Project Closure

At the end of the project, it's important to address several logistical matters:

Clean-up

Ask everyone do his or her part. Have project leaders lead volunteers in cleaning up the site/area so well that it looks better than it did when they arrived. All materials should be used, donated to the service site, or stored safely. All tools should be returned to their respective areas. Don't forget to collect trash and dispose of it appropriately.

Celebration and Recognition

Volunteer recognition is a must! You should make sure that volunteers feel appreciated and invite them back to serve again.

Reflection

Reflection provides volunteers an opportunity to think about their service and how it impacted them personally. Reflection activities help volunteers connect to the mission of the project.

Evaluation

Evaluation and feedback are necessary for improving your projects. The information gathered in these forms will help your program better meet the needs of your volunteers and your community. We already reviewed the importance of reflection earlier in this course.

Now, let's take a look at clean up, celebration and recognition, and evaluation in greater detail.

 

Project Clean-up

Cleaning up is an essential part of any project. Although it isn't often a popular activity, it is necessary to maintain the cleanliness, organization, and look of a project site. While still on site, make sure to engage volunteers in the clean-up process. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Collect any food-related trash such as wrappers, empty water bottles, cups, etc. Empty any unused, non-reusable products into proper containers and throw away. Collect all stray plastic and paper products on the ground. Gather up the garbage in plastic bags and dispose of properly.
  • Break down the registration table and break area, if applicable. Store the table, chairs, and other furniture in their proper place. Store any extra forms/papers you have; you may be able to use them at a later time. Collect the sign-in sheets, volunteer waiver forms, and any other signed forms for your documentation.
  • Make sure no personal belongings are left at the site.
  • Collect any unused tools, materials, or supplies, and store them safely or prepare them for transport back to the storage location.

When finished, do a final walk-through of the site to make sure it’s in the same condition in which you found it.

Celebration & Recognition

Thumbnail for [node:title][user:name]At the end of the project, take time to celebrate and recognize the volunteers. A time of celebration and recognition will help bring a sense of closure to the project, as well as letting volunteers know that their efforts are appreciated. Your clebration and recognition can be the same day as the project (at the project site or off-site at a local resturant) or later in a different location. Showing appreciation for your volunteers is a great way to get them to come back!

The simplest acknowledgment and appreciation practices are often the most effective. When showing volunteers that you care, make sure to:

  • Deliver recognition in a personal and honest manner.
  • Tailor your recognition and reward to the unique needs of the people involved. Have a variety of recognition and reward options available. This enables an organization to acknowledge accomplishments in ways appropriate to the individual and the situation.
  • Celebrate even the smallest contributions throughout the project. Every little bit counts!
  • Reward volunteers close to the time that the volunteering occurs. Time delays weaken the impact of the recognition program.
  • Have a clear message. Be sure that volunteers understand why they receive awards and the criteria used to determine awards. Create a clear, well-communicated connection between accomplishments and the recognition received.

The most important way to recognize volunteers is to treat them with respect and give them support and praise throughout the project. You may want to combine your reflection and celebration activities. Reflection done in conjunction with celebration leads to more effective volunteerism; you are giving volunteers the opportunity to think and discuss their experiences and the relationship of service to the larger social and personal concerns.

Feedback & Evaluation

Evaluation and feedback are different than reflection. Evaluation is about the actual project — the work, planning, coordination, delivery, implementation, logistics, and management. Feedback is a gift. Use it as an opportunity to reflect on the overall management and implementation of the project. You can use many methods to solicit feedback from volunteers, staff, community members, and others.

The most popular, time-efficient way to get feedback on-site is to ask those involved to complete an evaluation form at the end of the project before everyone leaves. Doing this allows the volunteer experience to stay fresh in their minds; you can get immediate feedback from volunteers very quickly. Do not ask volunteers to put their names on these forms; people are more comfortable giving anonymous feedback. Do not react or respond to any feedback given while at the project site. If a volunteer gives you his/her name and contact information, you should call him/her soon after the project to discuss matters further.

If immediate feedback is not an option, you can mail or e-mail participants a feedback form within a week of the project. You can attach a feedback form to the thank you letter or follow-up correspondence. If you are mailing the form, include a stamped return envelope; this increases the likelihood of getting a returned form. No matter the method of collection, do not be hesitant to ask your project leaders, volunteers, and service site contacts for their feedback. Most people will be happy that you asked.