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VolunteerToday.com~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


Visit this page for ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

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~ January 2004 ~ Topics

What Do They Want?

One reason volunteers stay in an organization is the level of communication. They want to know information that not only helps them do their job more effectively, but provide insights into the workings of the organization. It might be such things as what problems the organization faces and how management intends to deal with the problems. Here are some key messages that when shared with volunteers makes them feel like they are part of the team.

Screen Beans with Key Image "This is our mission and purpose and here is how the volunteer fits into that."

"Here are the accomplishments of volunteers for the past month."

"What you do here is important because..."
"What are your thoughts and ideas about this issue?"
"I want to help you do your job better."

"Tell me how you think you are doing at this volunteer assignment."

"We made a mistake and here is how we are going to fix it."

Is it Passive or Active?

Recruiting volunteers can be active or passive. Passive recruiting is a way of getting the name of the organization and its program out into the community, and occasionally it will bring in a volunteer. Active recruiting brings the recruiter directly into contact with potential volunteers. It is the most effective form of recruiting. The list below comprises some, but not all, of the ways in which volunteers can be recruited. Below the chart is a self-assessment tool to see how much active-versus-passive recruiting you are doing.

  1. Drop a packet of brochures off at the local library on volunteer opportunities in your organization.
  2. Ask a local religious congregation to run an announcement about the need for volunteers in your organization.
  3. Put an ad in the newspaper for volunteers in your organization.
  4. Put flyers in local businesses that ask people to volunteer.
  5. Create radio and TV public service announcements to highlight the need for volunteers in your organization.
  6. A news article on the need for volunteers in your organizations internal “newsletter” or bulletin.
  7. Flyers and brochures on volunteering are done in languages other than English and placed in community businesses and organizations where people speaking those languages might pick them up.
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  1. Attend a worship service at a local congregation and give a short pitch for the need for volunteers at your organization.
  2. Set up a volunteer recruitment booth in a local shopping mall and have staff and/or volunteers actively distributing recruitment literature.
  3. Organize a speaker’s bureau of volunteers and visit each community service club to do a presentation on the programs of your organization and the need for volunteers.
  4. Develop a volunteer recruiting campaign where “each one gets one.” Volunteers are encouraged to find friends to volunteer.
  5. Attend ethnic community events, with volunteers who speak the language, and distribute information on your program and the need for more volunteers from this specific community.
  6. Community businesses and locations are identified for people speaking a language other than English. Once a year a recruiting table is set up in those community locations. People who speak the language and are volunteers or affiliated with the organization are available to answer questions and talk about volunteer opportunities.

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Our Style of Recruiting - Self Assessment

Directions: Review the sample list of passive and active recruiting techniques above. In the columns below write down those you currently use in both the active and passive columns. Give yourself one point for each one you do.


Use more rows if you need to.

Scoring: Add the numbers in the passive column and write in the total cell; do the same for the active points. Add the two numbers together.

Total Passive Points  
Total Active Points  
Sum of Total Points (TP)  
PP / TP =  
AP/ TP =  

Divide the total passive points (PP) by the overall total (TP) to arrive at the percentage of recruiting done passively. Do the same thing with active (AP) to determine the percentage. If you have a higher percent of passive recruiting than active it might explain why there are fewer volunteers.


Total Passive Points
Total Active Points
Sum of Total Points (TP)
PP / TP =
AP/ TP =

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Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Building Effective Volunteer Committees, by Nancy Macduff and The Board Member's Guide, by Jeanne Bradner. For more information, check out these books and more at our online bookstore.

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The Points of Light Foundation has forms available to nominate volunteers and volunteer organizations for the Daily Points of Light Award. It is designed recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate unique and innovative approaches to community volunteering and citizen action, with a strong emphasis on service focused on the goals for children and young people set by the Presidents Summit for American's Future. The award is given five days a week, excluding holidays. If you would like nomination forms, call 202-729-8000.

By calling 1-800-VOLUNTEER in the U.S., individuals can be connected to their local volunteer center.
This is a national interactive call routing system designed to get volunteers connected to people who can help them volunteer.

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