Software Advice and VolunteerMatch partnered together to survey 2,735 not-for-profit professionals around the globe. Their objective was to determine how many not-for-profit organizations measure their volunteer’s impact. This “measure of impact” refers to any attempt to quantify how much the work performed by volunteers creates economic or social change. Results found that only about 55% of not-for-profits collect data to measure the impact volunteers have on outcomes. Furthermore, findings also concluded that of the 45% of the organizations that do not collect data, 34% lack the resources and tools to do so. Another finding was increased funding, through either donations or grants, is the key benefit of impact measurement for 17%.


For the 55% of respondents who do collect data – their data ranges from quantitative, qualitative and financial nature, or a mix of all three. Some have a formal process for collecting data and employ it on a recurrent basis, whereas others employ a more casual approach to get a general understanding of their volunteers’ impact.


For the remaining 45% of organizations who do not measure their volunteers’ impact, reasons why are mainly attributed to: a lack of resources and tools, lack of knowledge and skills, lack of time, and some believe it is not important. However, only 6% believe that the collection of data is of unimportance – whether because their not-for-profit engages too few volunteers, their managers already understand their volunteers’ impact without a formal assessment, or because leadership does not care to find out.


British mathematical physicist and engineer, Lord Kelvin, said “if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” This statement is also true for not-for-profit management. Diane Knoepke, managing director of client leadership for IEG Consulting says that “few nonprofit leaders want to spend time measuring impact; they want to spend their time creating and facilitating impact. But we well know that what goes unmeasured often goes undermanaged.” A lack of tools is a great barrier to measuring impact, but these barriers can be overcome through the implementation of free and low-cost survey tools. There are dozens of free and affordable survey tools available (e.g. Survey Monkey). Additionally, managers can simply collect feedback by asking an individual and can then add context to the feedback using quantitative and financial data. In-depth, face-to-face interviews or telephone interviews yield high response rates and more accurate data, although they are more labour-intensive.