How to Measure the Success of Your Volunteer Program

Guest post by Shawn Kendrick, VolunteerHub

How do you measure the success of your volunteer program?Key performance indicators, often referred to as KPIs, are an essential part of any nonprofit program. When chosen and tracked correctly, they can give us an at-a-glance look at a project or program’s performance. Think of your automobile’s dashboard, with all its gauges and indicator lights. These let you know if everything is OK or if you need to take action, like adding oil or stopping for gas.

KPIs for nonprofits work the same way. Some will tell you what kind of progress you’ve made, while others will alert you when you need to make a change. The specific data you choose is up to you. However, there are some basics to keep in mind when considering your mix.

Start with Statistics

KPIs generally revolve around quantitative measures. This makes comparisons easier and more objective. Just because numbers are involved, however, the measure doesn’t have to be a complicated one. In fact, the simpler the better.

Because these numbers will be a guiding light for everyone involved, you’ll want to use formulas that are as easy for line-level volunteers to understand as they are for executives. Stick with common concepts like averages and medians, so everyone is aware of what’s going on.

Review and Report

Depending on your situation, statistics could be assessed daily, weekly or monthly. However, in most instances, you don’t want to go more than a month.

After you’ve calculated them, the most important thing is to share your numbers on a regular basis. Those you supervise will have a concrete example of how their performance contributes to your organization. Those you report to will have tangible evidence that you are doing a good job or assurance that you are working to tweak things if necessary.

Some Specifics

Now that we’ve established some general guidelines, here is a list of some simple KPIs to get you started:


  1. Total number of volunteers
  2. Total volunteer hours used
  3. Average number of volunteers per event
  4. Average volunteer hours per event
  5. Monetary value of volunteer hours donated (assume approximately $20 hour)
  6. Number of paid staff hours saved by volunteer coverage

Return on Investment

  1. Monetary value of volunteer hours minus the cost to recruit and manage
  2. Revenue per event (net works better than gross)
  3. Average revenue earned per volunteer hour worked (net figures are best)
  4. Opportunity revenue (revenue generated by a paid staff member when a volunteer covers a staff member’s non-revenue producing task)

Keep in mind that these lists are very basic and far from exhaustive. Take some time to think about it, and we’re sure you can come up with ones that are relevant to your agency.

Remember that these indicators are your organization’s dashboard, so take an occasional glance from the road to make sure you have enough gas to get to your goal.

Does your organization already have pre-established KPIs for measuring volunteers or events? If so, post a reply to tell the world what works for your agency.

Shawn Kendrick writes for and holds an MBA from Ohio Dominican University. He has over a decade’s experience in the nonprofit and business sectors.