People will volunteer at your organization for many reasons, but their perception of your organization will attract them initially. Do not assume that the public knows what your organization is and what it does. Think about recent publicity, existing marketing materials (do they include information on volunteer involvement?), and public perception of your client group and cause. It is important that people associate your organization with value to the community.
To counter incorrect assumptions, be prepared to respond to questions regarding your organization’s successes and failures, its mission, and characteristics that distinguish your organization from others doing similar work. The more clearly you understand your organization’s image, the better able you will be to stress the positives, correct misconceptions, and target the people who would feel comfortable affiliating with your organization.
Decide How to Recruit
Part of recruitment involves public education, building the public image of your organization or cause. Therefore, your recruitment campaign should have multiple purposes (e.g., recruit volunteers; raise funds; educate neighbors, community providers, and school groups).
- Options for recruiting include the following:
- Using current volunteers—they are convincing salespeople, because they are committed to your cause and believe in your organization.
- Using the mass media (e.g., television, radio, newspapers, billboards), as well as neighborhood newspapers, newsletters, and organizational bulletins.
- Making announcements at services, educational sessions, meetings, and social gatherings of your congregation or organization.
- Posting volunteer opportunities on appropriate Web sites.
- Making personal appearances at schools, senior centers, career fairs, and other venues or events.
- Giving slide shows and videotape presentations.
- Staffing booths and exhibits at special events.
- Using mailings, from mass mailings to personalized, handwritten notes.
- Getting referrals from staff, ministers, friends, and lay leaders, such as deacons.
- Registering with volunteer referral organizations.
- Volunteering in other organizations’ projects.
- Coordinating with schools that require community service hours for graduation, (ex. CSUSM meeting and event planning program students).
- Asking people to volunteer—most people volunteer because they are asked.
Volunteer Referral Services
Volunteer referral services can be of great help in directing potential volunteers to your program. Your organization should register with any clearinghouse, database, directory, or program offering volunteer referral services in your area. Volunteer referral services may be citywide, countywide, statewide, or nationwide. Faith-specific and nondenominational volunteer service organizations (VSOs) provide volunteers to work full time for a prescribed period of time in positions within the community.
Faith-specific VSOs include Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps, Brethren Volunteer Service, Episcopal Church Volunteers for Mission, Interns for Peace, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Jewish Organizing Initiative, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Mennonite Voluntary Service, United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, and Volunteers of America. Nondenominational volunteer service organizations include AmeriCorps and VISTA. Most of these organizations are listed in phone books and have Web sites.
Other Sources for Volunteers
You can find volunteers almost anywhere, but some additional sources include
- People in recovery
- Community associations
- People from shelters
- State denominational offices
- Persons mandated to perform community service
- Stay-at-home mothers
- Service providers
Volunteer applications may vary, depending on the level of detail you need, but minimally you’ll want to gather information about the applicant’s qualifications; work and volunteer experience; and skills, interests, and motivations for volunteering. This information can help you identify possible roles for the volunteer.
Desired Traits in a Volunteer
- A sense of humor
- Organization or leadership skills
- Interest in or a personal connection to the cause
- Positive attitude
- A heartfelt desire to serve
Meeting with volunteers before bringing them on board is essential. You may employ two basic types of volunteer interviews:
- An interview to determine the prospective volunteer’s skills, interests, and boundaries(i.e., activities in which the applicant would not like to be involved) in order to assign the individual to a particular role.
- An interview for a specific position to determine whether an applicant meets the requirements.
Sample Interview Questions
- What would you like to know about our organization?
- What attracted you to our organization?
- What types of work have you done before? What did you like best about that work?
- What kinds of experience or training have you had that would help you contribute here?
- How do you deal with situations that don’t go as planned?
- Would you rather work on your own, with a group, or with a partner? Why?