Volunteer Program Assessment at Northern Illinois University

The Volunteer Program Assessment (VPA) at Northern Illinois University is a free volunteer assessment service offered by faculty and students in the psychology department. Led by Professor Lisa Finkelstein, graduate students get an opportunity to work with non-profit organizations to maximize the effectiveness of their volunteer program and improve the experiences of their volunteers. Organizations who participate in the VPA receive valuable information about the strengths and weaknesses of their volunteer program that is benchmarked against normative data. The VPA at NIU is one of a group of VPA partner teams that provide similar services across the U.S. and Canada. Surveys completed since 2009 across six VPA teams are used as normative data to provide client organizations insights into the issues the many other volunteer programs struggle with and inform best practice recommendations.

NIU VPA representatives partner with the organization to manage the collection of survey responses from their volunteers, generate a report with an executive summary of the results, and share and discuss the report during a final consultation call. NIU VPA representatives provide support throughout the process from timing the collection of responses, sending survey links with information about how to communicate with your volunteers at different stages, and providing comparisons of the organization’s results to national norms during the final call. The volunteer survey assesses individual and organizational outcomes like burnout and intention to remain a volunteer. We work with coordinators of volunteer programs to help them understand what the results of this survey means for the perceptions and attitudes of their volunteers and provide them with ideas to improve their volunteer program.

Interested in Being a VPA Client?

If you are interested in participating as a VPA client, contact us at niu.vpa@gmail.com to start the application process. We respond to inquiries as soon as possible, but there may be a wait time as our representatives work with current clients.