Once you have established an effective volunteer program, it is important to look at how you can provide ongoing development of the program for your organisation and the volunteers.  This section will consider four areas:

Providing feedback to the volunteer

Feedback provides volunteers with information as to whether they are on the right track with their work and how they interact within the organisation. It shows that the organisation considers their work important and it provides timely opportunities to redirect work that might not be on target. Feedback enables the volunteer to know where the work they are doing contributes to the organisation. It also provides opportunities for volunteers to give feedback to the organisation about their needs and concerns with regards to the work they are doing.

Appraisal is a periodic formalised process for evaluating the work of volunteers, providing feedback and planning corrective action. Many organisations now plan a formal appraisal system for their volunteers, which is agreed to and implemented at the time the volunteer takes on a new role. This is a two way process: volunteers know their work will be evaluated according to predetermined criteria identified in the job description, and the organisation commits to providing support and assistance to enable the volunteer to achieve their goals.

Regular appraisal formalises the organisation’s ongoing commitment to effectively supporting and supervising the volunteer.

Performance appraisal should not be the occasion where poor performance is brought to the attention of a volunteer. This should take place during feedback, provided on an ongoing basis. Performance appraisal provides an opportunity to consolidate and build on regular feedback. Depending on the program and the needs identified, volunteer performance appraisal may need to be scheduled every six or twelve months.

Questions to consider during a volunteer performance appraisal:

  • Does the job description really describe what the volunteer has been doing?
  • What has the volunteer’s performance been like in each area of their role? Evaluation should be conducted against specific and agreed objectives
  • What external factors could be limiting the volunteer’s performance in any of these areas?
  • How does the volunteer relate to those they work with?
  • Have the volunteer’s goals for the period been achieved? Achievements should be acknowledged
  • What areas of concern exist (may be related to volunteer performance or relate to organisational factors)?
  • If there are areas where goals were not met, how can these be improved?
  • What are the goals for the coming period?
  • What resources are needed to help the volunteer achieve these goals?

Areas to consider in a volunteer performance appraisal:

  • Fulfilment of the agreed job responsibilities
  • Achievement of volunteer’s development goals
  • Future goals
  • Job role
  • Personal development
  • Plan for achieving agreed goals

Personal and professional development

In any organisation, the primary aim of involving volunteers is for the volunteers to enable the organisation to achieve its identified objectives. Organisations also need to acknowledge their responsibility and to help volunteers identify and achieve personal goals as part of the mutual benefits achieved through volunteering. The performance appraisal and planning process provides an opportunity for organisations and volunteers to clarify their expectations and the resources available for further personal and professional development.

Strategies for enhancing personal and professional development include:

  • Enhancing job roles
  • Increasing volunteer’s level of responsibility
  • Changing volunteer role
  • Updating and upgrading training available to volunteers within the organisation
  • Linking volunteer into external training opportunities through partnerships with other organisations, sponsorships to attend development programs, or development opportunities within the community
  • Conducting workshops which focus on volunteer’s areas of interest
  • Sharing skills of staff and volunteers within the organisation through seminars and workshops

Program evaluation

It is important to regularly review the performance of the volunteer program as a whole. It provides a measure of performance, identifies areas for improvement and can be used to promote the benefits of working with volunteers in your organisation. Commentators suggest three approaches to evaluating a volunteer program.

Measuring outcomes of the program

This method is based on examining the outcomes of the program, such as volunteer hours provided, number of clients assisted or dollars raised by volunteers. This requires initial records as a comparison

Measuring customer service provided by the volunteer program

This method utilises client and staff surveys to determine how effective the program has been, the level of satisfaction, how the program might be improved, while capturing positive stories around volunteer involvement

Measuring the volunteer program against outside standards of operation

This can involve auditing the program against the National Standards for Involving Volunteers in Non-Profit Organisations. There are a range of tools available to assist you in this process. For more information, visit Volunteering Qld’s website

Enhancing volunteer involvement

There are a variety of ways to enhance volunteer involvement:

Encouraging self-direction

  • Informing volunteers of the wide variety of roles available in the organisation
  • Providing role descriptions which identify required outcomes but provide the opportunity for the volunteer to determine how to achieve those outcomes
  • Providing clear organisational standards for behaviour/action which all staff of the organisation are expected to abide by
  • Developing volunteer teams with responsibility for an identified task/role with support and assistance, but not direction from higher in the organisation
  • Involving volunteers in identifying their own development needs and organising programs for ongoing education throughout the year
  • Making it part of organisational culture to regularly spend time with volunteers to review where they are at and what their goals are

