Volunteers give freely of their time and talent when they believe in the mission of your organization. They want to be engaged in worthwhile work that makes a tangible contribution. And, like everyone, they want to be appreciated.
How do you make them feel appreciated? One way is to ask for their feedback on your volunteer program and their experience working with your nonprofit.
Soliciting regular feedback from volunteers through surveys will help you figure out what you’re doing well and what needs to be improved to provide a better volunteer experience. Plus, focusing your survey questions on the volunteer’s experience can help keep them engaged with the organization.
This doesn’t have to be difficult. The best feedback surveys pose relevant questions that are easy to answer. You can begin with a volunteer survey template that already has standard questions, then customize it for your organization and your volunteers.
Here are some ideas for volunteer survey questions.
Evaluate the volunteer application process
Start asking for feedback when a volunteer signs up with your program. Find out about their application experience. Ask what motivated them to apply, how they found you, if applying was easy or difficult, and if they’d recommend your nonprofit to other potential volunteers.
These and similar questions will establish good communication with new volunteers and give you insight into how to improve volunteer recruitment.
Gauge the quality of volunteer training
Getting volunteers engaged with your mission begins with your training program. Volunteers will lose confidence if the training fails to give them what they need to do their jobs. They want to learn about the mission of the nonprofit, its vision for the community you serve, and how the work they’ll do fits in.
Ask questions like, “Did you understand the directions we gave you?” and “How well were you prepared for your volunteer position?” Ask if the training was adequate for the tasks they were given. Were training materials comprehensive or skimpy? Did the trainer give them clear instructions?
The answers to these questions will reveal gaps in your training and demonstrate to volunteers that you value their contributions.
Determine overall satisfaction
Gauging the overall satisfaction your volunteers have with your organization and their roles is the single most important metric. Volunteers typically don’t spend a lot of time in your office, so you need to make a systematic effort to find out what they’re thinking and if they’re satisfied with their experience.
Ask questions like, “How engaged do you feel with the organization?” and “Is the organization providing you with meaningful volunteer opportunities?” Ask how likely they are to continue volunteering with your organization. If they are likely to continue, ask if they would recommend volunteering to an interested friend. Naturally, if they say they aren’t likely to continue, ask why and what would change their minds.
Make it simple by allowing them to rate your organization on a scale of 1–10.
More than anything else, volunteer satisfaction hinges on the impact the volunteer thinks they’re making. Ask them to rate how meaningful the tasks they’re doing are to them and if they feel their work is having a positive effect.
The answers you receive to questions about overall satisfaction are sometimes hard to hear but essential to keeping your volunteers engaged and active.
Conduct surveys after events
Volunteers often show up for specific events, like a film screening or neighborhood cleanup, but otherwise aren’t in regular contact with the organization. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask them for feedback when their experience is fresh.
Ask how helpful the onsite staff was, whether they felt welcomed, and if they’d volunteer again. Include event-specific queries, such as if they felt there was enough staff and volunteer help or if the venue was appropriate. Surveying volunteers about their experience keeps them engaged. Your survey shows that their work is appreciated and that you value their insights.
Conducting volunteer surveys is an effective way to find out how volunteers perceive your nonprofit. A lot of templates have volunteer survey questions already, so it’s just a matter of tailoring the questions to your organization.
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