Using volunteer feedback to improve your organization

Using volunteer feedback to improve your organization

When you get feedback from your volunteers, it gives you a unique opportunity to improve your services

Blake Kohler
Blake Kohler
Co-Founder / CEO
Using volunteer feedback to improve your organization

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many nonprofit organizations. These volunteers will often be augmenting your services and can form your daily front line.

Because of the proximity to the services you offer, volunteers provide an excellent view of your organization's effectiveness. Their outside perspective, volunteers give you a unique opportunity to solicit feedback about ways your organization might more effectively service clients and make the volunteer experience more meaningful.

We've detailed four simple steps to make the most of volunteer feedback below. Following each stage will give your team many opportunities to engage, impress and improve.

Gathering feedback

The first step towards utilizing volunteer feedback is to gather it. Many organizations start by using pen and paper surveys to collect feedback. This tried and true method works wonders in smaller organizations, but as you grow, the scaling of this solution becomes a problem. Paper surveys often languish on employees' desks, waiting to be entered into an Excel spreadsheet. They're more likely to find the trashcan than eventually an executive desk.

When an organization is ready to take the next step in gathering feedback from volunteers, an automated feedback system using automatic surveys is the best choice. These surveys can be run online, over the phone, or even via self-service kiosks.

A hallmark of an excellent automatic feedback system is easy-to-use reports that do not require any data entry by yourself or your staff.

Regardless of the system you implement, the first step to gathering feedback from your volunteers is to step up a consistent approach by which they can give feedback.

Searching for and correcting issues

After establishing a feedback gathering process, the next step is to set aside time to review the feedback you've gathered.

Your goal in reviewing feedback is to find areas you can improve. Finding issues can be relatively easy or fairly tricky, depending on the feedback you get.

One way to help you find issues is by reviewing your feedback information as a team. By inviting other teammates, you can dig deeper into both the problems and possible solutions.

Closing the loop

After you've taken action to improve your organization, the next step is often the most overlooked - it's to close your feedback loop and let your volunteers know what you've done because of their feedback.

Closing your feedback loop with volunteers can be done in several different ways. Utilizing newsletters, posters, group meetings, or even simply writing messages on whiteboards around your facilities can help disseminate your actions for everyone to see.

This closing of the feedback loop will help people realize how seriously you treat the feedback they give. It will lead to better input and help build trust between your organization and the community.

Asking for help

The last tip or step we can share is to ask for help from your volunteers in correcting issues discovered via your feedback process. By inviting someone to give feedback and act as a part of the solution, you bind them to your group's success directly. They become more thoroughly a part of your team and an advocate for your cause.

By asking for their feedback, you show you respect their perspective. Asking for their help to address feedback shows you appreciate their talents and resources. This appreciation often leads to a willingness to continue to volunteer and donate.

Volunteers to Evangelists 

There you have it - four simple steps to utilizing volunteer feedback to improve your organization. Using feedback to improve can turn your volunteers into your greatest advocates and most constant and steady donors.

Creating an evangelistic style of advocacy that feedback loops create will often cause them to bring their friends and family (and their donation dollars) into the fold.