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Volunteer Managers, do you ever wonder if it’s just you?
Do you wonder if, in your (often) solo role as a leader of volunteers, that your struggles are not shared by your colleagues?
I’m talking about the BIG issues that you take on every day, the ones that affect your success on the job.
I’m talking about things like:
- Recruiting enough qualified volunteers
- Building a high-retention volunteer base
- Increasing co-worker acceptance of volunteers
Tobi Johnson, MA, CVA and Founder of VolunteerPro, is here to assure you that you are not alone.
After having conducted the VolunteerPro Volunteer Management Progress Report survey for three consecutive years, Tobi has identified some very consistent trends in our collective experience – including difficulties with volunteer recruitment, retention, and co-worker buy-in.
“In addition to the quantitative survey questions,” Tobi explains, “we always ask an important open-ended question: ‘What’s your number one biggest challenge as a leader of volunteers?’
“By far, the prevailing response is volunteer recruitment. Engaging enough volunteers to fill needed roles is cited as a…
How far can a volunteer’s experience reach? This leader of volunteers got curious
If someone asked you what’s so valuable about the volunteer role, what would you stress?
You might start by explaining how volunteers enhance the quality of life for clients, or how volunteers help deliver on the mission with a high return on investment.
Or, you might make the connection between strong volunteer relationships and financial giving.
Or, conversely ― you focus on the how the experience benefits the volunteers – about how they come to see your cause in a new light, or master a new skill, or achieve greater meaning and purpose in their lives.
That’s an impressive list of reasons to appreciate volunteers, for what they accomplish within an organization and the personal growth triggered by the experience.
But that’s not the end of the list.
There is another often-overlooked area where volunteers add value, and that’s when they spread the word about their volunteer experiences, and (intentionally or otherwise) increase the reach and visibility of the nonprofits they love.
Donna Finney, the Volunteer Services Manager for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (ISO), is keenly aware of this…
Your volunteers tell a compelling story. It’s time to share it.
If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you might think you’ve been switched to the ‘Volunteer Impact Channel.’ I’ve focused heavily on this question because strategic volunteer outcomes do the heavy lifting when it comes to volunteer program credibility. These metrics connect the dots in a concrete, data-driven way between organization’s mission and the value of your volunteer.
One thing, though ― for all of this emphasis, there is one important message that I want you to remember:
You don’t have to wait until you’ve created volunteer impact measures to start promoting your volunteer program.
If you’re not quite there yet – and I know many of you need to plan the process for a future time, you still have plenty of quality material to educate and inform Executive Directors, Board members, Corporations, Faith-based organizations – and even your volunteers.
And best of all, you can achieve this education by creating a document that is easy to access and full of great info:
You can create a Volunteer Management Annual Report
This report is very similar to an organizational annual report. It’s a summary…
It’s trickier than you think to describe impact – and that’s good
Every time I offer a volunteer impact measures training, I’m struck by some new takeaway the helps me better explain how to do master this complex-but-valuable process.
Today, my takeaway is this:
When you create impact measures on a matrix, one column stands out as the trickiest to complete – and probably the most important.
That column has to do with (drum roll, please)… Indicators.
Let me back up for a sec. Impact measures are created using a logic model. A logic model is a matrix that maps out all of the components needed to evaluate the effectiveness of a program.
The various columns within the matrix – the activities, the inputs, the outputs, the indicators, etc. – all of these pieces lead towards creating the outcomes you actually want. It’s the outcomes that demonstrate exactly what your volunteers accomplished that served your clients or delivered on your organization’s mission.
You can’t create relevant outcomes without putting a lot of consideration into your Indicators.
The Indicator describes what improvement looks like, so that you can set a quantifiable goal to work towards.
Here are some general examples…