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Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

~ June 2007 ~ Topics

Keys To Volunteer Evaluation
PR Is Not Selling-Selling Is Not PR

Keys To Volunteer Evaluation

All volunteers deserve feedback on their contribution. Most want to know if what he/she did was helpful to the organization and its members or clients. For episodic volunteers of the temporary variety, evaluation comes as the work is being done, rather than after-the-fact. But volunteers providing longer service need to hear from the supervisor about his/her performance. For many managers of volunteer this means training other volunteers, who act in a supervisory capacity, or paid staff on how to be an effective evaluator. Here are some tips on teaching others how to be effective. If you are the one doing the evaluating, use it as a checklist.

  • No surprises. If the evaluation comes at the end of the year, then there should be no surprises. Anything that needs correction should be addressed immediately. Do not wait for a formal evaluation period.
  • If there is a formal evaluation process, and for many positions there should be, do it privately. Find a quiet place with no interruptions to talk about how the volunteer feels he/she is doing and your assessment of that.
  • Preparation, preparation. Sit down and think about the conversation before having it. Organize an approach, write it down. Know your own strengths and weaknesses in presenting this type of evaluation.
  • Be specific. Be sure to give examples of appropriate skills or behavior and the same for corrective activities. Do not be vague. "This happened and it would have been an improvement if it had been done like this."
  • Build your evaluation around input from the volunteer. "How do you think things are going where you provide service? How would you assess your own performance in this service?" Most people are harder on themselves than you are likely to be. It is possible that the supervisor's comments can work into what the volunteer leads with.
  • Set some goals. If there are problems, explore how to get them righted. Set goals and a timetable for check in. This might mean the supervisor setting up a mentor relationship with another volunteer or doing extra training and monitoring.

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PR Is Not Selling-Selling Is Not PR

Coordinators or directors of volunteer programs are frequently asked to speak about their organization and the service provided. This is a public relations (PR) opportunity. Concentrating on "selling" the group on volunteering might be more damaging than you think. People in the group have an expectation of learning about the organization, its mission, how it is achieving that mission, and heartwarming stories about success. Most already know there are opportunities to volunteer. Mentioning volunteer opportunities, briefly, and having print material available is as far as the "sales pitch" should go. Here are some tips on doing PR, not sales.

If you are dealing with the media or the media is covering the event where you are speaking, understand their role. No reporter is going to be a billboard for your program. If you have an interesting story to tell the reporter can maximize the exposure for your entire program and that makes recruiting easier.

Limit data provided. Statistics and numbers only mean something if you connect them to the mission and services of the organization. People often glaze over when the details are too elaborate, and that leads to misunderstanding and misquoting.

When people ask questions, do not get distracted from your agenda. If your goal is to present information on a specific project or event and someone asks a provocative question, offer to answer as a sidebar, because you want to concentrate on the focus of the reason for your visit.

Never speak negatively of anyone or anything in the organization. If there have been problems, be sure to practice techniques to answer without being negative or defensive.

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Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Episodic Volunteering: Organizing and Managing the Short-Term Volunteer Program, (now available in downloadable PDF format) by Nancy Macduff and The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions, by Mary Kay Hood.

Details for Episodic Volunteering Book Details for One Minute Answer Book


The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future. The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, call 202-729-8000.


By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center. This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

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