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

~ November 2004 ~ Topics

Editor’s Note: Shar McBee shared this recent article about her work by Rebecca Henderson. It deals with bringing in new people and making them feel welcome. We thought readers might get some ideas for recruitment. To purchase books authored by McBee, visit the Volunteer Today Bookstore.

Triple Your Attendance

People feel happiest when they feel they belong, according to Shar McBee, an expert at helping organizations increase members, volunteers and donors.

Start with a simple welcome. Include everyone. According to people who have used McBee's method, it's fun. "When people feel included, they support you," maintains McBee, "When excluded, they undermine you."

"We went from eighty members to 300 using this principle," says Dr. Eugene Callendar, pastor, St. James Presbyterian, New York City. "God sent Shar McBee to us for a reason," declares Pastor Robert Schwander, Community Church at Wurtsboro, NY, "Our Sundays have become exciting."

It's a natural tendency to gravitate toward the familiar. "Most people enter a room looking for a recognizable face," McBee explains, "They don’t feel safe until they've found someone to connect with. That's why it’s crucial to make a plan in advance to welcome everyone—new attendees as well as old."

McBee tells of an organization that was losing members:

"Attendance had been lagging at the meetings, so we did two things.

  1. We asked board members to say hello to everyone, spending extra time with people the board member didn't know.
  2. We created "Greeters"– five members who conversed with attendees. The five wore "Greeter" badges, then each one recruited someone else to be a greeter at the following meeting.

With this plan, everyone was assured of being welcomed by at least two people. We met monthly and initiated this welcoming policy at a June meeting. By August, we had tripled the attendance. Three times as many people were now attending the meetings!

None of this required extra time. It didn't cost money. The board members and the greeters were at the meetings anyway. Instead of talking to each other, they were reaching out to everyone."

Shar McBee's latest book is Joy of Leadership – The Only Secret to Your Success as a New Leader. Her website is rich with tips for attracting members and donors: http://www.ToLeadistoServe.com.

By Rebecca Henderson

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Invasion of the South

Demographers are predicting an exodus of 30 million Americans from cities of the North; Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia to cities in the Southern United States. Over the next 20 years the following cities will show dramatic increases in retirees.

San Diego, CA is expected to grow by 118%
Savannah, GA by 67%
Corpus Christi, TX by 81%
Scottsdale, AZ by 133%
Santa Fe, NM by 180%
Asheville, NC by 69%

American Demographics, September 2004

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Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Recruiting Volunteers for Difficult or Long Term Assignments, by Steve McCurley and Volunteer Recruiting & Retention, A Marketing Approach, and Designing Programs for the Volunteer Sector, by author and managing editor Nancy Macduff.

Details for Recruiting Volunteers Book Recruiting & Retention Book Image Details for Designing Programs Book

Recruiting Online: What Do We Know?

VolunteerMatch (http://www.volunteermatch.org/) is an online service where organizations and programs can list volunteer positions at no charge. Individuals can then search for volunteer positions in a geographic area of interest. In July of 2004 there were 29,000 organizations or programs listing positions, with 1.5 million visits per year by those seeking volunteer positions.

In late 2003, VolunteerMatch commissioned a study on what they had learned about online volunteer recruiting based on surveys of organizations and individuals seeking positions. Here are some highlights of their research.

    • Organizations have reported that the online recruiting service is second only to "word-of-mouth" as the most useful recruiting tool.
    • 85% of organizations said that the online recruiting service helped them find volunteers they would not otherwise have been able to find.
    • 90% of the organizations were satisfied with the quality of volunteers recruited online.
    • 25% of those using an online recruiting service had not ever volunteered.
    • Working with children/youth was the highest ranked area of interest for volunteering, second highest was with animals.

A full description of this study and its results appears in the Journal of Volunteer Administration, Volume 22, No. 3.


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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