Your volunteer program has been operating for a while now, and your volunteers seem engaged, happy, and productive. But how can you know for sure that your volunteer program is running as smoothly and effectively as possible? You can send a volunteer survey.
Volunteer surveys allow nonprofits like yours to determine the effectiveness of their volunteer programs as well as the satisfaction of their volunteers.
In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of volunteer surveys, from the best questions to ask to top tips for making the survey process a success. We’ll cover:
Volunteer surveys are a highly effective way to engage volunteers and assess their true feelings about your volunteer opportunities. To make the most of these surveys, it’s crucial that you ask the right questions to the right people. Let’s get started!
What are Volunteer Surveys?
A volunteer survey is a list of questions sent to prospective, current, or former volunteers to obtain their feedback and gain insight into a range of volunteer program considerations. These surveys allow you to understand your volunteers’ recent experience with any event or program and should be sent shortly after they have volunteered to get their immediate feedback.
When done effectively, volunteer surveys help your nonprofit improve many areas of your organization, such as programming and recruitment efforts. They are also one of the best ways to empower your volunteers and show them that their feedback matters, boosting volunteer satisfaction.
Let’s take a look at the different types of volunteer surveys:
Recruitment survey: A recruitment survey is sent to prospective volunteers or to those who have just signed up for a volunteer shift or training session. It can be used to determine your new volunteers’ skills and interests and gather information about how they discovered your organization.
Satisfaction survey: A satisfaction survey is sent to volunteers directly after a volunteer opportunity. It’s used to assess how satisfied volunteers were with the volunteer experience and gather their feedback on what could be improved.
Engagement survey: An engagement survey is sent to current volunteers at regular intervals, such as twice a year. This type of survey can be used to gather general feedback on volunteers’ engagement with your organization. It doesn’t have to be aligned with a volunteer opportunity.
Remember, some volunteers may want to give anonymous feedback. Be sure to send the occasional anonymous survey. This gives volunteers a chance to provide honest feedback, which is highly beneficial for your organization.
Benefits of Volunteer Surveys
Volunteer surveys can reveal valuable information about the state of your volunteer program. They can also make volunteers feel more comfortable with expressing their honest opinions. Taking feedback from your volunteers through surveys shows them that you value their input and prioritize giving them a positive, memorable experience!
Plus, volunteer surveys give you an idea of what’s working and what isn’t, allowing your program to become better and better after making changes according to your volunteers’ feedback.
By sending volunteer surveys, you can:
Gain valuable feedback on your volunteer program. You can adjust your volunteer program strategy based on volunteer feedback. For instance, if volunteers express dissatisfaction with your virtual volunteer opportunities, you can change your approach to offer more hands-on or unique remote opportunities.
Boost engagement and productivity. With a recruitment survey, you can engage volunteers from the moment they register and demonstrate your commitment to creating a valuable experience for them. The feedback you get from volunteer surveys will allow your organization to improve and grow, increasing engagement and productivity. When your volunteers enjoy your opportunities, they’re more likely to continue volunteering for longer!
Express appreciation for volunteers. By asking for and incorporating volunteer feedback, you show volunteers that their opinions matter. Your volunteers’ experience is crucial as they are the foundation of your organization, so it’s important to make them feel like their voices are heard.
Best Volunteer Survey Questions to Ask
So, what should you include in your volunteer survey? It can be challenging to narrow down the list of questions you want to ask. Remember, the goal is to collect feedback on your volunteer program, volunteers’ experience working with your nonprofit, and what they would like to see differently next time. The best volunteer survey questions to ask should be relevant and easy to answer!
First, determine the type of volunteer survey you want to send. Then, choose your questions based on the information you’re hoping to receive. You can begin with a volunteer survey template that has standard and simple questions and customize it according to your organization and what you’re looking to get out of your survey.
We’ll guide you with some examples. Here are a few questions to ask for each type of volunteer survey:
Volunteer recruitment survey questions
How did you find out about our volunteer program?
Do you have any specialized skills that would support our projects?
What types of volunteer opportunities are you most interested in?
When is the best time of the week/day for you to volunteer?
Volunteer satisfaction questions
How satisfied are you with your volunteer experience?
Is there anything you would change about the experience?
How much of a difference do you feel volunteering made?
Do you have any recommendations for how we can improve our volunteer opportunities?
Would you recommend our volunteer program to a friend?
Volunteer engagement questions
What is your preferred method of communication?
How often would you like to be contacted about upcoming volunteer opportunities?
How would you rate your volunteer training experience? Do you feel you need more training to volunteer effectively?
