Receiving constructive criticism can be tough – especially after putting hours into an event. But, when applied well, these critiques can be the key to making your next event a bigger success. Here are a few tried and true tips for receiving and integrating feedback from your volunteers into your next event:
A great way to avoid a surprise piece of feedback is to simply ask your volunteers to comment on their experience. Give them a space to be heard while providing them with a few points to jog their memory: Was it easy to sign up? Were the station instructions clear? What is one thing they would include next year?
Acknowledge The Feedback
Sometimes criticism isn’t neatly packaged in an email. When a volunteer speaks their mind (solicited or otherwise), it can feel personal. First, pause and choose to view their opinion as an opportunity to connect with them and show them you care about their experience. Then, thank them for their feedback! Whether verbally or in an email, they probably won’t expect it (in a good way).
Create A Plan
Now it’s time to use this insight to make your next event even better. Here are a few ideas based on common feedback we’ve heard from volunteers:
- The event is too far away/coincides with another event or personal plans. If your volunteer numbers are low, consider how a different day or location could allow your volunteers to more
- The event was disorganized. I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to be or do. Try promoting a volunteer to a leadership role. Ask a trusted volunteer to help manage a station or shift next year. Oftentimes, your volunteers have a better working understanding of how responsibilities fit together on the job.
- I wasn’t challenged. Suggest a different role that may better suit their skill-set or even just shake things up. Providing fresh opportunities and areas for your volunteers to grow will give them a reason to come back.
- My job was more than I signed up for. We’ve all been there – we sign up for a task and before we know it several other responsibilities are tacked on to the original description, making it a larger time commitment than we planned. Be honest with yourself about how many volunteers you need and consider increasing the number of volunteers in that specific shift.
- Lack of communication. This is by far the most common complaint volunteer coordinators receive. No one likes to feel uninformed. Try using your volunteer management software to connect with your volunteers before and after the event. Send messages and updates to your volunteers by event, job, and shift to keep them in the loop throughout the event process.
It all comes back to communication. Hearing and responding to feedback — especially when unflattering — will elevate your volunteers’ experience, encourage volunteer engagement, and give them a reason to come back. Nothing takes the sting out of a piece of negative feedback like a returning volunteer!