Volunteers are the backbone of any mentoring organization.
Many programs would not be able to function, raise funds or serve the mentees if it was not for a dedicated group of volunteers. What kind of volunteers does your organization need? More importantly, where do you find them and how do you know they are the right ones? Recruitment is an important task for leaders of a volunteer-led organization and of course, finding the right volunteers makes a world of difference in the success of your organization.
Here are five ways you can find the right volunteer for your organization.
What are your organization’s goals this year? Have you and your leadership staff performed a needs assessment to determine what skills sets are needed to help you carry out your task? This is baseline information you should use to guide your search for the right volunteer. If you do not know what you need, how will you know 1. What to look for and 2. How will you know when you have found the right one. Understanding your needs is the first step to recruit the right volunteer for your organization.
Let us face it, you have seen the generic social media pleas for volunteers on your newsfeed and timeline for ages. You know the one that says, “we need volunteers, contact us here” or “If you have the time, we would love you to work with us”. Now, I am sure at some point this was an effective request for a volunteer’s help, but today these generic requests will no longer cut it. You must be specific with your request. Have you ever applied for a job that did not have a job description? Chances are you have not. Volunteers do not either. Take the time to craft a carefully thought out message that explains what they are volunteering for. This will increase your chance of success. When people know what the duties entail beforehand they are likely to respond.
Titles are important.
Susan Ellis of Energize, Inc, once said that the word volunteer is a pay category and not a work identifier. Meaning the word volunteer just means you will not get paid for the work that you will do with this organization. There is no need to rub that in someone’s face, right? Volunteer recruitment should be based on a person’s ability or skillset so when you recruit them, use the titles that they will work under. Titles such as project manager, accountant, board member, mentor, these are all adjectives used to describe the work they will do. This distinction is particularly important when asking for help from interns. If you do not have the ability to hire your intern, the least you can do is make sure they can use their time with your organization as a resume builder.
Ask yourself, would you do this for free?
I have seen on several occasions where a program will have this extensive list of grunt work that they want someone else to complete for them. This could include making cold calls or reorganizing the supply closet. The bottom line is, if it is a task that you would not do for free, do not request others to do it for free either. Volunteering is supposed to be a win-win for the individual and the organization. Do not ruin it by asking them to do a mundane task that they will regret later. That will cause resentment and burn out. Volunteering is something people do in their spare time. You are asking them to choose between doing something they love and helping you. Make the opportunity fun, engaging, and something they will not regret giving up their free time for.
Go where the people are.
This last one should seem like an easy decision but, casting wide net appeals rarely bring the results you need. After you do an assessment of the skill set you desire in a volunteer, after you have crafted the perfect title, after you checked to see if this is something you would for free and after you determine what you specifically need help with, the last step to finding the right volunteer is to go where those people are. This needs a little more effort on behalf of the organization, but it is necessary. You may have a challenging time finding a graphic designer at a culinary arts school. Go where you are most likely to find the type of volunteer you are looking for. If you need a graphic designer, go to an art school. If you are looking for a communications person, going to a local college that has a communications program would be the best use of your time. Recruiting is time-consuming and finding the right talent takes effort. Promoting generic mass appeals to any and everyone will not yield a good result.
Have information available online.
Let us say all your appeals work and now you have someone who is interested. They are not ready to call but they are at least interested in looking further into your program to see if this is something they would like to do. They log on to your website or social media page looking for more information and they find NOTHING. I guarantee you have just lost your potential volunteer. Give volunteer recruitment the respect it deserves, post information about the opportunity everywhere that your organization has a presence. It is a known fact that everyone will search online, read reviews, and ask their friends about an opportunity before they call you. If more information does not exist, who will help them make their decision? Chances are no one will, and they will never call.