Effective volunteer involvement should be underpinned by a commitment to continuous improvement. Volunteering programs are dynamic and role requirements are likely to change over time. Regular reviews should consider the effectiveness of existing volunteering roles and opportunities for new roles that could add value. Obtaining regular feedback from volunteers, paid staff, and service users about what is working well and what could be improved will enable your organisation to ensure its volunteering programs are providing a return on investment. Importantly, regular reviews are critical for volunteer engagement and wellbeing.
National Standard 8: Continuous Improvement is dedicated to the review and improvement of volunteer involvement. Continuous improvement is relevant to the other seven National Standards, as it provides an impetus for change and ensures that the other functions of volunteer involvement are relevant, necessary, and effective.
Getting regular feedback from your volunteers is the best way to understand what is working well and what could be improved in your volunteering programs. Further, actively seeking feedback from volunteers shows you take their involvement seriously and you are committed to providing roles that are engaging and meaningful. Volunteers often have practical experience that paid staff are not privy to on a daily basis and volunteers may be the primary interface with service users.
Your organisation should provide both formal and informal opportunities for volunteers to provide feedback. It is critical to communicate with volunteers how your organisation intends to incorporate their feedback, and this includes reporting back to volunteers on whether their suggestions have been implemented or not, and why. Your organisation should also have a mechanism for volunteers to provide feedback anonymously.
Volunteering Australia recommends reviewing your volunteering programs against the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement. The National Standards Guide and Workbook provides a comprehensive overview of how to undertake a review and includes a gap analysis template. The Guide and Workbook can be purchased from Volunteering Australia for a small fee. The State and Territory Volunteering Peak Bodies for Volunteering also deliver training sessions on implementing the National Standards.
If your organisation does not have the resources to purchase the Guide and Workbook or attend training, you can use the National Standards document to support your review. Each National Standard is underpinned by criteria and examples of evidence are provided to demonstrate how each National Standard can be met.
The regularity of formal reviews will usually be dictated by the number and complexity of your volunteering programs. An annual review will enable you to benchmark your current state and work towards progress over time.