Editor’s note: In honor of VM Summit 16, which is all about corporate/ nonprofit collaboration, this series of volunteerism-related blog posts will take one topic and explain how it’s relevant to both groups. Today’s topic? Metrics for success. Check out our other blog, Engaging Volunteers, for the same topic from the perspective of corporate volunteer program managers.
Last fall, we published a blog post discussing the importance of using both quantitative and qualitative reporting when it comes to evaluating your employee’s volunteer work.
Now, in honor of VM Summit 16, we’re diving a little deeper to help you assess all facets of your employee volunteer program. Why? To ensure that it’s built for success and allows your company to create real community impact.
If there’s one key takeaway from this post it’s this: evaluating your employee volunteer program begins by asking questions. I’m not referring to the questions you ask your employees — although that’s important, too. But rather, I’m referring to the questions you ask yourself. If you’ve ever asked, “How do I evaluate my employee volunteer program?,” here’s what you should do.
Determine Existing Metrics
The first question you should ask yourself is, “What components of my employee volunteer program am I currently measuring?” Commonly used key performance indicators (KPIs) for employee volunteer programs include (but are not limited to):
- Number of employees that participate,
- Hours volunteered per employee,
- Total hours volunteered,
- And employee engagement levels.
If you aren’t doing so already, a great way to evaluate success is to benchmark these quantitative metrics against the overall cost of running your employee volunteer program. According to Realized Worth, social return on investment (SROI) is a useful baseline from which to begin an analysis of your program’s success. If expenses are lower than your impact or desired outcome, then your program is more likely to be retentive and successful.
Look for Missed Opportunities
Once you’ve determined what you currently measure, start brainstorming for the things you can begin measuring. Look for any opportunities you might be missing. In this step, ask yourself, “What could I measure?”
With input from corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals and employee volunteer program managers over the years, we customized over 30 different pre-built reports on our volunteer management platform, YourMatch™, that help you determine:
- Popular causes at your company to help align your CSR vision,
- Employee skills utilized in volunteering,
- Employee volunteers by department and title,
- And more!
Curious how YourMatch™ can help track your volunteer program’s impact? Get in touch with us today!
Get really granular and determine which metrics are associated with the actual value of your employee’s volunteer work. You can always assess the broad “employee engagement”, but it’s critical to move beyond solely measuring engagement and assess other points of impact. For example, does volunteering increase your employee’ health, sense of contribution, and/ or place in the community?
Reflect on Metric Objectives
It’s equally important to ask yourself, “Why is what I’m measuring important in the first place?”
The information you gather should be able to tell a story. Knowing the number of backpacks full of school supplies your company prepared is great. What’s even better? Knowing the increase in school participation rates because students had the supplies they needed to excel (and wouldn’t have otherwise had access to).
Sometimes these numbers will be obvious, and can be simply reframed. For example, rather than recording the number of meals your company served at a soup kitchen, you could record the number of people who received a meal thanks to your employees. Other times, it may take a bit of follow up or research. To revisit the previous example, you’ll have to do a bit of digging to report that school attendance rates went up after your school supplies-initiative.
Remember: you’ll want to define your audience for the story. Whether it’s your senior leadership, nonprofit partners, employees, customers or all the above, it’s good to have an idea in mind of who will be reading this information, and how they’ll be reading it. You may even want to tailor the metrics you decide to share based on who you’re talking to.
It’s also important to reflect on if the system you set up is actually working. After establishing your initial employee volunteer program evaluation strategy, revisit your plan in 4-6 months and assess whether it’s still working for you. If not, don’t be afraid to implement any necessary program changes.
Execute Your Evaluation Strategy
Once you’ve determined your final set of benchmarks, you’ll need to figure out how to best obtain that information. A simple way to do so is by sending your employees a feedback survey or including relevant volunteer program feedback questions in your employee engagement survey. Create your own survey based on the benchmarks you’ve weighed as being important in assessing your program.
Not sure where to begin? Here’s how one organization successfully leverages a survey to solicit employee feedback.
You may also choose to ask your employees questions through a pulse survey before, during, and after their volunteer shift. Tip: brainstorm possible responses of what your employees might say so that you can be more prepared to hear them.
It’s equally as important to put your ear to the ground and listen to what your employees are saying about your volunteer program, as well as your community. Hold focus groups, conduct one-on-one interviews, and listen through the grapevine to determine qualitative feedback about your program.
Leverage YourMatch™ to help you calculate the number of hours your employees volunteer and the amount of money your company spends on your employee volunteering program, then benchmark those numbers against your company’s SROI and employee engagement rate.
And at VM Summit 16 this October, collaborate face-to-face with other like-minded corporate and nonprofit professionals on best practices for evaluating your employee volunteer program.
Ready to attend VM Summit 16? Purchase your ticket(s) here.
Have a question? Please contact VM Summit 16 Event Manager, Bree von Faith.