How to Increase the ROI of Your Volunteer Program with Continuous Improvement
Posted Thursday, March 29th, 2018 by Sterling Volunteers and VolunteerPro Staff
Sterling Volunteers is pleased to announce our new partnership with VolunteerPro, an organization which provides online volunteer management training, coaching and an online community to volunteer leaders. VolunteerPro shares “research and best practices and emerging innovations in volunteer management, all based on engaging today’s volunteers”.
Both VolunteerPro and Sterling Volunteers support a high quality, effective and ethical approach to volunteer coordination. Through this partnership, we can help organizations follow the most up-to-date practices in the field and take the necessary steps to safeguard your assets, reputation and the dedicated people you serve.
VolunteerPro offers a variety of advice on volunteer management topics, from how to cultivate volunteer leadership, to volunteer team productivity and management. One such topic, which is near and dear to any volunteer manager’s heart, is proving the value of their volunteer program to help increase funding.
Prove the Value of Volunteer Programs
According to Volunteer Pro’s Volunteer Management Progress Report, about one-third of nonprofits have annual budgets of $1-5,000 for their volunteer programs and six percent have no budget at all. So, how can volunteer organizations get more money? According to Volunteer Pro, “By demonstrating that the initial investment had a return both now (in terms of addressing an identified need) and into the future (in terms of key insights that can improve future project spending), leaders of volunteers can show they are adept and proactive stewards of funds”.
The Culture of Continuous Improvement to Drive ROI
Understanding volunteer ROI allows volunteer managers to assess their organization’s assets, justify their investments, and demonstrate the effective use of contributions to executives. Being on top of these numbers can be a challenge, but it can be done by incorporating continuous improvement programs. VolunteerPro explains, “Continuous improvement involves feedback (self-reflection about processes), efficiency (the identification, reduction, and elimination of things that don’t work and the promotion of things that do), and evolution (making consistent, incremental steps forward rather than giant leaps)”.
One step in continuous improvement is reviewing all your organization’s activities. Take the findings from the review and implement them in upcoming volunteer projects, such as special events. The information learned from the reviews is a way to continuously improve and evolve the volunteer program.
To start off the continuous review process, make sure you have specific goals and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in place to match the program’s performance. Include volunteers in creating the performance indicators and how the measures are tracked.
Another tool to help you look at the true value of the volunteer program is an ROI calculator. The return of volunteer investment found using the calculator can be used to help secure more financial support from funders, foundations, partners and stakeholders.
VolunteerPro sums up why having the right measures in place and continually reviewing them helps prove the value of a volunteer program: “By setting goals, reflecting on results, setting a plan to improve next time, and communicating evolving insights to those who appropriate budgets, you can set the table for future funding. You will send a powerful signal to those who hold the purse strings that you have a legacy of insights to share and are worth “betting on” again”.