Idea 22: Evaluate your volunteer program.

An annual review of the volunteer program to see if it is on track is recommended as good practice. It includes reviewing the goals and objectives of the program, checking the results, getting feedback from volunteers and clients, and using information from exit interviews. Existing tools for volunteer program evaluation can be used as is or customized to meet particular interests/requirements.

An evaluation can produce both quantitative and qualitative information about volunteer involvement. This information that can be used to modify the volunteer program and to meet reporting requirements.

Voices from the field:

  • We evaluate our program through learner satisfaction and learner progress.
  • Not done very often
  • I did a From The Ground Up program assessment in 2007 (I had to check the date to answer this questionnaire, and it was a shock how long ago this was done)
  • The government reporting requirements are a great catalyst for forcing us to do this. As required, we use the benchmarks and evaluate the progress of learners against these benchmarks, but also take into account achievements which benchmarks cannot measure.
  • I sent a questionnaire out recently to all of our tutors as I was interested in knowing if they were content with the program, if they were receiving the help that they needed and if they had any specific requests for ongoing professional development. I was pleased that we had over a 50% return (45 out of 85 tutors responded). The high rate of tutor retention indicates that the program is meeting the needs of most of our tutors.
  • We do this very informally. Are students continuing to come to our program? Are we hearing complaints about our volunteers? Do we observe positive energy and relationship between students and volunteers? Are students getting through material with the help of a volunteer? We have one AMAZING story here: I had all but given up hope on one of our students last year. He had completed 4 of the 5 courses necessary for his Adult Dogwood but there was absolutely no way he was going to complete Math 11 Essentials – at least that is what I had thought. One of our volunteers worked relentlessly with him for three months. The volunteer was patient, meticulous and skilled. In the end this young man completed Math 11 Essentials scoring 60% on the final examination with NO help whatsoever. I was humbled and it was a great lesson for me!

To learn more:

Booth-Johnson, Debbie. (2006). Monitoring plan for volunteer tutor programs: Project Literacy Victoria. Vancouver, BC: RIPAL BC. Also available online at
» This report describes user friendly tools that were designed to provide feedback about effectiveness of volunteer tutoring services. The tools provide an opportunity for learners and tutors to review progress, set goals, and identify supports and challenges. They also allow the program coordinator to see how well the learner and tutor pair is matched, and examine the effectiveness of tutor training. The tools include: The Learner/Tutor Session Report, The Learner and Tutor Monthly Report, and The Tutor Training Feedback Form.

Charette, N., Humphrey-Pratt, C., Maillot, N. & Webb, A. (2006). The Canadian code for volunteer involvement: an audit tool. Ottawa, Ont.: Volunteer Canada. Retrieved from
» Provides tools to assess, both overall and in detail, your organization’s standards for volunteer involvement.

Community Literacy of Ontario. (2010). Promoting best practices in volunteer management. Barrie, ON: Community Literacy of Ontario. Retrieved from
» Sets out six features of a quality standard for program-volunteer relations for Ontario Literacy and Basic Skills programs.

Harwood, C. (2002). Literacy volunteer resources. Ottawa, ON: Ottawa-Carleton Coalition for Literacy.
» Includes a section in ‘Managing the volunteer process’ on involving tutors in evaluating a program.

Thomas, A.M. (1989). Adult literacy volunteer tutor program evaluation kit. Victoria, BC: Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology. Also available online at
» An oldie but a goodie. A manual designed to help literacy program providers objectively examine their practices with the aim of improving program conditions. Seventeen components of a quality literacy program are identified as the basis for assessment. A questionnaire includes a checklist of conditions that support good practice.

Volunteer Canada. (2012). The Canadian code for volunteer involvement: values, guiding principles and standards of practice. Retrieved from
» Performance reviews for both volunteers and the volunteer program are outlined as a standard of practice.

Voo, A. & Kaattari, J. (2010). Literacy volunteers: value added: economic value. Retrieved from
» This website includes a section on how they evaluated the economic value of volunteers and the social value.

Last updated: June 28, 2012