About Our Services
Let VPA Help Your Nonprofit
|Overview||Sample Survey Questions||Frequently Asked Questions|
The Volunteer Program Assessment (VPA, pronounced vee-pah) is a cutting-edge, innovative, and completely free volunteer assessment system designed to promote nonprofit organizational effectiveness. The VPA is an online survey provided to volunteer coordinators to administer to their volunteers. The information collected from the survey speaks to a variety of individual and organizational outcomes, including satisfaction, commitment, burnout, stress, and organizational communication. We guide volunteer coordinators through the survey process, provide sample emails to send to their volunteers, and help interpret the results of the VPA report.
VPA-UNO representatives spend a number of hours developing the survey, analyzing and interpreting survey results, and delivering reports of those results to the volunteer coordinator. VPA-UNO provides this consultation service free of charge; however, if it were provided at regular market price, nonprofits might pay as much as $10,000 for just the survey alone. In addition to survey development, VPA-UNO offers the benefit of interpreting open-ended survey questions, providing face-to-face consultations about the results of the survey, and providing nonprofits with guidance and recommendations to move forward with the results to improve their volunteer programs.
There are four main steps in the VPA-UNO process. To gain a deeper understanding of the overall process and the time commitment involved, please consult the brief outline provided below:
Step 1: The VPA-UNO process will start with an initial email from your analyst. This initial communication will help you learn more about the VPA-UNO process, and will provide a general timeline for completion of the process.
Step 2: After the initial conversation, you will be asked to fill out an online form with information about your organization. This information will help to familiarize the VPA-UNO analyst with your organization before helping to administer the VPA-UNO survey.
Step 3: Your VPA-UNO analyst will email you the survey link. In addition to the survey link, your consultant will provide you with information on how to both administer the survey and communicate with your volunteers throughout the process. Online survey administration typically lasts for 2 weeks.
Step 4: Your VPA-UNO analyst will use the survey results to generate an executive report. This report will identify areas in which your organization is doing well and areas where improvements can be made. Your VPA-UNO analyst will walk you through the report, discussing best practices and recommendations based on the results. Following the discussion of your report, your analyst will provide you with a summary of the consultation session.
As a volunteer coordinator that has time constraints, you may be worried about adding another item to your to-do list, not to mention something that you may not know much about. We have included sample items from our survey to the website to give you an idea of the types of questions that will be asked of your volunteers, should you choose to participate in the VPA-UNO process. Some sample questions include:
- My volunteer coordinator is quite competent in doing his/her job.
- I like the volunteers I work with.
- I feel that I know what is going on within this organization.
- I have mastered the skills necessary for my volunteer assignment.
- I feel that my input is valued by the organization I volunteer at.
- I feel used up at the end of the volunteer session.
- I often think of ending my volunteer work at this organization.
The items are rated in terms of how much the volunteer agrees with each statement.
Q: What will be on the survey?
A: This survey contains questions about the volunteer’s feelings, reactions to organizational processes, behaviors, demographics, etc. Using these data, we can inform you of any volunteer issues.
Q: Who should take it?
A: You should distribute this survey to all of your volunteers; however, if you are only interested in a particular subset of volunteers, you can distribute it to them. This method will tell you less about your volunteer program as a whole, but more about that particular group of volunteers.
Q: Why should I, as a volunteer coordinator, use it?
A: As a volunteer coordinator, you should use this survey because it will tell you about the makeup of your volunteer base, including where you’re getting your volunteers, how effective are your recruiting methods, and what is the condition of your staff-volunteer interaction. We at VPA-UNO understand that volunteer coordinators are challenged for time and resources, and we view this diagnostic tool as a method by which we can provide you an overall volunteer program assessment with minimal legwork on your part.
Q: What we will do with the data?
A: We will provide a report based on the data generated through the survey. In addition, we will likely use the data to conduct scientific research; however, we will remove any identities (personal and organizational) from the data before using the data for research presentations and publications. All research will fall under Institutional Review Board ethical guidelines. We take your privacy (and your right not to be studied) very seriously.
Q: What if I don’t have the time to go through with the process? I am interested, but I have a tight schedule.
A: We are sensitive to the needs of our clients, and are able to work around any schedule. We can also change the dates that steps occur if need be. It is important to discuss any time constraints or possible difficulties at the beginning of the VPA process to allow the consultant to adjust for these issues.
Q: How often can my organization take the survey?
A: We recommend doing a follow-up survey six months to a year after the original start date to measure the effectiveness of the survey. We also like to measure how effective our recommendations have been at improving your organization.
Q: What's in it for UNO?
A: The VPA program helps UNO reach its goals of supporting the academic, career, and personal goals of all the university’s students; fostering academic excellence within the university; and being recognized as a university with a high degree of community engagement.
Q: How were we selected for the VPA process?
A: We select our clients based on the size of the organization and the perceived value of VPA for the program.
Q: How can we get our volunteers to fill out the survey (i.e., increase the response rate)?
A: Your volunteer response rate will depend greatly upon you! Here are some things you can do to improve response rate:
- Review and audit your volunteer contact database
- Pre-notify volunteers (e.g., email blast, newsletter item, town-hall meeting, etc.) – pre-notification is the single best strategy for improving response rate
- Send a reminder halfway through survey collection
- Communicate the value and importance of the survey
If you are looking for specific ways of incentivizing survey response, think about what has worked for your volunteer group in the past. Because the survey is anonymous, we have no way of tracking who has taken the survey. Thus, you may want to set an overall group goal with a reward such as a pizza party. Or, you could have an inter-unit competition that is based on the honor system.
Q: What can I do for volunteers that are not comfortable using a computer?
A: We can provide you with a version of the survey that can be printed and provided to those volunteers that are not comfortable using a computer. Then, you can designate a volunteer to enter any hard copy surveys via the online link.