Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Calculating the ROI (Return on Investment) of your volunteer program

I was a participant at the Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management in Australia last month. As the name suggests, the topics covered were not the type covered in workshops for those just beginning their career in volunteer management. A number of goals of the entire group were determined at the end of the retreat and I volunteered to work on one of them, developing a tool for measuring the success of a volunteer program.

Given that this resource was developed with those with extensive experience in mind, the implementation of the ideas presented in this month’s article might not be not for every leader of volunteers. However, even if you feel you would not have the time to address this sort of reporting, the article is still worth a read just to get a different perspective on valuing the contributions of volunteers and on determining relative levels of success from one year to another.

This is especially of value in economically tough times. With an economic downturn there is always the risk of program cuts. Good executive management looks at what can be cut with a minimum of impact. Crucial to dealing with the economic downturn related to your volunteer program then is that your executive management understands the real impact of your volunteer program. While reports of the number of volunteers,volunteer hours and in some cases, the wage replacement value of their hours may have sufficed in the past, it is too easy for a cutback in your department to be viewed as 'only' affecting volunteers and not the impact of the work that volunteers do.

Some insightful, new thoughts have emerged more recently that focus on the value of the results of the efforts of volunteers. Linda Graff describes this concept well in A Note on Assessing Value, http://www.energizeinc.com/art/abeso.html). To that discussion I would like to add a mechanism with which you can make some solid comparisons of the performance of your volunteer program from year to year. If you would like to measure your year to year successes as a volunteer program manager:

  • for your own use in making improvements to your program, or
  • to make a case for your professional position and your program’s budget within your organization, or
  • to advance your career,

click Calculating the ROI (Return on Investment) of your volunteer program for a pfd copy of this month's article. (The tables in the article required the use of pdf separate from this blog page.)