We all know that volunteer service makes our organizations tick! Small and large nonprofits alike feel the influence of volunteers on organizational success every single day. How are you tackling the challenge of translating those daily impressions to a quantifiable impact statement? Funders and organization leadership need this from you – and your volunteer team will benefit from understanding the value of their work. Here are some tips and tricks to make telling your impact story easy!
The gift of time.
The easiest way to quantify the impact of a volunteer is by tracking the hours that your volunteers give to the organization each year. I have seen this accomplished in many different ways – a small historic house museum asks their volunteers to sign in and out, a midsize youth services organization asks volunteers to self-disclose their hours on an annual survey, and my daughter’s school district has invested in volunteer management software with a badging system that allows volunteers to clock their time. The Value of Volunteer Time is made available and updated annually by a coalition of nonprofits - Independent Sector. The current value of each volunteer hour is $23.65! Plug your volunteer’s time into a calculator like this one offered by Points of Light – check out how you stack up, and be sure to share with your volunteer team!
Testimonials – in their own words.
An annual survey or interview program of your volunteer team will reveal invaluable details and trends about your volunteer program. Ensure that you provide an opportunity for open ended reflection – ask volunteers to share a moment when they felt they made an impact, and why they choose to volunteer with your organization. Quotes and testimonials can really add fuel to the volunteer recruitment and funding fire! Encourage participation in the survey by aligning it with something your volunteers already do like member registration or signing up for the annual dinner. If you have a slow season, consider phone calls to your volunteer team to gather feedback one on one. A prize drawing for all who participate can draw more responses as well!
Outputs – how many, how much?
Combine meaningful volunteer feedback with quantifiable output to drive home your volunteer impact message! In a 2014 survey conducted by a volunteer program consultancy firm, 98% of respondents rated output as the top measure of program impact! Tracking output is most successful when you take time to determine the current state before your program begins – for example, consider these 2 statements.
50 volunteers planted 100 trees over 2 weekends.
Prior to our program, this urban neighborhood suffered from a lack of natural areas – in fact there were fewer than 5 trees per square mile. That is 25% of the national rate for urban areas! This summer, 50 volunteers gave 500 hours to improve access to natural areas for residents. We were so excited to implement new partnerships with 3 new corporate volunteer programs – we already have plans to engage their employees in a follow up project next year. With donated materials totaling $5,000, and volunteer time worth $12,000 we were able to increase access to natural areas in this neighborhood by 500% Now, trees grow at the rate of 25 trees per square mile, and there are 5 new small natural areas to enjoy.
Want more information on developing your volunteer program impact statement? Check out Points of Light.
What’s your Return on Your Volunteer Investment?
Not sure? Calculate it here.