Volunteer Satisfaction Surveys: How to Discover Volunteers' Levels of Happiness

Volunteering has been known to improve health and increases happiness. But how happy are the volunteers at your organization? Do you know? If not, there’s no better time to find out than at the beginning of a new year. Create a volunteer satisfaction survey to learn volunteers’ happiness levels with everything from volunteer scheduling to communication with leadership at your organization.

But where do you start? What should you include? Don’t let questions like these bog you down. Consider some of the following points as you create a satisfaction survey that will ensure your volunteers stay smiling.

Make a plan

Before you even begin writing the survey, identify what you’ll do once the information is collected. How will you communicate with volunteers that they were heard? Will you implement change, and if so, how? How will this connect to the broader organizational vision? Create a plan so that the survey is effective, useful, and brings about the types of benefits you want to see.

Determine anonymity

One thing you’ll need to consider is whether or not to make the survey anonymous. There are pros and cons to either approach. If you’re looking for feedback that may need detailed responses or some follow-up, such as changing roles or conflicts with others, you may want to ensure that you can identify who provided answers. However, if your questions are less open ended and your goal is to get a sense of the general health of your volunteer program, you may get more candid responses by allowing respondents to stay anonymous.

Stay succinct

Nothing will scare away potential responders like a lengthy survey. Avoid this by identifying the top 3-10 volunteer areas you’d like to gauge satisfaction on, and determine whether or not to do a deeper dive into other areas at another time.

Decide on a medium

Paper or digital? Although you might have already had one or the other in mind for this type of group communication, it’s a good question to ask yourself. Of course, you could develop the survey in both formats and distribute as appropriate, but consider where you’ll house the data and how much data entry you’re willing to do. Thinking through the medium will ensure you create a survey that works well for your volunteers and the organization members who will be tasked with compiling and analyzing the data.

Identify the questions

What you choose to ask about on your volunteer satisfaction survey will likely be deeply embedded in your organization’s culture, history, vision, and current experience. However, consider some of the following ideas when brainstorming what to ask your volunteers.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Determining if volunteers are bored or overworked is vital for the sustainability of any volunteer program. But often times, volunteers will hesitate to share for fear that they’ll look lazy or uncommitted. Remove those barriers by directly asking volunteers about their roles. Some specific questions you could ask are:

  • Do you feel challenged in your role?
  • Are you bored in your volunteer role?
  • Do you find that there are too many responsibilities associated with your role?

Hours, Availability, and Scheduling

Find out if your volunteers are content with the availability of service opportunities. Ask questions such as:

  • Do our current volunteer assignments work with your schedule? If not, what days and times would work better?
  • Do you feel there are enough volunteer openings? If not, how many and at what interval would work best (e.g., three openings each weekend)?

Onboarding, Training, and Changing Roles

It’s good to get a sense of how easy it is for volunteers to get into their roles, feel comfortable in them, and move on to other volunteer opportunities with more responsibility or new tasks as time goes on. To learn how volunteers feel about the volunteer flow, ask questions such as:

  • Did you have the information you needed to learn your role quickly?
  • Do you feel there’s a clear path to other roles or to gain more responsibility?

Commitment

Asking volunteers for too much commitment can often scare them away or burn them out. Gauge how your volunteer program ranks by including commitment-related questions on your survey. Here are some examples:

  • Is it easy to find subs when you can’t make it to a scheduled shift?
  • Is the length of commitment too short or too long (e.g., a year commitment is sometimes requested for certain volunteer roles)?

Improvements

It’s not a bad idea to include open-ended questions that allow volunteers to voice their own ideas for organizational improvement. When phrasing these, consider what would help you improve your organization’s programs the most. Here are a few examples of the types of open-ended questions you could include:

  • What are you most or least satisfied with in regards to the ease of communication at our organization?
  • What makes you feel empowered in your role?
  • How do you feel about the direction of the organization?

Apart from moving toward a healthier and stronger volunteer program, your entire organization could benefit from the insights you glean from the survey. Take time to invest in those furthering your mission, and chances are, they’ll give you feedback and ideas that will benefit the entire organization for years to come.

Need inspiration? Browse some of these templates to help get you started:

SurveyLegend Non-Profit Volunteer Satisfaction Survey Template
Survs Volunteer Satisfaction Survey Template
SoGoSurvey Volunteer Satisfaction Survey
SurveyMonkey’s Volunteer Feedback Template