Most not for profit organizations rely on volunteers to deliver services. But since they are not paid, they are often overlooked in terms measuring their value to the organization. While contributions made by volunteers don’t show up on financial statements, they are likely the most critical factor in helping an organization deliver and reach its mission. You want to manage critical areas of the organization, but if they’re not being measured they’re likely not being managed effectively.
A few months ago I wrote about the value of measuring volunteer contributions. The focus at that time was on the value of hours worked. A recent survey by Software Advice, a volunteer software review firm, took a more in-depth look at what organizations were doing in terms of measuring the impact of their volunteers on goals and outcomes. I recommend you read the full report here.
Only 6% of those surveyed felt it was not important to measure the impact of volunteers, yet only 55% of those surveyed actually did measure in some form. The most popular data collection mhttps://www.volunteerscount.net/ethods included observation, surveys, software and interviews. The main factor for those who aren’t measuring impact included lack of resources, knowledge and time.
However, resources and assistance do exist — there are some links in the article mentioned above as well as one I mentioned in my blog a few months ago. check out the following sites.
What is most interesting about the above-mentioned study is how organizations that are measuring volunteer contributions are using the information to improve the quality of their volunteer programs. Organizations have used the data collected to increase recruitment, retention, and volunteer engagement. The measuring of volunteer impact has actually led to improvements in program outcomes for some organizations. Highlighting the impact of volunteers can influence donor decisions which can lead to increased funding. In a few situations it has resulted in the creation of a paid position.
While measuring the dollar value of volunteer time is the most popular metric (and one I discussed previously), it is not viewed as the most effective at measuring impact. For those that participated the research, the most effective metrics were project outputs and other indicators that reflect level of progress towards the mission of the organization.
Successful organizations constantly measure how they are doing and determine ways to improve. The key is finding out where they currently stand and then building on that to move forward. There is no question volunteers play a critical role in achieving the objectives and goals for most organizations. If you are serious about measuring how you are meeting your mission and the impact your organization has in the community, focusing on your volunteer program is an essential component of the process.