Do you feel like a valued member of our organization? How could we make you feel more appreciated?
How likely are you to continue volunteering with future opportunities?
These survey questions will help you find out how your volunteers perceive your organization and whether it’s offering the type of experience they had in mind. Remember, your survey questions should focus on the experience of your volunteers to keep them engaged with your nonprofit.
Volunteer Survey Best Practices and Tips
Before putting together multiple questions to ask your volunteers, it’s key to understand the objectives of your survey. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of the survey? Which questions will best help us improve?” Start by identifying the purpose of your survey, then choosing appropriate questions to help you achieve your goal.
Try to keep your survey as focused as possible. If you have too many questions on different topics, it may convey to volunteers that your organization has a lack of strategy or direction. Ensure your survey is short and to the point to avoid frustration and try to stay away from too many open-ended questions.
Remember, when creating a volunteer survey, success isn’t just based on the questions you ask— it also relies on sending your survey at the right time to the right people. Follow these tips and best practices for creating and sending your volunteer survey:
Stay on topic.
Choose your volunteer survey type, whether it’s a recruitment, satisfaction, or engagement survey, and design your questions accordingly. This will help you get effective, detailed feedback on one area, and your volunteers will also have a clearer idea of what the purpose of your survey is.
Avoid biased or leading questions.
Keep your questions as neutral and objective as possible. You don’t want to sway your volunteers toward submitting an answer that they don’t really mean. For instance, avoid questions like “On a scale from 1-10, how great is our volunteer program?”
Ask for additional information.
Ask an open-ended question at the end of the survey for volunteers to submit anything else that’s on their minds. For example, you can ask, “how would you like things to be done differently to improve your experience?” This gives your volunteers the space to mention any additional thoughts that came to mind while completing the survey.
Keep your survey short and to the point.
If your survey is too long or complex, audience members won’t want to fill it out. Keep your survey to less than 10 questions for a greater response rate. The last thing you want is your volunteers feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with too many questions.
Test your survey before sending it.
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and turn out differently than you might have expected. To avoid this from happening with your survey, have your nonprofit staff members test out the survey by taking it a few times to ensure everything’s working correctly. Having multiple people take a look at your survey can also help you avoid any spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Send your survey to the right audience.
Make sure you send your survey to the right volunteers. For instance, you should only send your satisfaction survey to volunteers who have just completed a volunteer opportunity. In contrast, you should send your engagement survey to all volunteers to gain a wide range of perspectives. This ensures you send relevant questions to each volunteer segment, guaranteeing you receive the highest quality of responses.
Launch your survey at the right time.
Don’t send your survey via email at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Be sure to send your survey at a time when volunteers are likely checking their emails and able to take a minute to fill out the form. Around 6 p.m. on weeknights is a good time to send the survey because that’s when many people are home for dinner and catching up with their personal inboxes.
Store your results using your volunteer management system.
Once your volunteers have filled out your surveys, you can sort them based on general information such as age or volunteer roles to organize your data.
You can easily record your insights using your volunteer management software system. This will give you a reference point when planning future volunteer opportunities. It also allows you to better understand the feedback you received based on the demographics of your volunteers.
Thank volunteers for their participation.
Don’t forget to thank volunteers for filling out your survey. You can even offer an incentive, such as entering the names of all volunteers who completed the survey into a drawing for a special prize. Check out InitLive’s volunteer appreciation guide for more great ideas!
Now that you’ve learned what volunteer surveys are and their benefits, examples of volunteer survey questions, and best practices and tips to help you thrive, it’s time to start brainstorming! Your hardworking volunteers donate many hours to support your cause and their experience directly impacts the performance of your organization, which is why it’s crucial to collect their feedback.
With the help of volunteer management software, you can simplify the survey process by organizing and storing all your data in one central location. This will help you understand your feedback better and identify patterns and trends. Remember to stay on topic and ask questions that will help you enhance your current volunteer program. Good luck!
If you’re interested in more information about how to optimize your volunteer management process, check out these additional resources:
Volunteer Engagement | Strategies for Smart Organizations. This article explores how your organization can ensure every volunteer has a meaningful and positive experience through a well-thought-out volunteer engagement strategy.
Volunteer Management Software: FAQ +18 Top Solutions. Interested in upgrading your volunteer management system for even greater volunteer engagement? Review the top tech solutions available to help make your choice.
The Smart Nonprofit’s Guide to Volunteer Management. Explore this article to get up-to-date information, best practices, and guidelines required to manage your volunteer workforce successfully.