Volunteer Impact Reporting: Tips and Best Practices

It’s the time of year when nonprofits start compiling data for their annual impact reporting. We know it can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! We’ve got a breakdown for you of tips and best practices for how to create compelling impact reports for your volunteer program to share with your Board, community, volunteers, and your clients.

In this article we will go over a lot of useful tips for volunteer reporting.

But if you want more detail, we have a free workshop full of lessons and activities that you can apply to your specific organization.

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Why does volunteer impact reporting matter?

While many nonprofit reports detail impact outcomes for clients and finances in annual reports, don’t forget about your volunteers! They are a huge part of your programming, and volunteer impact moves the needle on your mission. Without them, many nonprofits don’t have the people-power they need to serve their communities.

Not only is volunteer impact a valuable section for any annual report, but it is also worthwhile to share this impact with your volunteers. They spend their time and energy supporting your cause, and it is rewarding to know that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Plus, the economic value of a volunteer hour in 2023 is $31.80, meaning that your volunteer program is worth a loooot.

What volunteer data to use in impact reports

Nonprofits can use whatever volunteer data is available to them. We recommend taking a look at the numbers you have, and seeing if there are other ways you can cut the data to get more nuance. See if you have any of the following data points to use:

Quantitative volunteer impact data

  • 📊 Total volunteer hours
    • + Breakdowns by quarter or month
  • ⏱ Average hours per volunteer
    • + Comparison to years past
  • 📈 Total number of volunteers
    • + Percent of new volunteers that joined this year
  • 💪 Total volunteer events hosted
    • + Attendance rates
  • 🤝 Total volunteer events co-hosted
    • + Number of event partners
  • 🔄 How many volunteers came to 2+ events (or any other metric)
    • + Average number of events attended by volunteers
  • 🙌 Top 5 volunteers based on total hours each
    • + Top volunteers based on event attendance (if different)
  • 👥 Group volunteer impact data
    • + Number of group volunteer partners (e.g., corporate and school groups)
  • 💰 Total economic value of volunteer program
    • + Average economic value per volunteer

If you’re looking for an all-in-one volunteer management solution that also includes robust automatic reporting features, look no further. POINT automatically tracks, aggregates, and segments volunteer impact data to make sure you’ve got all the numbers you need—just like magic.

But great impact reporting goes beyond numbers—it’s the narrative that brings the incredible contributions of volunteers to life, fostering a deeper connection with your organization’s mission. Reach out to your volunteers and ask for a couple of questions to get a story you can tell about their experience. Here are some suggestions for what to ask your volunteers:

Qualitative volunteer impact questions

  • What made you want to volunteer with us?
  • Tell us about a moment during your volunteer experience that had an impact on you.
  • How has volunteering with us benefitted you?
  • Describe the impact you feel you have through volunteering.
  • Have you volunteered in the past? What made you want to volunteer this year?

How to tell a story with volunteer data

Impact reports do more than just showcase achievements. They tell a story about why it matters. So how do you find a story within the data? First, having testimonies from volunteers helps give context and color to the numbers. And second, don’t try to force a story, just let it emerge. (I know, it’s vague, but that’s the art of storytelling.)

So how do you do that? Here’s a couple ideas:

  • 🔍 Look for any surprises in the data. Is there a number that is higher or lower than you thought it would be? What could contribute to that? There’s a story!
  • See what has changed over time. The world of volunteering has gone through quite a few changes since 2020. What is the data telling you about the future direction of your volunteer program? Where are there new challenges and wins? That’s another story.

Volunteer impact reporting for different audiences

Your annual impact report can and should be catered to your audience. They read it for different reasons and want different data highlighted. This doesn’t mean you need to write completely separate reports. Just tweak, add, or subtract depending on your audience.

Tailoring an impact report for your board:

Your Board is much more concerned about operations and financial stewardship. Be sure to include things like:

  • 💸 The economic value of your volunteer program
  • 🎁 Tangible impact that came out of your volunteer program such as hours served, community members reached, items distributed, etc.
  • 💰 Amount of donations from volunteers
  • 🤝 Impact of corporate volunteer programs or volunteer grants
  • 📊 Volunteer impact compared to the past year—especially highlighting areas of improvement
  • 🙌 Internal improvements to the volunteer program that increased efficiency or saved admin time

Crafting an impact report for volunteers

Overall, they really want to know how they contributed to the good you do in the community, and the impact that it had. Even better, they want to know their personal impact. But when writing a general impact report for volunteers, highlight things like:

  • 📊 Total volunteer hours
  • ⏱ Average hours per volunteer
  • 💰 Economic value of their volunteer hours
  • 🎁 Tangible impact that came out of their volunteer efforts, amount of items distributed, number of people reached, etc.
  • 💬 Stories about impact for both volunteers and your clients
  • 🙌 Any other progress towards your mission

Communicating impact to your clients and community

Your current and potential clients value hearing more about your organization’s impact and support. Plus the community at large also want to hear stories about how you are creating positive change. When communicating your impact to these audiences, include things like:

  • 💬 Stories about impact for both volunteers and your clients
  • 💪 Total volunteer events hosted
  • 💰 Economic value of volunteer hours
  • 🎁 Tangible impact that came out of their volunteer and organizational efforts, amount of items distributed, number of people reached, etc.
  • 🙌 Any other progress towards your mission

With any report going out to the community, keep it short, sweet, and highly visual. Bonus points if you make a shareable impact post for social media so people can help spread your mission further!

Thousands of nonprofits across the country use POINT to run their volunteer programs. Check out our features to see how we can support you. And while you’re at it, read about how we helped a local food access nonprofit scale up while saving time.

Make impact reporting super easy with POINT

We hope this article was helpful to you! Impact reporting can be a daunting task, but with the right guidance, solid data, and a dash of creativity, you can effectively communicate and showcase your impact.

If you are realizing that you need more support when it comes to tracking and reporting on volunteer data, POINT can help! We have the best free nonprofit management platform out there, with the option to upgrade to paid plans for even more features. However, every plan (yes, even free!) gets access to our automatic data tracking and reporting tools.

POINT exists to give nonprofits everything they need to amplify their impact. And, it means we are able to support the kicka$$ women out there making a difference in our communities. We would 🧡 to help your organization do more good!

Cheers to 2024 and all the good you did in 2023!

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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.