So you are looking to recruit volunteers! Without them, vital services would not run and your organisation would not exist. Although recruitment is your priority, you should first consider if your organisation is ready for new volunteers. Careful planning is the key to building a good foundation for volunteer recruitment. To help you plan and recruit effectively, below are five good practise tips:
1. Know your opportunities
- Ensure your volunteer opportunities help your group or organisation to meet its aims and objectives
- Prepare role descriptions which clearly explain the role, skills required and what is involved
- Acquaint yourself fully with each opportunity, including its purpose, responsibilities, its impact and what the value of the experience will be for the volunteer – what will they get out of it?
2. Remove those barriers
- Put together a process for application and screening and don't start recruiting until everything is in place.
- Ensure that everyone involved in the organisation knows who to direct enquiries to
- Respond promptly. In the past, if you bought something by mail order, you used to wait up to 28 days for delivery. Now we’re surprised if we have to wait four days! Consider answering initial enquiries within 24-48 hours, even if it is just to give them a clear idea of how long a proper response will take.
3. Consider what potential volunteers want
- Volunteering isn’t paid work. People mainly volunteer in their leisure time so are looking to spend that time doing something relaxing or enjoyable. Making volunteering enjoyable is crucial if you want to attract and keep volunteers.
- Really understand what drives your potential volunteers, their passions and interests.
- Be flexible. Have your roles in mind, but consider what would best fit around your potential volunteers social and familial obligations also. Perhaps they would like something more casual and outside traditional hours? Perhaps they would prefer to volunteer with friends and family?
- We’re not really competing with other organisations for volunteers. We’re competing with all the other activities that people spend their spare time doing
4. Make your recruitment message "user-friendly" and exciting
- Figure out what you have to offer the volunteer and sell it. You could ask your current volunteers what they get out of volunteering. Try to find something unique about your organisation and then make sure you mention it prominently in your recruitment
- Consider needs. Many posters and fliers make the mistake of talking about the group or organisation and what it needs (why you should volunteer for us). Instead, produce publicity that answers “Why should I volunteer for you?” At best those adverts simply blend in with all the other similarly worded adverts. At worst they ignore the fact that volunteers come to you because of something they want, not something you want.
- Consider answers to other typical questions that new volunteers ask such as: "What will I be doing? How often and when? Where?"
- Reassure volunteers that they will be trained and that you will support them; and avoid words and phrases such as "volunteers urgently needed" and "desperate" that scare volunteers away.
5. Get your message out
To enable as many people as possible to access your opportunities you need to get your message out in a variety of places and formats. Consider all available methods including:
- word of mouth
- leaflets and posters in libraries, colleges and shops
- talks and presentations
- local community, faith, school and neighbourhood newsletters
- websites such as your organisation’s and Volunteer Suffolk
- local media coverage – adverts and human interest stories
- social media
- employee volunteering