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Volunteers On the Move

Volunteer Voice - Spring 2010


Volunteer exit survey

Volunteers are an important asset to 
MD Anderson. There is a great deal of time that goes into the recruitment process, and now there is a process to follow when volunteers decide to conclude their MD Anderson volunteer experience.

In 2007, a survey designed by the Gelb Consulting Group was successful in soliciting the feedback of active volunteers regarding what they liked and didn’t like about the program. Based on the excellent feedback, Gelb was again enlisted to help create a questionnaire for volunteers leaving the institution. Volunteer Services is always concerned about the early departure of volunteers and wanted to learn why volunteers choose to leave their positions and what they might do better to motivate them to continue volunteering.

The exit survey is important to evaluate the work of Volunteer Services. This new survey has provided information showing that from the time a volunteer completes an interest questionnaire to the time of the volunteer preview orientation, approximately 90 percent of volunteers continue through the process to placement.

“There are many variables that enter the equation of when volunteers choose to no longer volunteer. A changing job market, personal schedules and the health of an aging volunteer population will affect the total number of active volunteers,” says Wayne McHatton, associate director, Volunteer Services business operations. “The good news is that the exit survey showed us that it is not simply volunteers losing interest in volunteering.”

“We try to be direct in our recruiting,” says Mary Jackson, program coordinator. “We explain our programs and show two videos highlighting the patient and volunteer experience, which we feel make a big impact on a potential volunteer. And, although we always ask for a volunteer commitment of six months, we still lose some volunteers early on. After the amount of time and resources spent to integrate a volunteer into a placement, we hate to see them leave.”

Several years ago, according to records kept by Volunteer Services, the department lost the highest percentage of volunteers in the 10-48 hour range. However, current statistics show that more volunteers now depart in the 200-hour and greater range, McHatton says. He believes this shift illustrates an increase in volunteers’ satisfaction with their program placement, but recognizes that much can be learned from the reasons volunteers give for ending their volunteer association with MD Anderson.

Jacquie’ Frelow, volunteer coordinator, says that they believe that most volunteers will respond to the survey. “This is their sounding board and an opportunity to tell us about what we’ve done well and what we need to improve on.”

“We’ve been pleased to learn from the exit surveys already conducted that Volunteer Services is doing a good job,” Jackson says. “It appears that most volunteers leave due to circumstances beyond our control such as moving, changes in careers, continuing education and family demands on time. The survey also shows that 83 percent of volunteers leaving would choose to return to volunteer at MD Anderson if their circumstances were to change. Some 91 percent of those responding say that they would recommend the program to others.”

The exit questionnaire is simple and easy to respond to. Both Jackson and Frelow explain that they are truly interested in why a volunteer leaves MD Anderson. Most importantly, they want to show all volunteers that Volunteer Services really cares about their experience.


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