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VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com


~ June 2005 ~ Topics

Dear Connie:

I want to broaden my recruiting efforts by using the Internet. What advice can you give me?


Dear BJO:

Using technology will definitely increase your recruiting efforts and increase the visibility of your organization and your volunteer program. Here are some things to consider:

I. What’s the Best Internet Tool?
  • Your organization's website is your top Internet recruiting tool and should include:
    • Brief description of your volunteer program.
    • Information that will educate potential volunteers about your organization's mission, program focus, and value to the community, as well as the value of volunteers to the organization.
    • Descriptions of available volunteer opportunities including skills required, training provided, and hours/shifts/days of week needed.
    • A volunteer application, either to be submitted online and/or downloaded to be submitted by mail or fax.
  • Link your website on websites of other organizations, such as local volunteer centers and local chamber of commerce, as well as specific organizations where you're hoping to attract volunteers.
  • Specific organizations, such as:
    • Young professional groups
    • Professional associations
    • Senior citizens groups (AARP)
    • Corporations
    • Listservs on specific topics or for specific audiences (environmental groups, retired teachers, etc.)
  • National Websites, such as:
    • http://www.voluntermatch.org – VolunteerMatch.org is one of the best-known sites to post volunteer opportunities. A "basic account" is offered for free and includes basic recruiting tools, online referral management, and tracking and reporting. A "community leader" account costs $11.95/month and includes the previous services plus enhanced listings, reposting privileges, customized referral email, listing duplication, exporting features, monthly account summary, donation solicitation feature, and 15% multi-zip discount.
    • http://www.idealist.org – A service of Action Without Borders, this site allows you to post jobs, events, volunteer opportunities, and projects for consultants.
    • http://craigslist.org/ – Craig's List is an Internet bulletin board that started in San Francisco and now serves major cities nationwide. Go to the home page to find the link to your city. You can post volunteer opportunities for free.
    • http://www.servenet.org/ – SERVEnet is one of the premier websites for nonprofit organizations looking to provide information and recruit volunteers. Your organization can create an account with SERVEnet in less than 5 minutes. After your account is approved, you will have the ability to post information and opportunities and automatically find volunteers for your opportunities.
II. Tips for Internet Recruiting
  • Wait to begin online recruiting until you have well-defined descriptions of available opportunities. Be sure to have an immediate next step for people who call or email (a date for a face-to-face meeting or orientation, for instance, even if it is several weeks away). Asking for volunteers but not responding to them immediately, or not having a method to immediately place them into your program, is like advertising a product you don't really have, which can cause hard feelings about your organization on the part of potential supporters.
  • If your organization cannot or does not answer email within 48 hours of receipt (two business days), don't include your email address as a way for potential volunteers to contact you. Instead, direct volunteers to call.
  • Make sure those who answer the phone know you are posting information to the Internet, in case there is an increase in phone calls regarding volunteer opportunities.
  • Remember to provide your organization's name, physical address, phone number, email address (if this is an acceptable way for potential volunteers to contact you), and web address, if you have one.
  • Keep your postings up-to-date; don't forget about them!
  • Provide enough information for people to make an informed decision about applying to volunteer.
  • If possible use an online application that can be submitted from your website.

Do you have a question? Now you too can ask an expert!

Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299

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