FareShare fights hunger and its underlying causes by unlocking large volumes of high-quality surplus food from the food and drink industry and redistributing it to frontline charities and community groups, so that it can be turned into meals and fed to vulnerable people.
FareShare secured funding from Nesta to expand its volunteer force and scale-up the redistribution of surplus food.
The charity recognised the need to get better at targeted volunteer recruitment and retaining volunteers. However, they had very little information about their volunteers to inform the development of plans, as the volunteering team was a new development for FareShare.
Insley Consulting was commissioned to evaluate the volunteering programme to provide an evidence base for FareShare’s plans for expansion.
“The evaluation exceeded our expectations. Emma was friendly, solution-focused and thoughtful throughout.”
Head of Volunteer Recruitment and Engagement
EVALUATION OF THE VOLUNTEERING PROGRAMME
The aim of the evaluation was to help FareShare capture information about volunteering activity, gain deeper insights on the background of volunteers, a better understanding of volunteer satisfaction and the difference that volunteering makes in their life. This information would be used to inform the development of FareShare’s plans to increase volunteer recruitment and retention.
THEORY OF CHANGE
One of the most important aspects of monitoring and evaluation is to measure what matters. Therefore, the evaluation began with a Theory of Change workshop to better understand the volunteer’s journey and identify what to measure and how.
Within the workshop, which was attended by staff, volunteers and the funder, we mapped out the likely impact of volunteering activities on volunteers.
As part of this process we identified the most important things for FareShare to measure and illustrated this within a Theory of Change diagram.
Next came the important consideration of how to measure change. We decided to capture data at three key intervals in a volunteer’s journey, as well as an annual survey, to track changes over time. This was summarised within an Evaluation Framework.
SURVEY DEVELOPMENT AND ANALYSIS
We developed four volunteer surveys to be sent out over a 12-month window. The annual survey had a very good response rate, giving us confidence in the findings.
An important part of our work is to understand how information is currently being captured by a client, and where possible, utilise existing tools and systems. We therefore used ‘Get Feedback’ as a survey tool, which integrates with FareShare’s new volunteer management system on Salesforce.
When data from the surveys had been captured, we analysed responses and produced Excel dashboards for each of the 21 Regional Centres and for the network as a whole. This informed improvements that could be made at a local level, as well as centrally.
We conducted focus groups with volunteers in four locations to better understand how each centre operates, expand on the findings of the surveys, and gather feedback from volunteers about the improvements that could be made.
TRAINING AND CAPACITY BUILDING
We produced a monitoring and evaluation guide so that FareShare could continue to evaluate the volunteering programme after our support ended. We also delivered webinars to local Volunteer Managers on how they can capture qualitative feedback from volunteers in the future.
We brought all of the information together into an evaluation report that provided a solid evidence base to inform the development of plans for the volunteering programme (see the Executive Summary here). We also gave recommendations about how to improve the volunteering experience to increase volunteer satisfaction.
A key aspect of our work is to ensure that evaluations can be used to inform funders and inspire future support. Therefore, our report included charts, quotes, photographs and stories that bring the data to life.
“We now have the evidence to support our work plans and make better decisions about activities to increase volunteer recruitment and retention.”
Head of Volunteer Recruitment and Engagement
Through its volunteering programme FareShare is achieving two important social benefits – good to eat surplus food is not wasted, and instead is redistributed to charities to feed vulnerable people; and the operation of redistributing food brings a multitude of benefits to volunteers themselves.
With demand expected to grow further, FareShare is well-placed to ensure that volunteer hours are aligned to need, and more food than ever is redistributed to vulnerable people.