Funder Questions About Organizational Capacity

Funders seek to assess the overall capacity of a nonprofit to strategically engage volunteers. Through grant proposals and dialogue during site visits, nonprofit leaders have the opportunity to ensure:

  • Grant makers have specific information to use in determining that your request is viable.
  • Grant makers are aware that you have assessed how your organization measures up to a set of recognized standards for volunteer involvement.
  • You and funders have informed dialogue that strengthens your relationship.

Use the questions below to prepare a proposal and speaking points on your organization’s overall capacity to engage, empower, and sustain volunteer resources and increase impact through strategic engagement.


Volunteer Involvement

  • How does your organization determine the best way to involve volunteers in meeting its mission?
  • In what specific roles does the agency involve volunteers and are those roles developed in response to real needs of the organization and community?
  • To what extent does the volunteer pool reflect the diversity of the community your organization serves?
  • Does your organization engage volunteers in roles that leverage their skills and treat them as equal members of work teams? If so, how?


Organizational Commitment to Volunteer Engagement

  • Is volunteer engagement articulated in your strategic plan?
  • Do organizational leaders actively support and model strategic volunteer engagement?
  • Is there a budget to support volunteer involvement (e.g., technology, training, equipment, recognition)?What percentage of the agency budget does it represent?
  • Is there a professional dedicated to volunteer engagement on staff? What is that person’s experience or qualifications for the position? Where is that role within the organizational structure—does its position reflect the resources this individual manages?
  • Are volunteer engagement policies and procedures comprehensive, clear, and consistently applied?


Training and Professional Development

  • How are volunteers trained or oriented about their work and your agency?
  • Do additional staff members supervise volunteers in the agency? If so, what training do they receive to prepare them to manage their unpaid staff?
  • How does the organization train and develop its volunteer board of directors?


Impact and Evaluation

  • How does the organization measure and communicate the overall impact of volunteer involvement?
  • What would the organization not be able to accomplish without volunteers?
  • How many volunteers does the organization involve on an annual basis in various roles – from direct service to pro bono roles?
  • What is the monetary value of the time given by volunteers annually? How does your organization determine this value?
  • Is volunteer supervision a performance measure or accountability indicator for staff? Is volunteer engagement included in staff job descriptions?


Project Management in Relation to Grant Proposal

  • How do volunteers enhance or support the project goals and your organization’s mission?
  • How will other staff ensure that volunteers are engaged effectively and have positive experiences?
  • Does the organization have a budget for volunteer resources management on this project?
  • What additional training, supervision, or evaluation strategies related to volunteer engagement will support this project?