Evaluating Your Recruitment Plan
So you set a recruitment plan, and you followed it. But what do you do if you don’t reach your goals? No worries! That is what is so great about having a plan: it empowers you to improve through evaluation. Evaluating your recruitment plan helps to determine what worked well and what could be updated in the future. Nothing is ever perfect, and taking the initiative to redirect and/or change pieces of the plan may even be called . . . innovative.
When evaluating your recruitment plan, think of data and feedback.
Data is pretty straightforward, how many:
- New volunteers joined
- Volunteers stayed involved
- Spots were filled
- Volunteers showed up
- Board members
- Presentations were delivered
This data should be tracked in your VMS and easy to report.
Feedback is more nuanced and will need active listening with the removal of egos. We invest so much of ourselves into our work that when we hear what is initially considered negative feedback can feel like a personal attack. But consider instead, that not all feedback must be taken and implemented. Just because one person feels a part of the recruitment process needs to change, does not mean that everyone feels the same way. However, if you hear the same feedback from multiple people it might be time to take that into consideration. Also, consider that the feedback may actually make the recruitment process better from the perspective of those who you are looking to recruit. Improvement is great especially when you hear it from those you serve.
Ways to Get Feedback for Evaluating Your Recruitment Plan
There are multiple ways you can solicit feedback and providing choices is a great way to allow for different perspectives to be heard. Here we will address two methods – surveys and conversations.
The best time to ask a volunteer about their experience with your recruitment process is after their first shift. This allows for you to gain insight into the recruitment process, how their first volunteer experience went, and if they are interested in volunteering again. There are lots of survey tools out there for nonprofits, but rather than focus on the tools, let’s focus on how to structure a survey.
- Closed vs.Open-Ended Questions: for data that is easy to capture and analyze, closed-ended questions (for example, ones with multiple choices) are the way to go. Open-ended questions allow for the survey responder to add any additional information they would like to share. Open-ended questions take more time to analyze, so use them sparingly and with intentionality.
- Make Your Questions Neutral: meaning your opinion should not be in the question prompt. For example, “Our volunteer recruitment process is awesome! How awesome do you think it is?” versus “How was your experience with getting involved with the nonprofit’s volunteer opportunities?”
- Keep Multiple Choice Options Balanced: provide the opportunity to indicate the good and the bad. For example, Very Helpful – Helpful – Neither Helpful nor Unhelpful – Unhelpful – Very Unhelpful
- Ask One Thing At a Time: when asking questions don’t ask about more than one thing in a single question. For example, “How was your experience with signing up to volunteer and receiving training?” versus “How was your experience with signing up to volunteer?” AND “How was your experience with the training needed for volunteering?”
- If possible, let your questions be optional to answer and allow for anonymous responses with the option for volunteers to add their contact information if they would like you to follow up with them.
These could happen in the hallway, after an event, during orientation, and in so many other situations. If you find yourself in this situation, determine if the conversation is a short feedback session or if there is a need for a more in-depth conversation. Please schedule time with the volunteer if you need a more in-depth discussion. This will allow you to have uninterrupted time to really understand the feedback.
Taking Feedback and Survey Results Like a Pro
We recognize the thought of opening up to receive feedback can provoke feelings of anxiety and fear for some. The world is already complicated enough, don’t stop yourself from being a part of this important process for improvement. Receiving both positive and negative feedback is a good thing; it shows where things are going great and where things can be improved. When people are willing to give you this feedback, it shows that they are invested and want to see the program improve. If this is you, we have outlined some thoughts below for your consideration. If this is not you, you can skip ahead.
For Your Consideration
- Recognize good intentions – it is about making the recruitment process better, easier, or maybe even more accessible. The whole purpose of this stage of evaluating your recruitment plan is to improve so that you reach more volunteers, serve your community better, and build an environment where everyone can do more good.
- Actively listen – this is both a way of listening as well as a way of responding to another person with the ultimate goal of improving mutual understanding. Be present in the conversation, ask clarifying questions, and repeat what you hear to ensure understanding.
- Summarize the feedback – outline what you heard and ensure you have not missed anything. There is no need to commit to instituting the change, but there is a need to let your volunteers know what you will do with the feedback. Are you meeting with other volunteers to hear their perspectives? Is there a survey going out that will be compiled with the feedback? Let the volunteers know what your evaluation process looks like and how they will be made aware of the results.
- Be gracious – authentically. Share your gratitude for the volunteers’ willingness to share their perspectives with you. Let them know why it is important to hear from them and how you will use their feedback to improve (if you are able to).
- Follow-Up – show that you value their feedback by following up on any action items; this will even further deepen the relationship with volunteers as they become actively involved in improving the recruitment process.
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