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There is a wealth of information available on the subjects of monitoring and evaluation. This information sheet is intended as a brief introduction, specific to monitoring and evaluating a volunteer programme. It is based on self evaluation - that is using your organisations own people, skills and resources to carry out the task.
Monitoring is the process for collecting the facts and figures related to your volunteer programme. This will include such things as
Monitoring information can be used to evidence your outputs (the things you do and the services you provide)
Evaluation involves using information you have collected to answer questions about how well the volunteer programme is doing, to identify any gaps and improvements you can make and to demonstrate your outcomes (the difference that involving volunteers makes). It will involve analysis of monitoring information (quantitative or "hard" data ) and any feedback, case studies, volunteer experiences etc (qualitative or "soft" data).
You can count and ask questions about any number of things. There is skill required in only counting and asking about what is most useful to know. The sort of questions you may want answers to include -
Once you have identified the information you need, the next step is to work out the best method of obtaining it.
Monitoring statistics can be collected from a variety of sources including - application forms, equality and diversity monitoring forms, volunteer timesheets and training records
Information about the quality of the volunteering experience and the difference that it makes will involve collecting feedback from stakeholders including volunteers, staff and service users
Once you have collected the evidence you will need to analyse and interpret it. For outputs, this might include: Did you meet the targets you set for volunteer recruitment? Are your volunteers from a wide and diverse range of backgrounds?
What about your outcomes? Did you achieve what you set out to do, or were there some unexpected outcomes eg did some volunteers leave to take up paid employment using the skills and experience they learned and developed as volunteers?
You may need to write up your conclusions based on the evidence you have found. When interpreting information, consider if there are any other possible explanations for your findings. Once you have identified gaps, you need to focus on how to make improvements.
These need to be realistic, specific and achievable. This may be a good opportunity to review targets for outputs and outcomes.
Volunteer meetings can be a good way of discussing how improvements and changes can be made to your volunteering programme. This will make your volunteers feel involved in the process, and will help you to develop methods to implement the changes. All decisions should be recorded in the minutes of your meetings.