Metrics: paint the big picture

How much do you know about your volunteer impact? Do you track volunteer hours? How about other metrics? If you haven’t been actively tracking the numbers behind your volunteer work (e.g. phone calls per shift, letters mailed, classes taught, meals served, students helped, trees planted..) now is a great time to start making some estimates. Try inputting your data into this Volunteer Impact Calculator Template (replace the green text and numbers with your own counts).

While sharing overall impact is a great start, you can help personalize the data by calculating an impact estimate for each of your volunteers. Insert the names and annual shift counts for your volunteers in the template above to get immediate estimates.

Whether you want to highlight the work of each volunteer or each volunteer group, the more specific you can get with your numbers, the better. Each metric you decide to share with your volunteers should illustrate how each and every one of your volunteers is making a measurable, remarkable difference.

Stories: tell it from the heart

If you don’t have much volunteer data on hand, or think numbers alone won’t do a great job of communicating volunteer impact, tell it with a story. Quotations from your organization’s clients and other stories of impact help establish a connection between your volunteers and your mission. Sharing impact stories with your volunteers is especially important if volunteers are removed from your organization’s program work, whether helping with office work or fundraising.

Visuals: see the change

Have you heard of the adage, ‘show, don’t tell’? Images and short videos can illustrate impact in a way text and numbers can’t. They tell a story while establishing an immediate emotional connection. Depending on the work of your organization, you can try using before-and-after photos, client testimonials that feature images, program/impact heat maps, or data visualizations to bring your mission to life.

…and connect it all back to your volunteers.

Whatever metrics, stories, or images you share to communicate volunteer impact, always try to connect them to the specific tasks your volunteers perform. For example, that letter campaign your volunteers helped send out last fall? Tell them how much money was raised because of their letter stuffing, and how the funds were spent. Volunteers want their donated time to make a difference, and not all volunteer tasks give them a window into the impact of their work. For National Volunteer Week, be sure to show them why they matter.