Volunteer Power News Number 41
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter
© 2006 Advantage Point Systems Publishing
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In this Issue:
Eight New Articles for Your Use--Free
We have just placed the following eight articles on our web site.
The following thoughts were stimulated by a letter I received. I have edited the letter to hit the high points.
Our organization works with a lot of community service volunteers. I would like to provide a survey or feedback form for them so they can rate their experience with us. We often receive comments about their positive experience, but I would like more details. Can you provide some suggestions on how to do this? I am afraid I won't get honest feedback if I ask them in person, or just ask them to fill out a form and give it right back to me. I also am sure that asking them to mail it in won't work either.
Do you have any suggestions on how to get honest feedback from volunteers? I am speaking at a conference next month and would love to be able to implement this new strategy before the conference.
I would appreciate this, Thanks
Here are some of my suggestions
I Need Your Help
The above letter prompted some research and thinking on my part. Before I give some suggestions, I am wondering if our readers have used any effective evaluation methods that I can pass on. Please send them to me with your permission to copy and send them on to our readers. Please send to Tom@volunteerpower.com
Determine What You Want to Know
Perhaps the most important issue is to determine what you want to have evaluated by your volunteers. Think about questions such as these:
You can learn a lot by volunteer focus groups. The purpose of a focus group is to get information. Follow these focus group ideas:
Appreciative Inquiry (AI)
Last month I taught this approach to facilitating to a group of managers, and the next day I heard from a very excited manager. He told me that his group was always so negative—only wanting to talk about what was wrong. He used the “Appreciative Inquiry” method of facilitating and when he asked the first question, “What are we doing right? Give me an example of something that really went well this week,” the most negative person said, “Nothing went well!” The manager said, “I know everything’s not perfect, but lets focus on what is working well.” It was quiet for a moment and then one member of the group shared a positive experience. The very negative person questioned, “That’s what you call success?” The manager did not give up. He turned to the person who had shared the “best practice” and asked her to elaborate. She told a wonderful story of success. As this manager told me his experience with “Appreciative Inquire,” he smiled and said, “The whole meeting turned on that story and people began to share other experiences. We were able to took at the successful things we were doing, and what we could do to expand on those practices.”
How does this work?
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a fairly new approach to improving performance which allows a person and/or organization build on strengths and success. Since AI focuses on and builds from the positive core of an organization or person, it naturally builds morale and encourages commitment and loyalty. This system is designed to help individuals make the paradigm shift from a problem-oriented focus to a success-oriented focus.
The following are two of the assumptions from The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry by Sue Annis Hammond.
You can use the AI questions in informal, individual interviews with volunteers or in a group setting. The following are examples of AI questions that you could use to get feedback.
1. Tell me about a peak experience or high point in your volunteer position…a time when you felt most alive, most engaged, and really proud of yourself and your work.
2. Without being humble, what do you most value about…
…yourself, and the way you do your volunteer work? What unique skills and gifts do you bring to this team and organization?
. . . our organization and its larger contribution to society and the world?
3. What are the core factors that give life to this organization when it is at its best?
4. If you had a magic wand, and could have any three wishes granted to heighten the health and vitality of this organization, what would they be?
Have each person answer these four questions or have each volunteer fill out the SWOT form:
What are three strengths?
What are out three weaknesses?
What are three opportunities for our organization?
What are three threats for our organization?
Percentage of Participation-- Not All Volunteers Will Respond – But
The only way you get 100% participation is to take the survey at a meeting. In most other surveys, not all volunteers will respond. But for those who do, study their feedback carefully. Does their description of what they did for your organization match the description from your point of view? Do they have a positive image of your organization as a result of their volunteer experience? Are volunteers noting the same problems or concerns?
Please send to me some of your successful feedback methods you use with your volunteers (Tom@volunteerpower.com)
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