Using volunteer impact data in reporting

Let's talk about using data in reporting.

Only a small slither of our volunteer manager population enjoys preparing reports. Creating a report about your volunteer programs and activity is easy to do if you have your data sorted and a simple process by which to organise it. But what if you don't? (Cue dramatic music and pause).

Now, for the truly awkward question - if you are a volunteer involving organisation (VIO), DOES your organisation prepare reports on all the activity and goodwill your volunteers are undertaking?

Why bother reporting?

Put simply, it gives your organisation credibility. In its National Strategy for Volunteering 2023-2033, Volunteers Australia (VA) indicates that volunteer contribution is broad and multifaceted but rarely measured or recognised. More so, the strategy indicates a need for VIOs to measure and account for volunteer efforts in their financial reporting. By articulating the value of your resources (such as the monetary worth of the volunteer contribution) organisations can more accurately reflect their financial position and needs. To remedy a lack of data VA has indicated in its Governance Blueprint it plans to include mechanisms for accountability and oversight, such as regular reporting (among others).

How to use your reporting data

Think beyond monthly, quarterly or annual reports (which, by the way, should include a mix of the quantitative impact data you extract from Be Collective and qualitative impact data you glean from discussions with recipients of your programs / activity).

How else can your organisation use the data and reports from Be Collective?

Informed planning: One BC client noticed that incoming volunteer registrations for a city wide event were dominated by volunteers living in the CBD, and not fully representative of their city at large. To expand the volunteer base next year, this charity plans to deploy a recruitment drive within the suburbs immediately surrounding the CBD. This idea germinated by understanding the 'where volunteers are located' vs 'where volunteer opportunities are located' in both Key Insights and Analytics Hub.
Marketing: expanding on the above, this charity might execute its recruitment drive with targeted marketing campaigns through paid/organic social media or by pitching editorial ideas to local radio. Knowing more about your volunteers, their demographics, interests and skills will help ensure your organisations messaging is tailored and packs a punch.
Grant applications: during its 'Volunteer Management & the National Strategy' webinar, Volunteers Australia vocalised the need for reporting data in grant applications. To reinforce this point, a volunteer manager detailed how aligning a grant application to the national strategy reaped results. For example, your data can be used to demonstrate alignment to inclusive practices in government funded priority areas: new migrants, people with a disability and Indigenous communities (and bonus points for non-funded priority areas of youth, unemployed and vulnerable women).
Social Record / CV: don't forget, even your volunteers are curating impact reports on their own participation in volunteering. On a simplistic level, the Social Record incentivises volunteers to participate in long-term relationships. On a more constructive level, they also help build pathways to employment, further education and a better understanding of skills development. (Refer back to VA's priority areas to understand the value of this!). You're offering your volunteers something valuable in return for their time. Volunteer Managers can now see a breakdown of social impact value by volunteer in our new Analytics Hub.
Corporates can use the quantitative data to find correlations between employees who participated in employee support volunteering, the causes that drive them and other measures such as employee satisfaction and wellbeing.
Local Government can also use the quantitative data to find correlations between community members who participate in volunteering (and where they volunteer) and community members experiencing unemployment or social isolation. They can also determine if areas enjoying more or less volunteering have any correlations to more or less crime.

A few final thoughts on reporting. Firstly – make a start (if you haven't already). Rather than simply presenting data, use the insights to tell your story in a more compelling way. Balance your success stories with statements that highlight which programs require ongoing or new investment. Lastly, tailor your reports for your target audience. Consider how different recipients might interpret your story (ie Board members, funders, government bodies volunteers, etc.)

If you need guidance with your report, let us know. Each of our Be Collective subscription plans (from Be Collective’s Standard’s reporting snapshot to Be Collective Pro’s in-depth Analytics Hub have value to offer your organisation.

Further reading:
What reports are available by subscription plan on Be Collective?

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