Tips and tools for recruiting volunteers: two rules to follow

Recruiting volunteers can be time consuming and difficult. This article is the first of a series that will help volunteer managers to maximize their efforts when seeking additional volunteers.

Recruiting volunteers can be difficult. We’d like to offer some tips and tools to help you be more effective when recruiting volunteers. Before we get too far, let’s think for a minute about why, as nonprofit organizations, we recruit volunteers. As staff members of nonprofits, our individual reach can only go so far. There are only a certain number of hours in a day and unfortunately, we can’t dedicate all of them to serving the audience we care so much about. When we recruit volunteers to support our cause, we engage people who care about our mission as much as we do. We empower them to act on our behalf, which then allows more people to be served.

The Independent Sector tells us that volunteers choose to serve for a number of reasons besides caring about the mission of the organization. Yes, they want to make a difference, but they also want to use an existing talent or skill or gain new ones, connect with new networks, express their faith or grow as an individual by building self esteem. They might also be seeking a sense of balance in their life and want to give back to a community that they feel gave a lot to them. As you think about recruiting volunteers, keep these motivations in mind. If you can figure out what drives your audience to volunteer, you can tailor your message to really inspire and persuade them to get involved.

Volunteer recruitment builds upon the organizational need for volunteers and the understanding of the kind of volunteer needed for the job. The “type” of volunteer identified becomes the target audience for your recruitment messages. Remember the following rules of recruitment before beginning the process. First, be specific and tell volunteers exactly what is needed and expected of them. This will help them know if the position is right for them. Second, be honest about the position, the time involved and the length of commitment. You might be tempted to undersell the commitment or requirements because you’re desperate for volunteers; however, recruiting the RIGHT person will ultimately save you from having to recruit another person if someone leaves because he or she felt they had been lied to or finds that the position is not a good fit.

Following these two rules will make utilizing volunteers much easier after they have been selected and put into action. It’s good to have your volunteer position descriptions available when recruiting so that you can keep your opportunities and their requirements in mind when talking to potential volunteers.

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