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The Recruitment and Organization of Volunteers page and the Management & Supervision page have been merged into one new page. Everything from ideas to help you work more efficiently to the latest in research on keeping volunteers happy and productive, as well as ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

~ April 2008 ~

Volunteer Program Infrastructure:  Volunteer Evaluation, Recognition, Program Evaluation

The October 2007  and January-February 2008 issues of Volunteer Today carried articles in a series of assessments on volunteer program infrastructure.  The articles provided guidance on evaluating in the area of recruiting, screening, managing, and training.  Why is it important to regularly evaluate volunteer programs?  One study after another tells us that people are not thrilled about volunteering for organizations because of the type of work expected , the inability of the organization to tap into a person’s particular skills, or the lack of organization in the volunteer program. (“Great Expectations: Boomers and the Future of Volunteering,” VolunteerMatch, 2007).  This seems to indicate that the infrastructure of the volunteer program is in some way lacking.  No manager of volunteers is likely to knowingly turn someone off.  There is something in the “system” that is not working properly.  The following is the end of the series on infrastructure with an assessment checklist to review your program related to volunteer evaluation, recognition, and program evaluation.

Infrastructure Definitions

No matter how you slice it, having a framework or a structure, is essential to an organization, a program, or an event.  It applies to the city of St. Louis, and the volunteer program at the St. Louis Zoo equally.  And what volunteers are telling us in the VolunteerMatch study and in numerous other studies of volunteers is that the infrastructure for volunteer service is woefully lacking.  How so?
         Volunteers are treated in a casual, haphazard way when they arrive to serve.  Staff are openly dismissive of their efforts.  There is no flexibility in how the person can serve.  Tasks assigned are mind numbing busy work.  The most serious indictment is that a person calls or emails to volunteer and no one responds.  Surely that does not happen in your program!  How do you know?
         To understand how people are treated by others in the organization the manager of volunteers needs to make a special effort to get away from his/her desk and visit with those working in the organization.  A volunteer manager reported recently that once each month she works an evening shift and one Saturday or Sunday per month.  This is because volunteers are working at those times.  Wise woman, she is checking the infrastructure. 
         So what is the infrastructure needed that is related to volunteer evaluation, recognition, and program evaluation? In this issue of Volunteer Today we tackle those topics.

Evaluation of Volunteers

1.  There is an informal volunteer evaluation process to help volunteers improve their skills.

2.  Clients, members, patrons are contacted about the work of the volunteers.

3.  Staff or volunteer supervisors have the opportunity to provide information on volunteer performance.

4.  There is praise for duties carried out well.

5.  Some volunteers participate in a formal written evaluation.

6.  Supervisors are evaluated by volunteers.

7.  There is a record of all formal types of evaluations.

8.  Volunteers are rarely dismissed from the program.

Reward and Recognition

1.  There is a formal recognition program with named awards, and award nomination process, and volunteers making the decisions about who receives awards.

2.  The program overflows with informal ways of saying thank you to volunteers.

3.  All staff thank volunteers in informal ways.

4.  There is a record keeping system for the formal rewards and recognition presented

5.  Volunteers are recognized differently depending on such things as type of service and hours given.

Program Evaluation

1.  There is an advisory committee of volunteers and staff that oversees the entire volunteer program.

2.  The advisory committee evaluates all aspects of the volunteer program annually.

3.  There is an annual written report on the volunteer program that includes the following:

  • Statistics on the number of clients or members served
  • Statistics on the number of volunteers serving—head count and service count.
  • Value of volunteer service in $
  • Value of volunteer service in goals met, clients served, money raised, etc.
  • Narrative reports on different types of volunteer service given within the same organization.
  • List of goals/objectives set for the year and how they were accomplished.
  • Budget

4.  The annual volunteer report is shared with administrators and Boards as appropriate.

5.  Volunteers are mailed a copy of the Annual Report.

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Internet and Web Press Release

Do you use press release forms to send out information on your volunteer program or events and activities?  That is a staid old format meant for a world of newspapers and magazines.  It even worked, sorta, for TV and radio.  2008 has media that wasn’t a glimmer in 1995 (maybe some people had a glimmer!).  Here is a social media press release to try and move your information into the world of the Internet and Web.  It should be sent electronically to news outlets who provide information on the Internet or Web.


Internet and Web Press Release

Email Email
CONTACT Phone Phone
INFORMATION IM address IM address
  Web site Web site





Core News Facts
  • Bullets for easy reading
  • Quick facts on topic
  • Date, time, location, etc.
  • Keep it short


Internet and Web LInks
  • Give links to history, context, or background information, and your Web site





  • Links to online photos
  • Keep it active
  • Volunteers and clients voices and stories
  • Easily downloadable logos and/or charts
  • Brief views of events and /or volunteers


More Information

available on Internet or Web with listed link or URL

X More multi-media; PDF, white papers

X Quotes from volunteers, staff, clients

X Other events, volunteer opportunities

X Links to other coverage of the same topic

X Brief history and background of information on the program or organization

X How to get a "quote" on request



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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