Evaluating volunteer engagement is crucial to understanding how your team’s situation is currently tracking, celebrating achievements and identifying areas that require improvement. This is the time to look at the big picture of how your volunteers, your staff and programs are doing. It is also necessary to listen to your volunteers’ evaluation of their experience with us.
Volunteer evaluation is an ongoing aspect of healthy volunteer involvement and includes the key elements discussed on this page:
1. Managing Performance
2. Ongoing Volunteer Evaluation
3. Ongoing Staff Evaluation
4. Exiting Volunteer Process
In evaluating a volunteer’s performance, consider both the WHAT and the HOW. Is the volunteer fulfilling the tasks of their role and is their behaviour reflective of The Salvation Army values and policies? The answers to these types of questions will inform your evaluation, but how you manage this performance should be directed by WHY the volunteer is performing well or poorly.
Consider whether your volunteers are performing:
a) Above the line – Is their performance exceeding expectations?
b) On the line – Are they simply meeting expectations?
c) Below the line – Is there a gap in their performance?
Performance management is about people and requires a balance between compassion and accountability. Be clear on performance expectations. Your responsibility is to identify the root reason the volunteer is falling into one of the above categories. If they are exceeding expectations, acknowledge that. If they are unable to meet expectations, take appropriate action, professionally, creatively and compassionately.
Ongoing Volunteer Evaluation
Ongoing volunteer evaluation is based on reciprocal communication. Most volunteers want the opportunity to provide you with feedback. How often you give and collect feedback is up to you, but make sure to be clear from the onset that there will be an opportunity for their voice to be heard. Set an expectation of how frequently this will occur with your volunteers.
Be open and supportive of the feedback you receive. Not all needs can be met but all opinions can be heard.
- Schedule regular catch-ups with your volunteers, whether they are informal or formal.
- Listen to your volunteers, identify needs and do your best to respond and meet expectations.
Ongoing Staff Evaluation
For a positive culture within your ministry unit/corps, staff must be actively involved in volunteer engagement. Create a space and opportunity for staff to both voice concerns and celebrate volunteer involvement. You may want to incorporate questions about volunteer engagement into an employee’s performance appraisal or as a regular discussion item in staff meetings.
- Schedule regular catch-ups with your staff, whether they are informal or formal.
- Listen to your staff, identify needs and do your best to respond and meet expectations.
Exiting Volunteer Process
Many volunteers walk away from their positions because they just don’t have the time. For others, it may be that the experience was not what they were expecting or did not meet their needs in some way.
It is important that we receive honest feedback from our volunteers who are ending their service with us. We must do our best to make volunteering feel like a blessing and not a burden.
While volunteer roles can be varied, the following volunteer exit process to fits well across positions.
- Thank them for their contributions to our mission.
- Have an open discussion regarding their experience. If a volunteer is having issues, others may be feeling the same way.
- Ideally, have the volunteer complete an exit survey. At a minimum, have a meeting with them to discuss their reason for leaving.
- Evaluate and make any changes necessary.
Efforts to evaluate your volunteers’ performance and share those results show that you care about your volunteers and the quality of their work. Consider structuring the evaluation to include a review of past performance, present performance, and plans for moving forward. The evaluation should be based specifically on the role description making this the perfect time to review the volunteer’s role description to see if it correctly describes his or her work.
For this stage, consider the following:
Are goals established for volunteer involvement?
Do you use multiple approaches for volunteer recruitment to source the most appropriate person for each role?
Do you have a consistent recruitment interview process?
Are criminal background checks undertaken when required?
Are volunteers provided with a role description and a Volunteer Handbook?
Are volunteers’ details captured and recorded?
Are volunteers provided with orientation and training?
Are volunteers involved in decision-making processes, such as being included in staff meetings?
Are volunteers involved in program and service evaluations?
Do volunteers have access to policies and procedures? Do they know they have access? How do they know?
Are volunteer hours recorded?
Are volunteer contributions recognized informally and formally through events and certificates?
Do you record your volunteer retention rate? Have you noticed any changes in retention as you increase volunteer processes?
Do you record expenses for volunteer engagement? For example, costs for recognition activities.
Are there defined avenues/opportunities for volunteers to give feedback about their involvement?
Are there ways for everyone to provide feedback on volunteer involvement? Paid staff? Clients/community?
Do you have a plan to improve volunteer engagement?
Do you seek support from your divisional headquarters or territorial headquarters?
The goal of evaluation is to provide useful information that will assist you in future decision-making. The more strategic and systematic you are in your evaluation process, the easier it will be to spot effective activities and achievements as well as areas in need of improvement. In addition, demonstrating to the volunteers that their role is taken seriously will motivate them to do the same.
Please click on the links below to access the files for each Behind the Shield resource. All resources are available in both French and English. For some of these resources, we have created a version that can be printed on any printer you have access to and a version that should be used if you are outsourcing to a print house. Please read the file names carefully and choose the resource that best suits your needs.
Evaluation and Performance Review:
- Volunteer Evaluation Feedback Questions EN
- Volunteer Evaluation Feedback Questions FR
- Volunteer Performance Review EN
- Volunteer Performance Review FR
- Volunteer Exit Survey EN
- Volunteer Exit Survey FR (Coming Soon!)
- Volunteer Exit Checklist EN
- Volunteer Exit Checklist FR
- Thank you for volunteering EN (Post-Volunteer)
- Thank you for volunteering FR (Post-Volunteer)
- Would You Volunteer Again EN
- Would You Volunteer Again FR
- Volunteer Files for Salvation Army Records EN (Coming Soon!)
- Volunteer Files for Salvation Army Records FR (Coming Soon!)