Building responsibility and authority

  • Entrusting volunteers with responsible roles within the organisation, rather than limiting them to simple or ancillary roles
  • Clarifying the limits of authority for each volunteer role
  • Providing support which enables volunteers to do their work without controlling their way of working
  • Ensuring the organisation is responsible in the way it works with the volunteers
  • Providing opportunities for volunteers to take on additional responsibilities as they are ready to. This may include supporting other volunteers, leading teams of volunteers or roles where they can utilise specialist skills
  • Acknowledging volunteers’ responsibilities in publications

Encouraging volunteers to have a say

  • Establishing project teams with the remit to work on particular issues
  • Suggestion books/boxes
  • Having regular team meetings with areas for improvement as an agenda item
  • Recognising when the organisation acts on volunteers’ suggestions
  • Providing feedback as to why a suggestion was or could not be implemented
  • Asking volunteers for their suggestions as issues arise, whether as part of a regular review or anytime
  • Informing volunteers of issues/changes effecting the organisation and asking them for their suggestions
  • Making feedback and input a priority, rather than leaving it to the end of meetings
  • Only asking for volunteer input in areas where their input will be considered
  • Involving volunteers in your organisation’s strategic planning processes 
Not-for-profit Law have developed an e-learning module covering the legal obligations involved in the process of recruiting volunteers. It includes interactive activites, instructional videos and realistic scenarios to help you recruit volunteers fairly and safely, while maintaining a high quality...
Queensland Government media release Queensland is home to more than 700,000 active volunteers, each playing their part in making the state’s thriving communities more resilient and vibrant places to live. Today (5 December) is International Volunteer Day, an opportunity for Queenslanders to...
The Australian Government is inviting applications via an open process to apply for funding to support volunteers under the Volunteer Grants Activity. Volunteer Grants aim to support the efforts of Australia's volunteers. The grants provide small amounts of money that organisations and community...
Queensland Government media release Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford has urged Queenslanders to celebrate the efforts of volunteers who ensure the safety of communities right across the state. Mr Crawford said like all Queenslanders, he was in awe of the “ordinary people,...
National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation's volunteers. From 21-27 May 2018, thousands of events will be held across the country to say thank you to the six million Australians who volunteer their time. The week-long celebrations will...
Blue card services has announced a new online form which allows applicants to click through to complete. The new form is part of a commitment by Blue Card Services to streamline the application process. The form has built-in smarts to make sure all the information required is provided on the first...
Volunteering Queensland offers accredited training for volunteer managers with a Certificate IV in Coordination of volunteer programs. The qualification is appropriate for workers who are responsible for the coordination of volunteers within a program or organisation. Volunteer coordinators provide...
The 2018 Queensland Volunteering Awards are now open for nominations. These awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of volunteers, volunteer managers and volunteer-involving organisations, and promote the importance of volunteering. This year alone 980,000 individual...
International Volunteer Day is celebrated worldwide, on 5 December, to recognise the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world. Estimates suggest that there are a billion people in the world who volunteer each year and those numbers rise when tragedy strikes. In Queensland, alone, more...
Volunteering Queensland’s State Volunteering Conference will take place on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 June, in Brisbane. The conference will offer attendees strategies and good practices to maximise the contribution of volunteers and enhance the impact of a volunteer program. There will be the...


Are you looking for support in Queensland, or trying to find a service that meets your needs? Now you can search oneplace , the service directory hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission. oneplace is an easily accessible directory of community services to help Queensland families to get...
Volunteering Services Australia (VSA) is a national network of community development services, that aim to assist the hundreds of not-for-profit and charitable organisations with the recruitment and management of volunteers. It is a member-based organisation committed to community engagement and...
The Queensland Disaster Management website and the Get Ready website have a range of information and useful resources that can assist you to plan and prepare for an emergency. As part of your preparedness and planning for weather events, access regular weather forecast updates from the Bureau of...
A Blue Card Services online learning portal has been launched. The portal contains 10 videos which provide an overview of the legal requirement for organisations to develop a child and youth risk management strategy. View these resources on the Blue Card Services website .
Industrial relations legislation in Queensland can be found on the Fair Work Commission's website . The main pieces of legislation are: Fair Work Act 2009 Fair Work Regulations 2009 Fair Work Commission Rules 2013
There are a range of legal structures which may be suitable for Queensland not-for-profit community groups. The four main options are: an incorporated association: Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (QLD) and Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999 (QLD) a company limited by guarantee:...

December is the perfect month to do some good by helping those most in need over the festive season.

Countless families are struggling at Christmastime and the pressure on them is often more challenging than any other time of year.

By sparing your time as a volunteer you could ease...

Joel Ainscough, Queensland University of Technology

In the midst of a changing work environment there are some factors that employers in non-profit organisations may need to consider.

Provided here are some human resource management tips for consideration in the modern Australian workforce.

Work-life balance

The term “Work-...

See videos from StudioQ related to this topic

Share or Print