Measuring the impact of volunteering programs is a powerful way to highlight how the involvement of volunteers makes a difference. Volunteers contribute significant social, cultural, and economic value to Australian society and are an indispensable resource.. Volunteers are essential to delivering critical services and programs in the community and their work contributes to a more connected and resilient Australia. Impact measurement is an important part of telling this story and will enable your organisation to communicate to volunteers the importance of their work. Additionally, impact measurement reports are vital for securing ongoing funding and marketing your organisation to your stakeholders.
Measuring impact can assist your organisation to meet all of the National Standards. Firstly, understanding the value of volunteers in your organisation contributes to National Standard 1: Volunteering is embedded in leadership, governance and culture, and National Standard 2: Volunteer participation is championed and modelled. Having a broad picture of the role that volunteers play in your organisation’s ecosystem is essential and enables your organisation and/or board or committee to strategically invest in volunteering. Impact measurement reports also provide information on what is working and what could be improved, allowing you to re-design volunteer roles as necessary. Insights gained through impact measurement will also enable your organisation to streamline your volunteer management processes. Impact measurement is a critical part of volunteer recognition as the findings enable you to communicate with your volunteers how their involvement makes a difference. Finally, benchmarking your impact measurement is a critical tool for continuous improvement.
Impact measurement can take many forms and there are tools available to support this activity. There are some resources on impact measurement housed in the Volunteering Resource Hub. Further, a simple google search reveals a suite of tools that explain what impact measurement is and how it can be done. This is also an activity that skilled volunteers can assist with or a service your organisation can procure through an expert if you have a budget for this activity. To prepare for measuring impact, it is worth considering what data you need to collect that will enable you to undertake this work. Remember, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to impact measurement and even small efforts to understand the inputs, outputs, and outcomes of your volunteering programs will help you demonstrate your value to the community you serve.