In the summer of 2015, VolunteerMatch launched the Volunteer Program Improvement Tool for hunger-fighting* organizations. Our intention? To create something that volunteer program managers could use to take their programs to the next level.
Since that summer, over 500 hunger-fighting rockstars have used the tool to get personalized resources to improve volunteer engagement practices at their respective organizations.
But there’s a side effect. (Don’t worry, it’s good.)
Having 500+ volunteer managers answer questions about their programs supplied VolunteerMatch with a delightful amount of data on the state of volunteer engagement at hunger-fighting organizations. Besides being super interesting, this data can be beneficial to volunteer managers.
Why? By knowing where your program falls in relation to other, similar programs, you’ll be equipped with knowledge to effectively advocate for your program’s growth.
Let’s start by diving deeper into how the tool works.
The tool assesses your program in 6 categories of volunteer engagement:
- Management Support
- Program Infrastructure
- Recruitment, Screening, and Placement
- Management, Recognition, and Evaluation
- Community Outreach
In each of these six categories, your program will fall into one of five levels, based on your responses. Think of it as a 1-5 scale of how established and effective your program is, with “Ad Hoc” being “1. Just getting started” and Optimized being “5. Practically perfect in every way”.
- Ad Hoc
So where did our tool-takers fall on this scale?
As you can see, the majority of tool takers are in the “ad hoc” stages. Even though this is the introductory stage, we don’t see it as a negative thing.
Why? Well, what our results don’t show is supplemental information on the organizations who used the tool. For example, organizations that are already rocking it might be less inclined to use a tool that’s all about improvement. Our stats do tell us that there’s a correlation between the average number of volunteers an organization engages per year and high scores.
Furthermore, our stats show us that there’s a huge opportunity for growth. And that’s exciting! After using the tool, folks have the chance to take those personalized resources and action steps they receive and turn them into real progress for their volunteer program.
Keep in mind that the above chart looks at averages across all six categories. Curious which categories hunger-fighting organizations are the most effective?
Overall, it looks like hunger-fighting volunteer managers are doing the best at “strategy”. Strategy basically means looking at the long-term impact of your volunteer program, instead of solely focusing on the here and now. Well done!
The most room for improvement lies in “community outreach”. This means having a solid communication plan in place to attract new volunteers and gain outside support for your program.
I’ve saved the best part for last: This tool was intentionally designed to be re-taken as your volunteer program evolves and grows. So, if you already used the tool, take it again to see if your results have changed. And if you’re part of a hunger-fighting nonprofit and haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for? Access the tool now.
*You may be wondering, “Why hunger organizations?” VolunteerMatch developed this tool as part of a collaboration with Hunger Volunteer Connection.