4 Best Practices for Collecting Volunteer Feedback

Collecting volunteer feedback is crucial to the long-term health of your organization. Nonprofits require effective and productive volunteers to ensure that they thrive and their programs serve their targeted audience. Volunteers carry out essential tasks and play important roles in helping nonprofits raise money and execute their missions. They assume important responsibilities that range from managing crucial events to creating marketing content for social media channels.

The value of volunteer contributions can be calculated in dollars and cents for nonprofits. The value of a volunteer hour for nonprofits is estimated at $31.80, according to the Independent Sector’s Value of Volunteer Time report. With so much value derived from volunteers, it’s important for your nonprofit’s long-term success to hone your strategy to recruit and retain them year after year.

4 best practices for collecting volunteer feedback

To do this, you’ll need to establish an effective strategy for collecting and acting on volunteer feedback by following these best practices:

  1. Leverage technology to collect volunteer feedback
  2. Be thoughtful about timing 
  3. Vary question types in volunteer feedback surveys
  4. Act on volunteer feedback

👩🏽‍💻 Leverage technology to collect volunteer feedback

Nonprofits often must operate on limited funds and staff resources, which is one reason volunteers are so valuable. That’s why it is important to leverage technology when possible to get the most out of precious dollars. Numerous tools make it easy for organizations to connect with supporters, from nonprofit payment processors to volunteer management software.

Volunteer management software, similar to donor management or membership software, contains a variety of features that can help your nonprofit engage with its volunteers, often including survey tools. With the right technology, nonprofits can create and automatically send surveys to volunteers at specified points in time.

👉 Read more about volunteer management

Why gathering volunteer feedback matters

These surveys are invaluable tools to assess the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s volunteer programs and the satisfaction of your volunteers. Feedback from these surveys helps your organization identify gaps in training, potential declines in volunteer satisfaction, and future needs of the program. 

Since different people have different motivations for volunteering, it’s also important to understand the interests and priorities of your specific volunteer base to know how to create experiences that resonate with them.

🤔 Be thoughtful about timing

For surveys to achieve the outcome nonprofits seek, they must adhere to the adage that timing is everything. When you ask for volunteer feedback at the right time, it increases the chances that volunteers will see it and feel inclined to share their thoughts. 

For example, volunteer feedback surveys sent by email on a Saturday morning are not likely to encourage engagement. Waiting two weeks after a scheduled program ends doesn’t take advantage of opinions and ideas formed immediately after volunteers have completed their work.

When planning to send out a volunteer feedback survey, consider these ideal times to ensure that your nonprofit will receive the most responses possible.

Onboarding 👋

The best time to gather information about volunteers, their skills, and their interests is during their onboarding experience with your nonprofit. This is also an excellent time to learn what inspired your volunteers to sign up with your organization, a valuable bit of information that can help you monitor their satisfaction later in their work for your nonprofit.

After an event 📅

Volunteers will have their most informed insights and opinions about your scheduled event immediately after they have completed their work there. Tap into those experiences right after the event ends so you can ensure that you will receive the most relevant and informed responses from your volunteers.

Annually ⏰ 

It’s good practice to routinely check in with your volunteers yearly to gauge their satisfaction and to identify potential problems that should be resolved in your volunteer program. This offers your nonprofit an opportunity to craft an action plan based on your volunteers’ responses for the coming year. 

The timing of your volunteer feedback survey will rely heavily on the purpose of the survey. For example, information that could be useful to your volunteer recruitment plan is best obtained early in your volunteers’ work with you, likely during onboarding. 

If your nonprofit is seeking insights into volunteers’ satisfaction with a scheduled event, a post-event survey immediately following it works best.

💬 Vary question types in volunteer feedback survey

Nonprofits get the most useful information and greater participation when they create surveys with questions that are relevant and easy to answer. Keep your volunteer survey short and avoid asking leading questions. This ensures that survey participants can be honest and open about their experiences with your nonprofit.

The types of questions included in your nonprofit’s survey will depend on the goal of your survey.

Here are some examples of questions you could ask to collect feedback from your volunteers:

Volunteer recruitment survey 🧲 

  • How did you learn about our nonprofit programs? 
  • What types of volunteer opportunities are you interested in?
  • How easy or hard is it to sign up to volunteer with us? 
  • What do you wish you knew about volunteering with us?

Volunteer satisfaction survey 😀

  • Is there anything you would change about your volunteer experience? 
  • How can we improve your volunteer experience?
  • How likely would you be to bring a friend with you to volunteer? 

Volunteer engagement survey ⭐

  • How can we make you feel more valued as a member of our nonprofit? 
  • How would you rate your volunteer training experience?
  • What skills would you like to develop while volunteering with us? 

Include a mixture of open-ended and closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions are good opportunities to allow volunteers to expand on a point, but closed-ended questions ensure you keep the survey focused on the insights you value most.

For example, ask your volunteers to rate their experience on a scale of one to 10, then provide a space for them to elaborate. This way, if a volunteer rates their experience a five and explains that they were a bit overwhelmed with helping out at your past conference, you can consider investing in a conference app or recruiting more volunteers for your next event.

🤝 Act on volunteer feedback

It’s not enough to just collect the insights. You must act on your volunteer feedback to make the effort worthwhile. It may not be possible to act on all their feedback, but you can identify consistent points and take steps to implement their suggestions. 

Show your volunteers that their feedback matters by sharing the results of your survey with them and the changes you made in response. By asking for, sharing, and incorporating volunteer feedback, you show them that they have a voice in the organization’s future and that you value their opinion. 

How you decide to communicate and share your volunteer survey feedback can also impact how it is received and understood. Some common methods of sharing volunteer survey results include:

Blog posts on your website ✍️ 

Your organization’s website is an effective way to offer summary feedback in one place that can be read by a larger audience of internal and external readers. It also serves as a way to demonstrate to prospective volunteers that they can make a difference in your organization. 

Social media posts 📲 

If you prefer to offer short highlights that reference key insights from your survey, social media posts provide a format that can help inform your volunteers and promote your organization on a respected channel. 

Your email newsletter 💌 

You can communicate the results of your volunteer feedback survey to a more targeted audience by including information about it in a newsletter. This format allows you to provide a summary of results with an invitation to readers to find more detailed information on your website. 

The feedback you get from volunteer surveys will give your organization insights to help improve and grow, increasing volunteer engagement and productivity. When volunteers feel engaged and productive, they are more likely to continue volunteering with your nonprofit and may consider bigger roles.

Your volunteers bring great value to your nonprofit through their hard work and commitment. Their experience dictates how successful your organization will be in fulfilling its mission, so their feedback is critical to your success. It’s essential for nonprofits to frequently thank volunteers for both their support and survey responses to build strong, lasting relationships with them. 

POINT’s volunteer management platform makes this easy. Explore our best-in-class volunteer management features, or join POINT for free! 

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Photo Lindsey Schad
Lindsey Schad
Head of Communication Team

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.