# 1 Appeal to Funders & Stakeholders
Don’t wait for funders to ask about volunteering impacts. Be proactive in your data collection and analysis to demonstrate the value of your volunteers. Experienced funders understand how a well-run volunteer program can extend the reach and impact of donated funds. Whether communicating with individual donors, foundations, or government grantors, providing well-polished volunteer impact reports can make the difference between securing funding and blowing it.
What’s the best way to go about collecting and reporting volunteer impact data? Here are a few tips to ensure your organization is on top of this often overlooked fundraising aspect.
- Track volunteer hours to gain accurate information about the economic value donated by volunteers. Donated hours and their dollar match count as in-kind donations and can be useful for a variety of reasons, especially in the case of grant applications that require matching funds. Many grantors will count in-kind donations as matching funds and you don’t want to miss this opportunity.
- The economic impact of what your volunteers accomplish can also be useful in communicating with funders. For instance, if Jane spends 2 hours a day serving 60 lunches to elderly adults, she is helping provide nutritious home-cooked meals and reducing social isolation. The cost of not providing these health and socialization services could be calculated, demonstrating the societal and economic value of the volunteer services your organization is providing.
- Data collection of this magnitude can sometimes feel overwhelming. To take the challenge out of accurate data collection, utilize a top notch volunteer tracking software program.
# 2 Improve practice & performance
It is essential that any nonprofit’s volunteer program is closely tied to the organizational mission and goals. A volunteer impact collection strategy can ensure volunteer activities remain in alignment with their original intention and can also demonstrate how much the volunteer program is helping accomplish the wider objective.
Here are a few tips to make sure the volunteer program is staying on target and running at its best performance:
- Conduct exit interviews with volunteers in order to collect volunteer feedback, positive and negative. Utilize comments to improve the experience for all constituents. And be sure to report back to your volunteers so that they know how much their feedback helped improve the process.
- Annual Volunteer Surveys: Create and implement an annual volunteer survey. Utilize this to show progress over time. When designing surveys, be sure to keep the end in mind by including questions that are closely tied to what you hope to accomplish with the information gathered. For instance, if you’re goal is to recruit new volunteers, design questions that will deliver that type of data (see below).
- Make sure your volunteer impact measurements are tied to your strategic plan. Be consistent in what you are asking and measuring so trends will become evident.
#3 Increase Recruitment & Marketing Effectiveness
Having a solid volunteer impact plan and practice can help with your PR game and boost your volunteer recruitment. People like seeing folks doing good deeds. They like watching accomplishments and hearing about progress. We all like to witness humanity helping each other and combating the plethora of problems faced by society. Make sure your organization helps to tell these heart-lifting stories by documenting the progress made by your volunteer team, on both a societal and individual level.
Here are some tried and tested tips to ensure you make the most of your time with volunteers so that you can continue to have a strong volunteer program:
- Have a photography plan. Photos are exceptionally useful for demonstrating volunteer impact. Before and after photos can clearly and succinctly communicate impact in a way that text descriptions are unable. If you can’t afford to have a professional (or dedicated) photographer at each volunteer event, consider providing a tangible incentive and easy-to-use platform for your volunteers to capture and share action shots of their service.
- When conducting your annual volunteer surveys (see above), you should include questions about how volunteering helped them secure employment, make beneficial relationships, or learn new skills. Including data such as “75% of our volunteers found meaningful employment within a year of service,” or “90% of our volunteers made a new friend during their service” could be powerful recruitment material.
- Create compelling visuals by utilizing your synthesized volunteer impact data. Infographics of volunteer impact should always be incorporated into your annual report. Your most dedicated donors and volunteers will be reading your annual reports so you should definitely highlight what an important role they played in helping the organization accomplish the yearly goals. Celebrate the team work with a variety of data. This cheerleading will help you continue to accomplish more and more.
Courtney Baines is Content Specialist for ServeHub. She has over 10 years experience in the nonprofit world, serving as a Founder, Program Director, and Executive Director for a variety of organizations. With a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, she specializes in curriculum design, nonprofit success, science literacy, and interdisciplinary education.