In the busy nonprofit environment, the job of volunteer management can sometimes overshadow the process of formally evaluating your volunteer program. However, without some sort of gauge, it’s hard to tell if your program is accomplishing what it set out to do. It takes some time and effort to gather and synthesize this data, but the results are well worth it. If you find out you are succeeding, you can use that evidence to make your case for enhancements and/or more support. On the other hand, if your program isn’t where you would like it to be, you have the opportunity to take corrective action. With all this in mind, we’ll suggest below some methods for evaluating your program.
Get Your Numbers in Order
When setting up your volunteer program, you should have developed some goals for it. Ideally, these benchmarks could be quantified and exhibited by some key performance indicators (KPIs). Every situation is different, but some examples of KPIs include the total number of active volunteers, number of volunteer hours logged, individuals served, monetary value of services rendered, or any other number of possibilities related to your organization. The main point is to make sure the indicators are meaningful and measurable. If you haven’t established any, be sure to make it a priority. It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. With the proper volunteer management software, tracking and compiling these numbers should be easy.
Ask for Input
Key performance indicator data is important: it can assure us that things are going well or alert us when there is a problem. However, on their own, KPIs don’t show us the whole picture. To get a more global view of why your numbers are up or down, you will probably have to dig deeper by asking for other people’s perceptions.
An easy way to do this is to send surveys to those involved. Email questionnaires are simple to create and distribute. Make sure to send them to all involved. You’ll want input from attendees, volunteers, and paid staff. Each group is likely to have a completely different perspective.
For more detail, conduct some interviews. Create situations in which the interviewee can be honest. Solicit help from those outside the program to perform the interviews. With the interviewer as a neutral party, interviewees won’t be as tempted to “sugarcoat” their answers. Similarly, exit interviews of volunteers are a great method of getting honest feedback, since they are on their way out the door.
The important thing to remember is to take your evaluation results in stride. Some folks will always be extra-critical, while others will glow about everything. Focus on what most of the people think of your program most of the time.
Now, with your numbers and feedback analyzed, it’s time to look forward and create an action plan and a new set of goals. Interested in more information on effective goal setting? Click here for tips from the VolunteerHub blog.
Shawn Kendrick holds an MBA from Ohio Dominican University and has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and business sectors. He enjoys researching and blogging for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management system that offers online registration, email and text messaging, report generation, and much more.