Your volunteer base is the engine that drives your cause forward. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to reach as many beneficiaries or complete the tasks that make positive change happen.
Many of your volunteers could likely recite your mission back to front, and probably a few have been rallying for your cause since before you can remember. But how well do you know them and their commitment to your cause? Aside from managing your volunteers during regular day-to-day activities, could you give a data-backed description of volunteer performance? Or, be able to forecast your volunteer recruitment numbers for next year?
While you can’t tell the future, you can reference your data to uncover critical insights about your volunteer program. That’s why we’ve written this guide—to give you three reliable metrics to check your volunteer program’s overall performance. Let’s jump in!
Volunteer Recruitment Metrics
These measurements help you better understand who is joining your cause, how many supporters are consistently signing up, and how effective the onboarding process is. Tracking data points can help you sufficiently allocate resources to either increase recruitment marketing or pull back and lean into improved retention strategies.
You might be able to give an answer for how many volunteers you think you need, but looking at metrics like these can reveal trends in your recruitment performance over the years. For example, if you notice a consistent dip in volunteer interest during certain seasons, you can adjust your fundraising event schedule to times when volunteer recruitment needs are low.
When reviewing your recruitment data, here are some metrics to keep in mind:
- Acquisition rate. Broadly, this refers to the rate at which new volunteers are recruited. Determining your recruitment strategies’ effectiveness is crucial to see if you need to adjust your outreach methods for enhanced results.
- Demographics. This describes the age, ethnicity, gender, and location of your volunteers, helping you understand your target volunteer base and align your recruitment strategies to appeal to this audience.
- Time-to-onboarding. This rate measures how quickly a volunteer can become a fully competent volunteer familiar with your mission and their role. Nonprofits with shorter time-to-onboarding rates can improve volunteer satisfaction and engagement.
- Volunteer source. This metric describes how volunteers discover your volunteer program. Referrals, Google Ads, and community events are all volunteer sources that can help you understand how volunteers are finding out about your organization. Tracking this metric lets you prioritize the marketing channels that yield the highest results.
Your volunteer source is especially important to help you structure your recruitment efforts. For instance, if referrals are a consistent source of new volunteers, you can look deeper into where your volunteers work and offer partnership opportunities with that company.
Funds2Orgs’ guide to volunteer recruitment suggests strengthening your connections with your volunteers’ employers by suggesting other mutually beneficial CSR opportunities. This could include programs like volunteer grants, which enhance the company’s reputation and give back to your nonprofit.
Volunteer Engagement Metrics
Keeping track of your volunteer engagement metrics is essential for understanding how well your nonprofit meets volunteer needs and expectations.
Your volunteer base’s sense of loyalty and motivation can affect both the quantity and quality of your nonprofit work. Engaged volunteers can bring new energy and enthusiasm into your operations, inspiring others to get involved.
Here are measures you can rely on to communicate your volunteer engagement levels:
- Retention rate. This measures the percentage of volunteers who stay involved year after year. A nonprofit with steady volunteer retention levels may not need as much time and funding for recruitment as its current volunteer base meets its needs.
- Turnover rate. The opposite of retention rate, turnover measures the percentage of volunteers who leave your nonprofit over time. High turnover rates can indicate poor volunteer management or unmet expectations.
- Hours and task completion rate. These practical metrics describe how productive your volunteers are in your everyday activities.
- Satisfaction rate. Satisfaction rate can be assessed through surveys and in-person feedback from current volunteers. It measures whether current volunteers feel fulfilled, motivated, and appreciated.
If you find any of your engagement metrics lacking, it could be a sign that your volunteers feel demotivated or unappreciated. Follow up with current volunteers to get their perspective and confirm. If you find yourself in this situation, Fundraising Letters’ appreciation guide suggests sending personalized notes, inexpensive gifts, or invitations to informal events to express gratitude. Small gestures can go a long way in engaging volunteers to keep up the good work!
Volunteer Impact Metrics
Impact metrics indicate the long-term change your organization has created due to its volunteer program. Measures like these can take a while to build up, but once you’ve curated a list, you can feel confident that your volunteers are generating positive community impact. Impact measures can also be more nuanced, which is why it’s best to separate them into qualitative and quantitative categories.
Qualitative volunteer impact measures the quality of a volunteer’s work over time and is often reflected in measures such as:
- Level and value of community outreach
- Client or beneficiary feedback
- Volunteer-driven innovations
- Volunteer stories and testimonials
- Volunteer growth and development
On the other hand, quantitative measures are more straightforward and take into account numerical values associated with a volunteer’s work, such as:
- Total beneficiaries served
- Project milestones
- Cost savings
- Funds raised
- Goods or services distributed
By reviewing the above metrics simultaneously, you can better understand the quality and quantity of your volunteer hours. Of course, each nonprofit will have different metrics that they emphasize more, but ideally, qualitative and quantitative measures should reflect positively on your volunteers.
Regularly track and update volunteer metrics to get a bird’s-eye view of your program’s performance. The more data you collect (both qualitative and quantitative), the better understanding you’ll have of your volunteer base needs.
Then, contextualize your findings to spot overarching trends that can inform your volunteer recruitment and retention strategies. You can do this by asking questions such as:
- Which volunteer recruitment channels are most effective?
- How does volunteer engagement frequency vary by role, season, or project?
- Are there any surprising retention or satisfaction trends in the data?
- Have changes in volunteer management, training, or onboarding affected satisfaction?
By digging deeper into your data, you can proactively address concerns. Simple adjustments in volunteer appreciation programs, onboarding resources, or role reassignments can help ensure all volunteers feel valued and motivated by your organization.