Volunteers are the lifeblood of many organizations. Volunteers can provide great value by helping with everything from small tasks to high level strategic leadership. However, finding good volunteers can prove to be a great challenge. To develop a solid volunteer recruitment strategy, it is useful to consider these three issues:
- What is in it for a volunteer? Why should they be involved in your organization?
- What kind of skills are needed?
- Make it easy for your organization’s members to volunteer
Your Value Proposition
Everybody is very busy these days. You need to lay out some good, concrete, benefits to volunteering. Here are some examples:
- Meet fellow organization members and immediately create trusting relationships
- Learn skills you could not normally develop at your job
- Build your leadership abilities
- Strengthen your own personal brand
- Generate quality business connections and leads
- Make our fabulous meetings industry even better
- Have fun!
This one is actually kind of tricky. Someone who is new to recruiting volunteers might think that the best way to place an individual is into an area needing skills that are the same as his or her profession. Unfortunately, this is usually very far from the truth. An accountant, for example, may actually want to do something quite different from bookkeeping (which he or she does all week!) Your organization may offer the opportunity for that person to develop complimentary skill sets. An accountant, for example, will tend to be quite analytical. So consider that you do not have to put him or her in the organization’s finance department. Perhaps there is some other situation where analytical thinking will help. An accountant might also be great at event logistics, for example.
It is best to create a Volunteer Interest Form. On that form, you should provide a list of skills that are useful for your organization. That way the prospective volunteer can specify what actually is of interest.
Here are some examples of open ended skills to put on your volunteer form:
- Event planning
- Developing business relationships
- Building and engaging members
- Communications from email to phone calls
- Social Media
Make it Easy to Volunteer!
The last part is letting your organization’s members know that volunteers are needed. Here are some good ways to get the word out:
- Committee Fairs
A well-organized committee fair can deliver dozens of prospective volunteers to your organization. Make sure to have plenty of Volunteer Interest Forms and the leaders of each committee represented. It’s popular to have a table for each committee at a fair, but why not try some other approaches? In particular, if the fair is tied to another event, you will pretty much guarantee higher participation. If the fair is tied to the event theme, then people will have more fun and be open to the possibilities.
For example, if your event is a 70’s night, how about having your committees represented by people in gaudy outfits? Even better, tie it to a game like bingo and give prizes to people who visit each committee. Not only will it be more fun, but it encourages unanticipated synergies that can take your committees to the next level.