How KPIs Can Make Volunteer Groups More Successful
While associations often rely on key performance indicators to measure financial and operational success, they can also be used to track the impact of volunteer groups. Implementing KPIs will not only help strengthen committee projects and initiatives but also the goals of the larger association.
Jessica Irizarry, director, chapter strategy and program development, at the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has been working in volunteer management at the organization for eight years. This year, she took a new approach to strategic planning for the volunteer groups she manages.
“For the first time, I developed KPIs [key performance indicators] for our volunteer committees,” she said.
Just as they help track a company’s strategic, financial, and operational achievements, KPIs can be a useful tool for associations to measure the performance of volunteer groups.
“I framed the discussion around our goals, the metrics we’ll use to measure impact, and the outputs and outcomes,” she said. “KPIs can offer a lot of clarity and understanding of next steps both for your volunteer committees and your staff liaisons.”
Irizarry shared how implementing KPIs can help frame a volunteer group’s initiatives, track its goals, and give members a clear understanding of their responsibilities within the group.
Focus on Mission
Irizarry recommends using your association’s mission and core values as a starting point for the KPIs.
“I aligned standard activities to the association’s core values and mapped special initiatives and projects back to them as well,” she said.
Before ASID green lights any special initiative, the volunteer group must answer the “what” and the “what for”—in other words, what the project is and its purpose.
“For us to prioritize the project or initiative, the volunteer group would need to map it back to our core values,” Irizarry said.
Understand the Metrics
As you develop the KPIs, associations must also consider output and outcome metrics. According to Irizarry, an output metric would be a tangible product, such as a white paper or webinar series, while an outcome metric would be a measure of the impact of that product on the larger community or on your bottom line.
By tracking output and outcome metrics, Irizarry said an association will learn how the product performs with members, and your volunteers will get to see the results of their time and work.
“You can show your volunteers how their involvement in the project contributed to the larger community,” Irizarry said. “Understanding their impact can help them determine their own ROIs.”
Prioritize Member Input
Though Irizarry only launched the KPIs a few months ago, members are already receptive to the new approach.
“This framework removed a lot of ambiguity,” she said. “It was easy for us to say, ‘Here’s the initiative, here’s how it aligns with our core values, this is how the group will be able to accomplish these goals by doing x, y, and z.’”
She recommends involving members in the development so that the process is a dialogue rather than a prescriptive order.
“You’re looking for members’ advice and interests,” Irizarry said. “Once there’s a consensus and you’ve confirmed alignment with your core values and mission, you can identify initiatives and develop output and outcomes around those issues.”
In addition, developing KPIs can help maximize the most valuable commodity that volunteers give to associations—their time.
“With KPIs, volunteers will have a better understanding of their roles,” Irizarry said. “If we aren’t showing value when we use someone else’s time, they’re less willing to give us more of it in the future.”