Tools for evaluation

How you gather feedback to inform your evaluation will be determined by a number of factors, including -

  • How many volunteers you have
  • How long they stay with you
  • How often you see them face:face
  • Any support needs they might have
  • What kind of information you want

Use methods that are appropriate for your volunteers and your project.  The following table lists some common methods to choose from.

Method

Advantages

Disadvantages

Volunteer questionnaires


  • Can be completed in private
  • Large numbers can be distributed using email and post
  • Can incorporate a variety of questions including tick box Yes/No answers and those more open in style
  • Often have a low response rate
  • Not good for volunteers with low literacy skills
  • Can tend to reveal superficial information rather then in depth views

Online Survey (eg Survey Monkey

  • As above
  • Free (at a basic level)
  • Professional appearance


  • As above
  • Only useful if you are sure all volunteers have internet access

Focus Group

  • Can be useful for getting a range of views
  • May not be a typical group as only those who are confident may take part or contribute
  • Needs a facilitator and prepared questions

1:1 interview surveys

  • Good response rate
  • Good for volunteers with low literacy skills or fear of bureaucratic form filling
  • Allows in-depth discussion
  • Expensive in interview time
  • Will need to limit to a sample of volunteers if organisation has a large number volunteering with them

Video

  • Good for "a day in the life of..." style presentations
  • Not dependant on literacy skills
  • Can involve volunteers in operating the equipment
  • Some people are camera shy
  • Can be intrusive
  • May end up with large amounts of unedited material that is difficult to interpret
  • Technical quality may be poor


Written diaries

  • Can provide evidence of change over a given time


  • Needs clear structure to obtain the right kind of information

Suggestions and complaints boxes

  • Easy to organise
  • Good for demonstrating commitment to obtaining volunteers' views
  • Comments can be anonymous
  • Comments may be very wide ranging and difficult to interpret
  • Often have poor response rate

Feedback forms

  • Useful after volunteer events or training
  • Can be intimidating
  • Need to structure time for completion into the session

Exit interviews/questionnaires

  • Essential to allow volunteers opportunity to feedback on their experience