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5 Crucial Questions for VBS Evaluation Forms for Parents

Getting feedback after your VBS program is incredibly important. Here's how we (strategically) collect survey feedback after our VBS every year.

I learned a valuable lesson a few years ago that applies in just about EVERY area of ministry. (In fact, I would say that there isn’t ANY area in or out of ministry that can’t apply this principle.) And it’s so crazy easy to implement. 

The big lesson I learned from putting on an Orange VBS is pretty simple:

Make all of your “post-VBS” plans “pre-VBS.”

Of course, this is not a principle that is new to anyone. But for some reason, everything that needs to happen leading up to an event takes priority over all important follow-up tasks.

Luckily, my team is diligent to plan ahead for our post-event planning. Now, you can substitute anything for “event” in that sentence—post-season, post-school year, post-launch, post-meeting, post-training, etc. But the important idea here is that making a plan before you’re exhausted and completely “over it” will make this year’s VBS better AND affect next year’s VBS. Don’t let the momentum stop when VBS ends!

How We Structure Our Post-VBS Plan

Here are some of the items that we put on our post-VBS to-do list:

  • Plan VBS Volunteer Appreciation
  • Set VBS Debrief Meeting Dates
  • Create a System for Making Notes to Remember for Next Year
  • Create a Plan for VBS Evaluation and VBS Feedback

Today, I want to focus on that last item.

Getting feedback from different groups that are part of your VBS program is incredibly important. I highly recommend getting feedback from at least your VBS volunteers and your VBS families. Our most effective method of getting this feedback is with VBS Evaluation Forms.

For more pro tips, or if you’re looking to learn more about Orange VBS, check out the Orange VBS Facebook Community. I learn a ton from the leaders in that community every week.

How To Ask for Feedback

For families, we prefer to give parents a short survey that they can fill out right there before leaving VBS on the final day. For our team, that’s just easier—while the experience is in the forefront of the parents’ minds. But if you prefer, you can definitely create a digital survey to send via email or use a tool like SurveyMonkey or Wufoo to collect feedback.

Regardless of your method of sending out a survey or form, the real key is ensuring you have relevant and helpful questions. Start with your ministry’s goal for VBS and craft your questions around that specific item to determine if you achieved your goal and how you can improve for next year.

As a stab in the dark, I would guess that most churches have a similar goal for vacation bible school; something like, “reaching the community and influencing a kid’s faith journey.”

Your VBS Evaluation should make every parent feel like they are known and are part of your ministry family. Therefore, I would recommend steering clear of directly asking parents whether or not they already attended or have ever attended your church on an evaluation form. Ideally, you’ll already know this information based on their registration information and your regular attendance rolls.

Sample Questions to Ask Every Year

Feedback forms can quickly become a place for negativity, and that’s definitely not the goal! A few questions that we ask in a very positive way are below:

  • What was your child’s favorite part of VBS?
  • My child(ren) enjoyed VBS and got a lot out of it. (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, Strongly Agree) – BE SURE TO LEAVE SPACE TO EXPLAIN
  • What is one positive experience your child(ren) had at this year’s VBS?
  • Suggestions or comments on how to improve VBS in the future?
  • VBS was well-organized and ran smoothly. (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, Strongly Agree) – BE SURE TO LEAVE SPACE TO EXPLAIN

Set Up Your Volunteer Recruiting for Next Year — This Year

Pro-tip. I know I said there were only five crucial questions for your VBS Evaluation Form. But I’m sneaking in a BONUS sixth question that I think you’ll really appreciate!

The bonus question is . . . 

Are you interested in volunteering for VBS in the future? (YES, NO)

That very last question we ask parents has been SO helpful for us in the past! We ask them right there whether or not they’re interested in volunteering for VBS in the future. And they can simply circle “yes” or “no”. This is not a commitment. And it doesn’t need a lot of explanation. It’s just a way to gauge interest and get some names to put on the list for contacting about volunteering next year. You’re already getting started on the right foot for your next VBS!

Here’s the only catch—our evaluations are anonymous, so we have someone quickly scan the response to this last question as forms are turned in and get names and email addresses for anyone that marks “yes.” This ensures that parents know their feedback is still anonymous. But it presents the opportunity to show interest at the end of a SUPER-fun week for their kids!

Making The Most Of Your Feedback

The feedback you collect from these forms will often provide really encouraging stories to share with your volunteers and team leaders. Don’t miss this opportunity to share the positive comments far and wide! Also, feel free to include your church’s leadership on these notes of encouragement if you’re sending them out over email. Bragging about the impact your team has had will earn INFLUENCE, INFLUENCE, INFLUENCE!

Now, for the next step in this VBS Evaluation process: reviewing the feedback. What do you do with all of the surveys or forms once they’re turned in? It’s easy to let these forms sit in a pile on your desk—always a reminder that VBS isn’t quite over yet. But that’s not really very helpful. So let’s put a SIMPLE plan in place to make sure parents are heard and we take their VBS Feedback to heart.

Analyzing Your Feedback

We generally do a one-touch sorting process. This simply means that we (meaning me) read the forms and put them into a few different piles.

I sort them by feedback that is . . . 

  • Helpful and should be noted for next year’s VBS
  • Helpful but should remain private (I’ll explain)
  • Not helpful

Helpful and should be noted for next year’s VBS

The first category is pretty self-explanatory. These cards will immediately be transcribed into a spreadsheet or a document with ideas for the team to consider either at our VBS debrief or as we start planning for next year. Remember that this is a great way to make it easy to recall lessons learned this year when you begin working on next year.

Feedback that is helpful but should remain private

The second category is a bit tricky. In my experience, we occasionally get feedback that is worth noting but not anything I should share with the team. It either calls out a person specifically or has the potential to hurt someone’s feelings. Again, this is pretty rare. But it has happened. And these cases should be investigated further, if possible, and then addressed appropriately.

Not Helpful

The last category is for all of those suggestions that would take your VBS program off track or away from the mission of your ministry. It’s important to have this filter in place because your goal or mission should always be the driving factor in your decision-making process and planning process.

Have Your Very Best Summer!

This is a lot of information. Pause for a breath – you’ve got this!

Remember, a strategic and helpful process requires sifting out many of the questions we tend to want included.

Learn more about Orange’s complete VBS kit, join the Facebook Community to keep learning, and have your best summer yet!

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