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.




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


  • 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