Having been involved in volunteer management for a number of years, I was pleased to be invited to run a short training input for the newly-formed Volunteer Managers Forum in Midlothian.
The topic was how to measure the impact of volunteering. We began by discussing the importance of setting clear outcomes for volunteering programmes. This means thinking about volunteers not just as a resource, but about the powerful effects that volunteering can have on volunteers, for example increased connection to their community, improved health or increased employability. These outcomes can be broken down into simple indicators (or success measures) and volunteer managers can find straightforward ways to find out about these, for example at volunteer meetings or events. However we also talked about the usefulness of measuring the impact of volunteers on paid staff and the host organisation (for example, bringing new ideas, more diversity) and indeed the wider community. Feedback from Alison Rae, Volunteer Development Manager shows that Forum members now feel clearer about evaluating volunteering:
‘It was refreshing to have a session which focused on the volunteers’ outcomes and also to hear about the importance of measuring the impact of involving volunteers on service users and the organisation as a whole. The forum members were unanimous in agreeing that our next meeting should act as a follow up when we will use the meeting to share our own tools and tips on impact measurement.’