streamline your efforts, the insights you gain from volunteer feedback carry immense value.

How to Gather Volunteer Feedback

To maximize the effect of getting feedback from volunteers, it's important to implement a system for gathering it.

Volunteer Surveys

The most effective way to gather feedback is to arrange regular volunteer surveys. Volunteer feedback survey questions are aimed at understanding:

  • What volunteers think about collaboration with your organization
  • How volunteers feel about working with your organization
  • Whether volunteers feel engaged
  • What volunteers want to change about the collaboration
  • How likely volunteers are to stay with the organization
  • What volunteers need to improve their experience
  • What affects volunteer satisfaction in your organization

When designing volunteer feedback survey questions, it's important to keep them short. Volunteers are usually too busy to handle long-form surveys with complex open-ended replies.

If you hand them a large survey, they may experience survey fatigue before starting the survey, or worse, quit in the middle so you lose the responses they've already given.

If you aren't sure where to start, you can take advantage of volunteer survey templates with general volunteer survey questions and change them according to the organization's needs.

Collect Demographic Data

Before asking the necessary volunteer survey questions, you can collect demographic data. While you are likely to have some of it on file, certain aspects (income level, hobbies) may change over time. This information can help you understand which volunteer segments are likely to contribute to your organization in the future.

Volunteer Supervision and Coordination

Among other responsibilities, volunteer supervisors, coordinators, and managers are responsible for overseeing the way volunteers work. For example, volunteer supervisors are always present on-site to monitor volunteer activities.

These specialists can take advantage of their unique placement and ask volunteer questions while they are working. While this doesn't have to sound like an interrogation, an occasional organic question could provide valuable insight into the way volunteers feel about their responsibilities.

Additionally, you may consider scheduling short one-on-one meetings, during which volunteers can share their concerns with supervisors.

Volunteer Focus Groups 

Arranging volunteer focus groups doesn't just create an excellent opportunity to communicate with your volunteers. It can provide valuable volunteer feedback. By sharing your thoughts, experiences, goals, and objectives, you can encourage volunteers to voice their opinions, feelings, and concerns. 

How to Analyze and Implement Volunteer Feedback

The key to building volunteer relationships and retaining your team isn't just gathering and analyzing feedback, it's implementing it. When volunteers provide feedback and take time to fill out surveys, they expect you to do something about the information they share.

If you don't implement feedback, volunteers can't feel valued or heard. Studies show that over 40% of volunteers aren't pleased with the way they are being managed. That's why it's important to show them that you are listening.

For example, if a volunteer is unhappy with their placement and mentions it in the survey, it's imperative to change it as soon as possible. Otherwise, a volunteer isn't likely to be engaged or productive or take time to fill out surveys in the future.

It's integral to process all answers and compare them to previous results. To make analysis easier, try not to ask too many open-ended questions in your surveys. With multiple choice, scale, and yes/no replies, it's easier to build visual graphs and see what your program may be lacking.

Feedback Works Both Ways

While volunteer feedback is highly valuable for your program, don't forget about management feedback. Volunteers expect to hear your thoughts about their activities. Besides recognition and appreciation, it's important to outline areas for improvement.

Volunteer feedback examples from your side can include your satisfaction with the collaboration, suggestions for improvement, and opportunities for further communication. 

Volunteers who don't receive any feedback from the management, eventually feel disengaged. It's up to your management team to make feedback a two-way street. While providing feedback to your volunteer team, you create an opportunity for volunteers to talk about their concerns.

Leveraging Volunteer Feedback for Your Organization

Gathering, analyzing, and implementing volunteer feedback can help you improve your volunteer program, boost engagement, reduce churn, and increase productivity. The key to making this feedback work for you is arranging regular volunteer surveys and encouraging communication with volunteer managers.

Volunteer management software is another way you can improve volunteer communication by easily gathering and implementing volunteer feedback. If you'd like to take a closer look at the best features and tools for volunteer organizations, check out our blog on the top volunteer management tools for nonprofits.  

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