An Effective Framework for Evaluating a Volunteer Program

An Effective Framework for Evaluating a Volunteer Program

Volunteer Satisfaction is a nuanced and complicated concept. Accurately measuring such a thing is consequently a tall order. The key to simplifying (and as a result, optimizing) your research plan is to build your study around a strong theoretical framework. I can thank my friend Dr. Steven Goodwin for having introduced me to the concept of Psychic Pay. This theory proposes that our satisfaction at work comes from more than just the paycheck we receive. We each have a short list of basic human desires in need of fulfillment. When we are fulfilled in any of those ways, we receive “psychic pay” for our effort. Gratification beyond a paycheck? That’s the very definition of volunteering and why I chose to use this theory for some recently completed volunteer research. So what are these basic needs your volunteers crave? According to this framework there are 3 and the status of each can be exposed through a simple yes or no question: 1.) Inclusion – Do your volunteers feel they belong? 2.) Control – Do they feel their contribution makes a difference? 3.) Affection – Do they feel appreciated? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” that volunteer is already drifting away. When you see the list it seems very simple and that is exactly the point. We’ve turned the abstract concept of “Volunteer Satisfaction” into three manageable research questions. With that clear direction we can begin to construct a survey instrument or qualitative discussion guide. Of course, there are many factors that drive the answer to those 3 magic questions (quality of training, communication with leadership, job...
Millennials and Agency Training

Millennials and Agency Training

The May 20th edition of Time Magazine ran a very interesting article on the Millennial Generation. In summary, they think different. And though they rate high on the narcissism scales, they are quite clever and overall nicer than us Boomers.  I’ve worked at or with many of the agencies in the nonprofit space over the years. And one common challenge they all have is training new employees – especially Millennials. Agency life is the definition of busy and hurry up. And training, no matter how much lip service it receives, is just not a priority when lined up against what needs to happen in a day. And Millennials won’t put up with our Boomer generated ideas of training. But I have an idea I think your agency should try. Instead of having HR or some senior manager lead training at your agency, assign a sharp Millennial who has successfully navigated through their first year and put her in charge of training. They are going to be light years ahead of knowing what the gaps are. And since they just ran the gantlet, they will have a better idea of what the training should entail. Plus, since it will be a big honor for them to do this, it might actually...
Can you answer these 5 questions?

Can you answer these 5 questions?

I am preparing for a speaking engagement later this month that covers the use of donor data to drive strategic decisions and I decided to lead the session off by asking participants if they knew the answers to 5 key performance metric questions. Here’s a sneak peak at those 5 questions: Do you know your donor retention rate? Do you know what your donors’ five year long-term value is? Do you know what percent of your new donors make a second gift? Are you tracking message frequency by channel? Do you know your annual email list growth and churn rates? So, how many can you answer? Knowing the answers to these key performance indicators can help you drive fundraising strategy into the future. Let’s take donor retention rate as an example. Let’s say your donor retention rate is declining year over year and you don’t know why. Next step would be to investigate further by examining retention rate by donor lifecycle and/or acquisition channel in order to determine if there is one segment of the donor file that is bringing down the remainder of the file. After further investigation, you find that your multi-year donors retention rate is stable (these are the donors that have given to you for three consecutive years). The donors that are under performing are those individuals that your organization acquired last year and are in their second year of giving. Well there are two theories that apply to why this might be happening: 1) Your donor acquisition strategy has changed and the new donors that you are acquiring are 1 time givers and are...
5 Quick Steps to Better Word Clouds

5 Quick Steps to Better Word Clouds

Word clouds have become a popular tool for efficient top-line qualitative analysis. Sometimes they are a little too easy. From time to time, especially around election season, I notice word clouds that have been published by major news sources that look more like children’s art projects than serious analyses. I can’t help but cringe because it would have taken just a few more minutes to create a cloud that is worthy of the source. The issue is that these clouds are being created on Wordle.net, which I highly recommend, but no time is being taken to tidy them up for presentation. This our topic today. To demonstrate the process I use, I first generated a wordle.net cloud based using all the text found on our company website. In the first randomly generated style, I can pick out a few words right away, but it takes a little effort to make my way around the cloud and absorb all the content. Let’s clean it up. Our starting point:   Step 1: Go to the Layout menu and select  Horizontal.  Upside-down, vertical, and diagonal words may be stylish, but in a report I want the insights to pop out to the audience immediately. Orienting the words to match our normal reading pattern is a good first step.     Step 2: Pick a more readable  font under the Font menu. I personally like Gnuolane Free.   Step 3: Under Language, select MAKE ALL WORDS UPPER-CASE More than an aesthetic fix, this has more to do with the analysis itself. In the cloud from the previous step, you can see that “Donor” and “donor” are...