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

~ June 2005 ~ Topics

Tips for the Recruiting Speech

Volunteers and managers of volunteers often are asked to make speeches about their programs. This opportunity to "share" and recruit is not to be missed, but public speaking is not everyone's cup of tea. Here are some tips to make the best recruiting presentations.

1. What is my message? What message are you trying to convey. Having no more than three key points is essential.
1. Our organization makes the entire community healthy by serving the needs of animals through shelter, neutering and spaying, and adoption. 2. We provide these services to animals and their human owners. 3. Volunteers guide the programs and provide many of the services.
2. What does my audience want to hear? Who is the audience? Seniors. Service clubs. School children. Professional Association. Each of those groups has a different interest.
Professional association members understand the need for literacy. They hire employees, some with marginal math and/or reading skills. Organize the speech to their concerns and how the Literacy Program is working, with the help of volunteers, to make their personnel more literate.
3. Start with an attention getter. Avoid jokes. You are bound to offend someone and it is a clichéd way of starting a speech. Start with a short quiz or startling fact.
Did you know 1 in 5 young people in our county will spend at least one night in jail before they are 18 years old?
4. Organize the main messages. Remember those three points of your message mentioned earlier. Now is the time to provide basic, but memorable information in a clever way to help them understand the message. Do not swamp them with details or organizational jargon. Stay on message, get to the point, use vivid examples of the service provided by volunteers. Tell the volunteer story, not the organizations.
5. End with an appeal. An appeal is called the "ask" in sales terminology. This is a summary of the information and a chance for you to help the listener see him/herself as a volunteer.
I have shared with you our mission and the vital role of volunteers in achieving that end. But, this isn't about what volunteers give, it is also about what volunteers get. If you think you might like to change the world for the better, we can find a place for you in our organization.

Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Volunteer Recruiting & Retention: A Marketing Approach, by Nancy Macduff and The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions, by Mary Kay Hood.

Details for Volunteer Recruiting & Retention Book Details for One Minute Book

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Targeted Motivation

Volunteers come to their volunteer position with different types of motivational needs. The responsibility of the organization is to provide an environment where those motivations can be met. Knowing what motivates helps the manager of volunteers develop techniques to meet those needs.

Motivational Need Definition
Affiliation Those with affiliation needs like to work with others and be around people. They are quick to help with organizing parties and fun types of activities. Techniques: put them on committees to plan recognition events or parties for clients or members, give them mementoes of those "parties."
Information Some volunteers are sponges for information. They often evaluate their volunteer experience based on how much they are learning and how intellectually stimulated they are. Techniques: give them new tasks to challenge them, send them to workshops, offer the opportunity to learn new things that will help the organization achieve its mission.
Volunteering As Lifestyle Volunteering every day at several different organizations is a way of life for some people. They are energized by being a full time volunteer. Forget golf for these folks, it is not a motivator. One important thing they need is flexibility to meet the needs of the many organizations for whom they work. Techniques: Be flexible in work assignments, give them visibility within the organization, and give recognition for service that is visible.

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Creating a Vision for the Volunteer Program

The volunteer program can stay as it is today or it can change because the manager of volunteers is a visionary. Some folks are natural visionaries, but for most of us it requires an intentional and deliberate effort to develop that skill. This exercise can begin the process to develop a vision of what a volunteer program can be in the future.

Visioning Exercise

1. Put a check mark by the metaphor which best describes your vision of what best describes the future of your volunteer program.

A. Roller Coaster _______
The future twists ahead of us in the dark and we can only sees portions of the changes ahead of us. We are locked in our seats and cannot change what is laid out for us.
B. Wide Ocean _______
Many possible destinations and ways to get there. If we navigate carefully, and plan our trip we can arrive safely. Unless we encounter a huge storm at sea.
C. Big River ________
The force of history pushes us along in the flow. Only natural disasters change the river. We can however, adapt our relationship with the river by avoiding sand banks or shallow water, and knowing the best path through the rapids.
D. Dice Game ___________
Everything is random and chancy. We can only hang on for the ride , play the game, hope lady luck will take care of us, and we will end up a winner.

1a. Why?

2. What didn’t you like about the other choices?

3. Do you think you control the future? How much do you think you can control the future?


The capacity to vision is important to a good future. Visioning is an act or the power of seeing or using imagination. Some people need to improve their visioning capacity. Others haven't used it in a while and need to dust it off and put it to work. Here is a visioning check up.

How Do You See? A Visioning Self-Assessment

2 3 4 Excellent
1. Do you have a good imagination? Do you dream and fantasize?          
2. Do you have a good memory? Do you look at the past?          
3. How well developed is your "future vision?"          
4. Have you practiced visualizing several futures?          
5. Have you tried changing your vision, by wearing different "glasses?"          

What ever your vision scores, you need to practice visioning, if only to improve your skills. Next is an exercise to help you practice visioning.

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Volunteer Program Metaphor

1. Now is a chance for you to create your own metaphor for your volunteer program in the future. What best describes you vision? Use something familiar to you—a hobby, activity, or animal. Do not worry about cute or clever. Keep it simple and real.

2. Using the metaphor write down in broad terms what it would take to get the program to that spot.

Here is an example:

1. The metaphor for my volunteer program is a soccer team. Soccer teams win best when people play together, not as individual stars. Also players learn everyone else's skills at a basic level. There is respect for the contribution that each position makes to winning games.

2. Broad plan

  • Map out the positions and skills needed for the "team."
  • Assess volunteer skills as they relate to the map.
  • Read up on building a team.
  • Get two volunteers to agree to change jobs for a short time and report to you about how it works.
  • Get volunteers on advisory group to help build a more team like environment.

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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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