1) Determine Why Your Organization Needs Evaluation
It can feel awkward to ask someone who is already giving up their time and energy to help you to complete a volunteer evaluation. If not explained appropriately, the volunteer may feel as though they aren’t trusted by the organization or their performance has been deemed subpar. However, evaluating your volunteer force can be an incredibly useful way to:
- Better assess the strengths and weaknesses of volunteers
- Identify ways in which the organization can better leverage volunteers to improve community impact
- Obtain much-needed feedback from volunteers and pinpoint areas in which the nonprofit could improve the volunteer experience
- Gain additional insight into how supervisors are performing their duties
- Protect high standards and ensure that the care being delivered to beneficiaries by both staff members and volunteers is excellent
Even when the need for evaluation is recognized, it can be difficult to determine how best to approach the assessment. How are the volunteer’s contributions, strengths/weaknesses, and feedback best captured? The blog post from Restore Strategies below describes of the five most common types of volunteer evaluation and strategies for implementing them:
2) Evaluate Volunteers – Formally and Informally
Evaluations don’t always have to be formal in nature – in fact, members of your staff should be conducting information evaluations all the time. These typically take the form of conversational check-ins and are more organic in nature. During these times, supervisors should ask about the following topics:
- How do they find the nature and difficulty level of the work?
- Do they consider the written job description to accurately capture the nature of the work being performed?
- What needs have they seen in clients/beneficiaries that aren’t being met?
- How do they believe the organization could better meet these needs?
- Do they feel they have all of the necessary tools, skills, and resources needed to do the task(s) well?
- How could the organization improve their experience as a volunteer?
- What do they enjoy most/least about the work?
- Would they recommend volunteering with the organization to a friend or family member? Why/why not?
The list of questions asked during an informal check-in are unlikely to be exhaustive, but they can give staff members some insight into their own performance and the needs of those serving alongside them. The article from the Minnesota Literacy Council below elaborates upon this type of informal evaluation as well as other helpful tips as you begin to think through building or improving your volunteer evaluation process: