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Beyond Surveys: Methods and Metrics to Demonstrate Volunteer Engagement

Demonstrating volunteer engagement can effectively showcase the invaluable relationship that a volunteer has with an organization.  Engaged volunteers are arguably more committed, dedicated, and likely to have a meaningful impact on the organization’s success.  

Engagement data is often captured in with survey measurement.  However, if you don’t have survey data, what other sources of data can you collect and analyze that will help demonstrate volunteer engagement?

Three smiling out of focus women are in the background, in the foreground is a measurement scale of smiley faces

This article explores various methods to measure volunteer engagement, offering a comprehensive view of how the volunteer experience can be observed. By using diverse metrics and methods, leaders of volunteers can better understand and communicate the experience that volunteers are having. 


What is Volunteer Engagement

Volunteer engagement refers to the level of commitment, involvement, and satisfaction volunteers have with their roles and the organization. Engaged volunteers are not only dedicated to their tasks but also feel a sense of connection and purpose within the organization. They are more likely to continue volunteering, take on additional responsibilities, and advocate for the organization.


Why the Measurement of Engagement Matters

Measuring volunteer engagement is crucial because it informs other processes within your organization. Engaged volunteers tend to stay longer, contribute more, and have a more significant impact on your programs. Strategic volunteer engagement is an industry best practice. Understanding what drives engagement helps in improving volunteer retention, satisfaction, and overall program effectiveness.

Understanding and collecting data on the experience of volunteers in your organization provides a rich and reliable source of information.  What to do with that information depends upon your unique needs and strategic priorities.  Depending on where you are in the life cycle of your volunteer program, the decisions you make with your data will vary. 



7 Metrics to Demonstrate Volunteer Engagement

Surveys are a common method to gauge volunteer engagement, but they are not the only tool available. Various actions and behaviors can be turned into metrics to tell the story of engagement comprehensively.

Below are several methods and metrics to demonstrate volunteer engagement.  While the focus is on methods other than surveys, they have been included in this list as well.

#1 | Quantitative Data

Quantitative data provides measurable and numerical insights into volunteer engagement.

  • Hours Contributed: Track and display the total number of volunteer hours contributed. This provides a tangible measure of commitment and effort.

  • Volunteer Retention Rates: Measure how many volunteers return over time, reflecting their satisfaction and engagement with the program.

  • Surveys: Use results from reliable and valid volunteer satisfaction surveys, like the Volunteer Satisfaction Index (VSI), to gauge and demonstrate their engagement and satisfaction.


 #2 | Qualitative Feedback

Qualitative feedback offers personal and subjective insights from volunteers about their experiences.

  • Testimonials: Gather and share quotes or stories from volunteers about their experiences. This personal touch can highlight the impact of the program on volunteers and the community.


 #3 | Achievements and Milestones

Achievements and milestones connect volunteer activities to the program's outcomes and successes.

An out of focus meeting seen from the back with many people raising their hands enthusiastically

  • Impact Metrics: Link volunteer activities to specific outcomes or achievements of the program, such as the number of people served, or projects completed.

  • Awards and Recognitions: Highlight any recognitions or awards the volunteer group or individual volunteers have received, both within and outside the organization.


#4 | Visual Representations

Visual representations create engaging and easily digestible content that highlights volunteer efforts.

  • Photo and Video Highlights: Create a visual narrative of volunteers in action using photos and videos that can be shared in reports, on social media, or in newsletters.


#5 | Engagement Activities

Engagement activities show the level of active participation and commitment of volunteers.

  • Training Sessions Attended: Track and showcase the number of training sessions or workshops that volunteers attend, indicating their commitment to improving their skills.

  • Events Participation: Highlight volunteer participation in special events, which can illustrate their active role and commitment to the organization.


# 6 | Digital Engagement

Digital engagement metrics reflect how volunteers interact with the organization online.

Superimposed over an out of focus computer screen are social media icon images with number counts next to them
  • Social Media Interaction: Show engagement statistics from social media, such as likes, shares, and comments on volunteer-related posts.

  • Email Open and Response Rates: Track how volunteers engage with email communications, which can indicate their interest and involvement in the program.


#7 | Volunteer Development

Volunteer development metrics track the growth and progression of volunteers within the organization.

  • Progression and Roles: Document how volunteers have progressed into different roles or taken on additional responsibilities over time.


Visualizing Your Volunteer Engagement Data Story

Whatever method and metrics you collect, your engagement data will help you realize the benefits of data-driven decision making.  Use your data to tell the story! 

The data you have can be crafted into a compelling data story using a few data storytelling techniques, like those learned from Periscope BPA's Data Storytelling Essentials Training.  Data Storytelling Essentials provides a practical approach to data storytelling from numbers to narrative.

Use the data to tell the story of your volunteers, their commitment, and the impact they make. Here are a few suggestions for formats to tell your data story:


  • Annual Reports: Include volunteer engagement metrics in your annual reports to highlight the impact and value of volunteers.

  • CEO and Board Executive Reports: Present the data to your CEO and board members to inform strategic decisions and recognize the contributions of volunteers.

  • Single Slide: Create compelling data stories that combine quantitative and qualitative data to share your impact. Use visuals and narratives to make the data engaging and easy to understand.

A single slide data story  example showing the growth in volunteer engagement metrics
A single slide data story is a concise and visually impactful way to communicate key insights.


Measuring volunteer engagement goes beyond simply collecting data; it involves understanding and showcasing the meaningful connection volunteers make with the service they provide.

By employing a variety of metrics and methods, organizations can paint a comprehensive picture of volunteer engagement, ensuring that volunteer engagement is effectively demonstrated, communicated, and celebrated.

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Roseanna Galindo is Principal at Periscope Business Process Analysis, specializing in organizational learning and development. She is dedicated to advancing data literacy, enhancing healthcare experiences, and empowering volunteer leaders. Explore Roseanna’s expertise and insights on her blog, The Periscope Insighter, starting with the opening post, "Venn the Time is Right."


Roseanna offers a range of professional development services, including training workshops, keynote speaking, and executive coaching.


Visit for more information or click on the button below to schedule a time to talk.

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