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Demonstrating the Impact of Your Volunteer Program

Demonstrating the overall impact and value of your volunteer program can be one of the more difficult aspects of volunteer management. It is also extremely important. Demonstrating impact helps to:

  • Build support and recognition in your community
  • Recruit capable volunteers and staff members
  • Attract the attention of potential funders
  • Maintain strong relationships with current funders

Evaluating and reporting are essential to maintaining and improving a program and demonstrating overall impact - and to attracting funding to support volunteer programs.

The UPS Foundation provides this Guide to Investing in Volunteer Resource Management which can help you think through what funders might be interested in supporting and what information they would want about program effectiveness. The more you can demonstrate that your program is making an impact, the more likely funders are to support your organization in its mission.

So, how do you demonstrate impact of you volunteer program?

Start with the basics. Keep organized records of volunteer activity. This starts with the simple task of keeping track of volunteer hours. Use an easy-to-understand, easy-to-fill time sheet, and make sure your volunteers are using it. Here is another sample time sheet.

Did you know that the estimated value of volunteer time in 2015 was $23.56 per hour? Having the dollar value of your volunteers’ work handy can go a long way toward demonstrating your program’s value and impact. Read more about how the dollar amount of volunteer time is calculated in this article Independent Sector's Value of Volunteer Time, from Independent Sector’s website.

For a more specific calculation of the value of your volunteer's time, try this tool that includes a worksheet that uses average wage information for various types of activities to produce a more accurate valuation of volunteer time.

Keeping accurate records can provide you with other metrics as well. Here are some examples of things you can cite as evidence of your volunteers’ overall impact:

  • The number of families housed through your shelter program
  • The number of hot meals served by your volunteers
  • The number of children tutored in your after school program

If your organization is not providing direct service it can be a bit more difficult to quantify your volunteers’ impact. One strategy is to use anecdotal evidence such as quotes and great stories about the work your volunteers are doing.  Here is an example of a results sheet that demonstrates the impact of the Volunteer Impact Program (VIP), now known as VIP 360, compiled by the United Way of King County.  Notice its use of stories and quotes, as well as numbers-based data.

Volunteer surveys

To get valuable information about how your volunteer programs are working and what impact they are making, simply ask! Create an evaluation survey to distribute to your clients after projects have been completed. Ask them to rate the quality of the service they received and leave room for additional comments. The results can be eye-opening.  For example “90% of clients rated their experience as excellent”. Take a look at these examples:

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