by Leanna Joyner, Director, ATC's Volunteer Relations Program

Volunteer Management Best Practices: Evaluations

Speedy evaluations offer a lot of good information. Here’s how we have recently set up evaluations for ATC volunteer programming, as we aim to track our progress toward our goals of engaging new people, gauging the likelihood of their return, and potentially developing them as leaders. We’ve decided that these 3 simple questions offer the chance for us to make the biggest difference in our programming.

A Satisfaction Scale

A quick reaction to an experience is a telling way to judge participant satisfaction. A starring system, either 1-5, or 1-7 as we use, offer respondents speedy means of assessment. These speedy rating tools are commonly used by folks in the digital sphere to rate online purchases or overnight stays. It’s familiar and effective.

Being responsive to ratings is an important aspect of asking in the first place. Marketing wisdom tells us that those with bad experiences aren’t just unlikely to return, they’re most likely to share the word of their bad experience with others. Prompt follow-up to significant issues of concern related to poor experiences offers a means to correct issues and build a path forward for the participant’s continued engagement.

Likewise, top level ratings leave hosts elated and inspired to continue on with effective strategies. For all responses though, knowing the why behind the rating is key.

Explanation for the Rating

A sub-portion of the rating is to ask why the participant gave the rating they provided. This is the insight for moving from a moderate rating to a spectacular one. It’s the quickest way to ascertain trends in feedback, whether respondents overwhelmingly highlight limited snack options, seek a better understanding of some aspect of the activity, wanted or needed different kind of leadership, or simply loved every part of it. This is the place where genuine feelings on the experience shine.

The qualitative nature of the response offers hosts the chance to gain the most pure insight into participants’ experience and to divine the best steps needed to improve the next event of this kind.

Discovering Potential

Leaders lead, and participants with positive experience and potential often just need the invitation. So why not ask?

Asking for participant’s interest in becoming an activity leader helps host organizations figure out how best to cultivate interest, schedule upcoming leader-level trainings, and capitalize on the interest and passion of devotees of the experience. We framed our question simply “Rate your interest in becoming an activity leader,” and offer three options: “Interested,” “Not Interested,” and “Maybe Later.”

This question appears conditionally for events where leadership succession is most likely a need, but doesn’t show up when there isn’t a compatible need for the type of project the participant just joined.