WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF EVALUATION
IN NONPROFIT AND VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS?
Administrators of volunteer programs are
urged to plan. Planning
starts with selecting a purpose. One way to make purpose selection
easy is to use one of the six standard purpose statements listed
below. Anything planned for or evaluated in a volunteer program
is represented in the list of six types of purpose statements.
Select the purpose statement that describes
best what you are trying to do: create a new program, evaluate
an existing program, try to determine the elements of a successful
program, and more. The purpose should be what you hope to achieve.
From that purpose statement comes the individual
goal (s) for what is to be addressed or evaluated. Never try to do two things
in one over arching goal. Better to have several goals that
are needed to carry out what is listed in your purpose statement. A
rule of thumb---one goal with no more than three objectives per individual
goal. Lots of action steps are ok.
Action plans are always related to a specific
examples in the chart below.
Standard Purposes to Evaluate Programs and People
to Decisions about Program Installation
Evaluation of the initial concept, assessment
of the frequency or intensity of needs, estimates of cost,
operational feasibility, demand, and support all are important precursors to
decisions about whether to implement a program and about size
and scope of installation.
To develop a social media method to increase pet adoptions.
Objectives would be related to assessing
what social media application lends itself to increasing pet
Action steps would be brainstorming ideas to increase
pet adoptions by using individual social media applications—Facebook,
Pinterest, MySpace,Twitter, etc.
2. To Contribute to Decisions about Program
Periodically it is important
to assess existing programs for modification.
It is important to note that if a program is cast in an unchangeable mold, you
are wasting your time seeking information to help make it better.
To assess the need for hospital greeters.
Objectives would relate to assessing
what this position is currently. Needs to continue might
be another objective.
Actions steps would include assessing
number of volunteers required, ability to fill all “shifts,” difficulty
in recruiting. Determining the need for volunteers in
3. To Contribute to Decisions about Program
Continuation or Expansion:
This goal is a summative. Investigations
under this goal may involve some of the same components as
investigations under the above goal.
After a program is operational, it is important to monitor the continuing need
for the program (think job description). Needs change or even go away. It
is important to assess costs as well as demand and support. If it is becoming
impossible to recruit volunteers to do a specific task, for example, a purpose
and goals can tell why and lead to decisions to discontinue this volunteer engagement
opportunity or drastically re-haul the volunteer recruiting efforts. Results
from such investigations need to be considered along with results of impact studies
(focusing on both intended and unintended outcomes) when making decisions about
program continuation or expansion.
To assess the overall quality of the park host position.
Objectives would be data on how many
visitors, how many hosts, number of host-visitor contacts,
quality and quantity of recruiting efforts, etc.
Action steps would include careful
study of data on the overall program, interviews with visitors,
hosts, and paid staff who supervise hosts.
4. To Obtain Evidence Favoring a Program to Rally Support,
or Obtain Evidence Against a Program to Rally Opposition
hese two potential goals(for and against)
are presented in recognition of the realities of program evaluation. There
are times when decision makers must rally opposition against
a program in order to eliminate it so that funds, time, and
other resources can be diverted to other more pressing things. In
addition, decision makers should be willing to entertain both
negative and positive evidence about a program’s effectiveness. Care
should be taken to ensure that data represents the total state
of affairs and not just a partial picture.
To obtain evidence why the “youth mentor” program
should be retained.
[There will likely be a second goal about “rallying” after
the evidence is obtained]
#1 Objective: To gather all evidence
(good and bad) on the impact of the “youth mentor” program #2 Objective: To organize evidence for distribution to
appropriate paid staff and the school board.
Action Steps: Review data on school
performance of all mentees before participation in the mentor
program and after a year in the program.
(There will be other action items.)
5. To Contribute to the Understanding of Basic
Pursuing the goal
of an evaluating the basic process can be helpful in any nonprofit
or volunteer program. Why does this specific program
work? (think theory). It is important to remember
that the central focus is always the program. A search
for understanding of basic processes can be a means to sharpen
the focus of an entire evaluation process.
To study the activities of “youth mentors” where
the student has made marked improvement.
#1 Objective: Recruit an intern
college student to design an observation process to assess
specific mentors. #2 Objective: Carry out an assessment of all mentors
including demographic information, and those with the best
returns in terms of student achievement.
Action Steps: Contact Professor
Jones in the Education Dept. to obtain a student intern who
is interested in developing an evaluation process of mentors.
(There will be other action steps.)
assess the efficacy of individuals working in a volunteer
Evaluation of volunteers or paid staff
working with volunteers is a healthy measure of a program. The
people doing the work for the member, client, or entity (a
park, museum) need to have the same scrutiny as the overall
program. The evaluation of individuals is always focused
on enhancing the health of the overall program by building
skills and capabilities in the volunteers doing the work.
To develop an individual evaluation process for volunteers
working in the volunteer docent program.
Objective: Create a committee of paid staff
in Collection Department and volunteer docents with range of
time served to develop a process to evaluate docent volunteers.
(There will be other objectives.)
Action Step: Ask your supervisor to discuss
allowing 2-3 staff to sit on Docent Evaluation Committee. Provide
In the day and age of multi-media; newspapers,
radio, Twitter, TV, Instagram, billboards, etc it is essential
to have a plan to attract specific audiences to volunteering. Reaching
teenagers is more than putting up a poster at the local high
school. Here are some tips.
Begin by having jobs that are meaningful and fun. This generation
of teenagers wants to have fun, same as earlier generations. However,
the millennial generation of teens wants work that is meaningful
with impact to better the world. Show how teens can use skills they already have. Many
teens have skills; computer, programming, data entry, online research, and
more. Be sure to help teens identify skills so their placement in the
organization utilizes what they know, while the teen has a chance to learn
new things. Show pictures of teens having fun. Make
sure the Web site has a specific location for teen volunteers. Get a
photo release form, signed by parent, when volunteers register and get a teen
to take lots of pictures. Change out the photos on a regular basis. Teens,
like their grown-up generational counterparts, want to see pictures of people
their own age doing the tasks the organization has in mind. Connect the volunteer job to practical school, career or college requirements. Get
a group of teen volunteers to work with you to identify how volunteering is
related to school assignments, job experience, or college applications. Have
a teen turn it into a flyer to include in recruiting packets and on your Facebook
or MySpace page. Colorful is good! List altruistic reasoning for volunteering. Altruism
is a key motivator for today’s youth. They are volunteering in
droves, forming their own nonprofit organizations to address serious issues,
and are more knowledgeable about world wide social problems than any generation
in history. Be sure to include information related to your mission in
any recruiting information. Don't be too frivolous. Teens like to be taken seriously. They
frequently know more than their elders on serious social issues. Never
patronize. Be quick to share information about the organization’s
mission and how volunteers are trying to address needs (human, animal, or arts). Kids
are less interested in “make-work” volunteering than in making
a substantial contribution. Stress individual values (Uniqueness.) Teens, like their adult
counterparts, have a wide range of motivations for volunteering—achievement,
influence, socialization, responsibility, school credit and so much more. In
talking with teens find out what he/she is interested in and portray the job
in those terms. This goes for wording on the Web site and Facebook page,
too. Not all jobs are suitable for teen volunteers. There
are some tasks in the organization that are not suitable for teens. All
jobs need to be analyzed for appropriateness for a teenager. Jobs can
be created where a teen is an aide to more seasoned volunteer. Teens
need to understand that their stay is short and some jobs require hours of
training and seasoning. Remember this teen grows up to be an adult who
might want to volunteer