The value in volunteering: How organizations define impact

There are many ways to define impact when it comes to volunteering.

Volunteer programs affect the people who participate, the organizations that send them and the organizations that receive them on the ground.

“You can measure across all those different aspects,” according to Daniel Elliott, key client manager for PYXERA Global, which means there is not a standard definition of impact in terms of global pro bono programs, although this is something PYXERA — a member of the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance — is working on.

The organization’s annual benchmark survey, for example, collects interesting data in terms of the effect that corporate volunteer programs have on employee retention, loyalty and dedication. And host organizations that receive volunteers express that they wouldn’t have been able to afford those same consulting services on the open market, Elliott said.

There are many ways to look at monitoring and evaluation when it comes to volunteering, noted Erin MacLeod, monitoring and evaluation officer for Cuso International, which also recruits skilled volunteers for projects.

One approach is results-based management, which looks at specific development outcomes and changes at the beneficiary level. So while volunteers report that they get a significant amount out of the experience themselves, Cuso is also able to demonstrate their contribution in terms of skills and knowledge transfer at the beneficiary outcome level.

Watch this Google Hangout to find out more about why both groups focus on skills-based volunteering.

Tell us your own volunteer story on Facebook or tweet us using #DoingMore, and check out all Doing More content here.

Doing More is an ongoing conversation hosted by Devex in partnership with Australian Red Cross, Cuso International, IFRC, MovingWorlds, Peace Corps, Scope Global (formerly Austraining International), United Nations Volunteers, Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance and VSO.

About the author

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    Kelli Rogers

    Kelli Rogers is an Associate Editor for Devex. Based on the U.S. West Coast, she works with Devex's team of correspondents and editors around the world, with a particular focus on gender. She previously worked as Devex’s Southeast Asia correspondent based in Bangkok, covering disaster and crisis response, resilience, women’s rights, and climate change throughout the region. Prior to that, she reported on social and environmental issues from Nairobi, Kenya. Kelli holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, and has since reported from more than 20 countries.

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