Monitoring and Evaluating the VLA Program

In order to serve refugees better through a volunteer staffing model, and ensure that those volunteers go on to advocate for refugee rights beyond their engagement with your organization, evaluating a VLA program against its objectives is a crucial step.

These objectives will likely contemplate both the provision of services to refugees, as well as more volunteer-centric aspects such as skills development.

Aims to evaluate could include: improving the skill development of volunteers, increasing the satisfaction of volunteers, and streamlining the organizational effectiveness of volunteers.  Below you will find examples of the objectives and intended impacts of all three program areas.

Volunteer-centric aims

1. Skill Development

a. Objective: Identify and develop critical skills for VLAs
b. Intended Impact: Help VLAs perform their duties and increase their employability in the refugee rights world

2. Satisfaction

a. Objective: Make sure that VLAs are satisfied with their experience
b. Intended Impact: Retain and motivate VLAs

Mission-centric aims

1. Legal Aid

a. Objective:Providing legal aid and advice for Refugees seeking Asylum, Providing Legal counsel for Refugees attempting to assert their legal rights
b. Intended Impact/Expected Result: Securing refugee status for people who would otherwise qualify to have their refugee status recognized but face discrimination or other barriers, securing social services such as education and housing, and promoting the rights of refugees to work and receive fair wages.

2. Community Empowerment
a. Objective: Supporting Refugee Community leaders, facilitating educational trainings
b. Intended Impact/Expected Result: Empowering refugees to navigate the systems in the country of refuge for themselves; increased rights-literacy; inclusion.

3. Strategic Litigation
a. Objective: Research, legal strategizing, judicial engagement
b. Intended Impact/Expected Result: Setting legal precedents in courts to protect the rights of wider groups of refugees

4. Policy Advocacy
a. Objective: Campaign for national, regional, and international policy change or enforcement
b. Intended Impact/Expected Result: Governments establishing standards and procedures for protecting the rights of refugees

Development of indicators

Based on the above objectives, here are some potential metrics to measure and qualitative indicators to report that you may choose to follow:

  • Objective: Identify and develop critical skills for VLAs
    • Number of critical skills that VLAs report they have developed
  • Objective: VLAs are satisfied with their experience
    • Indicator: VLA thinks that their job experience is useful or meaningful
    • VLAs are included in meetings and feel listened to
    • VLAs are retained
  • Objective: Increase the employability of VLAs in the refugee rights world
    • Indicator: # of alumni still working in this field
  • Objective: Ensure organizational effectiveness through VLAs as a staffing solution across all programs
    • Indicator:  e.g. Percentage of all refugee clients whose rights are enforced/ main problem is resolved
    • E.g. policy advocacy benchmarks met
    • E.g. Increased frequency of Know Your Rights trainings
    • E.g. Clients with longer-term strategic litigation processes can access comprehensive/holistic justice through psychosocial support, self-care.
    • (And other program-specific indicators)
  • Objective: VLA alumni network is a dynamic directory of refugee rights professionals who help members when requested
    • Indicator: Set up an online alumni and network directory, # of discussions / connections per quarter

Information can be gathered in mid-term and exit surveys, as well as through online surveys issued to the alumni network.