Part of successfully managing your volunteer organization should include regularly gathering meaningful feedback from the people involved in it. This is typically done with survey questions, which allow volunteers to both address positive elements of your organization and provide feedback on what can be improved upon. 

Volunteer feedback is critical to keeping your volunteers engaged and satisfied. It provides you with an opportunity to analyze your organization's current culture and resource allocation, which can then help you correctly understand what’s currently working at your organization and what requires improvement.

Preparing for Volunteer Surveys

When preparing to conduct your volunteer surveys, one of the most critical things you can do is have clear outlines and objectives set for your survey before you even begin drafting questions. It’s always a smart idea to understand why you’re conducting your survey and then write questions with these particular goals in mind. 

What Types of Questions Should You Include?

Asking questions that are formatted or worded differently can help you gather more comprehensive feedback as you’re conducting your volunteer surveys. Here are some different types of questions that you can use to gather better data:

Demographic Questions

These questions collect the most basic information about your volunteers. They ask questions like “What is your full name?” or “What is your age demographic?” These questions help you better understand the kinds of people who are volunteering at your organization.

Closed-ended Questions

Closed-ended questions include both true/ false questions and multiple-choice ones. In either scenario, the survey participant selects from a pre-set list of answers. They’re useful for gathering feedback about how your volunteers feel about your organization or a particular element of it.

Open-ended Questions

Open-ended questions, on the other hand, are less simple to answer. These questions require participants to write out an answer rather than choosing a pre-selected one. They include queries like “Where do you see yourself at this organization a year from now?”

Likert Scale Questions

Likert scale questions are great for measuring volunteers’ agreement or satisfaction levels. They usually have five to seven response options, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. If you want to better understand the feelings surrounding a particular decision or change in your organization, these questions can help you gather more nuanced feedback from your volunteers.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Questions

Net promoter score (NPS) questions measure overall volunteer satisfaction levels and help you understand how likely they might be to recommend your organization to someone else. They generally ask participants to select on a scale of zero to ten the possibility of them making this recommendation. Oftentimes NPS is phrased as a single question.

What Are Some Essential Volunteer Survey Questions?

Now that you have a better grasp of the different kinds of questions you can ask and why they’re important, let’s check out some of the ones you should always be asking! Here are some essential volunteer survey queries:

Motivation and Interests

When you’re conducting your survey, you should be asking questions that aid your understanding of why volunteers choose to support your particular organization. Ask questions like “What drew you to volunteer with us over another organization?” You should also ask about your volunteers’ interests and skills, which can help you understand the unique strengths they bring to the table.

Role and Expectations

Another important goal of your survey should be ensuring that all volunteers understand their roles and responsibilities correctly. Ask questions that are specific to volunteer roles, or ask open-ended questions that allow your volunteers to explain what they do in their own words.

Communication and Support

Your survey should also ask questions like “Do you feel like you have enough support you need in your role?” or “On a scale of one to ten, how easy is it for you to communicate when there’s an issue that comes up?” This allows you to effectively evaluate how well your communication channels and available support are working and pinpoint particular issues.

Satisfaction and Experience

Crucial to any successful survey is gauging your volunteers’ overall satisfaction levels with your organization. To get effective data, ask this question more than once on your survey in a few different ways. Encourage employees to cite specific examples, which can help you gain better insight into their experiences with your organization.

Suggestions and Improvements

Last but not least is cultivating an environment where employees feel welcome to share feedback and suggestions for improvement. Make space for this in your survey and encourage your employees to openly share their ideas for enhancing engagement or on how to resolve a troublesome issue. Remember, when volunteers feel comfortable sharing their suggestions, everyone at your organization ultimately benefits. 

What Are Some Tips For Crafting Effective Open-Ended Questions?

To craft more effective open-ended questions that encourage transparent feedback, it’s important to remember a few helpful tips:

  • Avoid leading questions
  • Word your survey questions in ways that are simple to understand
  • Use questions that start with “how,” “what” or “why”
  • Leave enough room on the survey sheet (if printed) for participants to write

What About Questionnaire Length and Structure?

In general, it’s best practice to keep your survey questions limited to what can be completed in ten to fifteen minutes, but certainly no more than thirty. Studies have also shown that around twenty-five to thirty questions is also the optimal survey length. To keep your participants engaged, questions should be written with clarity and should be kept fairly short in length.

How to Ensure Questionnaire Accessibility and Clarity

Don’t neglect accessibility when it comes to your surveys! To gather the best feedback possible, everyone should be able to easily complete your survey, including those with disabilities. Some tips for making questionnaires more accessible include:

  • Use clear and concise language to avoid confusion
  • Offer alternative ways to complete it, such as remotely, printed, or in a different format
  • Use bulleted lists and section headers
  • Avoid jargon and spell out acronyms

The Importance of Pilot Testing and Refinement

Now that you’ve got your survey written, it’s time to refine it. This is most easily done by pilot-testing your survey with a small group of volunteers. Pilot testing can help identify several potential issues with your survey, including:

  • Question validity
  • Confusing words or typos
  • Questions that encourage biased answers
  • Questions that can be misinterpreted 
  • Surveys that are too long or too short

Conducting ample testing beforehand ensures that your survey is ready for a larger group and that you get the most accurate and comprehensive answers possible.

Analyzing and Acting on Survey Responses

Once your survey has been conducted, you’ll need to analyze the data and extract meaningful insights. Sorting your data sets with volunteer management programs is one of the best ways to do this since it can help automate organizing your data and interpreting it. 

Accurate insights are crucial to empowered decision-making and boosting volunteer retention, so don’t neglect this step. All the work of creating your survey will be wasted if your data is ultimately interpreted incorrectly.

Conducting Effective Volunteer Surveys 

Creating well-crafted volunteer surveys is critical to ensuring volunteer engagement and improving your organization's operations. When you’re conducting surveys, don’t forget to:

  • Ask clear, open-ended questions
  • Ask a variety of different questions, like those that ask about motivations or interests
  • Ensure your survey is accessible to everyone in your organization
  • Conduct pilot testing
  • Properly analyze and implement data from your survey, such as with a software program

With surveys that encourage feedback and participation, you will be able to gather meaningful data that encourages engagement at your volunteering organization and helps create positive change in your community. 

About the Author:
Geng Wang

As CEO of Civic Champs, I lead our team of passionate change leaders to create technology solutions to create a seamless and rewarding volunteering experience for both volunteers and service organizations.

Related Blog Posts