Recruiting judges to serve as volunteers

Event judges are already serving in a volunteer role, so how about recruiting them as volunteers to serve in other roles for your program?

What do talent shows, science fairs, art exhibits or other events like county youth fairs have in common? If they involve some type of competition, there are likely some judges involved. In non-competitive events, people who are serving as judges are used to give feedback on a performance or project. If you have a program that is volunteer-driven with competitive and non-competitive events that use judges, have you thought about recruiting your judges to be volunteers in your program?

Programs may have different types of standards for selecting their judges for different types of events. One question that comes to mind is, “Does the person need to be an expert for the subject or division of the competition they are judging?” If the answer is yes and you have a judge who is an expert, you have an opportunity to recruit a volunteer who can lead a club or program in that subject or project area. If the answer is no, you still have a potential volunteer for your program. As you are getting to know these types of judges, take the time to find out their interests or areas of expertise to help you put together a recruitment pitch and help them see where they can fit or volunteer in your program.

If the judges are not familiar with your organization, Michigan State University Extension advises marketing your organization so they can learn who you are. It helps to give out marketing materials, fliers or brochures that give information on the different programs and opportunities your organization has to offer—especially if there are folders or judging packets. Also, be prepared to provide information on how they can serve as a volunteer in your program outside of judging.

Recognizing volunteers who serve as judges can increase your chances of recruiting them as volunteers to serve in other roles in your organization. There are different ways to recognize volunteers serving as judges through the different types of volunteer motivation. For example, giving certificates and personalized thank-you letters would appeal to achievers; creating networking opportunities to get to know other judges sometime before or after the event would appeal to affiliators; and providing opportunities for the judges to serve on an advisory board, be an advocate for your organization, take pictures with the director or be part of the coordinating committee of your event would appeal to power motivated volunteers. Provide an opportunity for a variety of these ways to encompass all the judges to get them to volunteer with your organization.

With the challenges of recruiting volunteers, judges at events can be a target audience for new volunteers. Put yourself in a position to showcase and market your program to recruit them to become volunteers in your organization.

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