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

~ July 2006 ~ Topics

The Art of the Deal: New Skills for Recruiting
Online Activities—What Works for What Age

The Art of the Deal: New Skills for Recruiting

The new forms of volunteering (See Volunteer Today May and June issues) are requiring different skills in finding volunteers and then outlining expectations. Traditional volunteers work from the position description and carry out work based on what they are told to do.

The Entrepreneur, Vigilante, or Occasional volunteer rarely work from a "script" designed by someone else. So the manager of volunteers is put in the position of negotiating a "deal" with the volunteer about what they will do and what they cannot do. Here are some tips on making good deals.

Start with honesty. Never promise more than is possible. Be clear about expectations, limits, rules, or legal issues.

Know the background. Visit with the person. Check the references and ask penetrating questions of the references. Do not hesitate to talk with managers of volunteers where the person has given service in the past. Know as much as possible about the background of the individual.

Be open to inventiveness. The non-Traditional volunteer is likely to come to the organization with ideas about how to do things that might seem strange at first blush. Get them to do pro/con lists, talk through their ideas. Relate everything to mission. What is your organization's mission and how will their efforts further the mission. Avoid saying no, or we tried that before and it did not work. Even if that is true. Times change and what was not possible 15 years ago is possible today.

Keep leaders informed. Volunteers doing new and inventive things can scare the leaders of organizations. Keep the leaders well informed and have a "process" to recruit and evaluate the non-Traditional volunteer and get them working for the good of the organization. This helps sell the notion of new ways for people to volunteers. The manager of volunteers grows more comfortable with the "deal" making activities, and as non-Traditional volunteers are successful it will build confidence in leaders of the organization. Keeping everyone informed is key to this part of good deals.

Watch for deal breakers. It is easy to think you and a volunteer have an agreement about the service he/she plans to give. Miscommunication can derail that assumption. One way to do this is with a valuation process. Decide on what is valuable for both parties—the volunteer and the organization. That value is what drives all decisions and plans. It helps with focus, too! And it helps to write things down, if only in a summary email.

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Online Activities—What Works for What Age

Recommendations abound for using the Web and/or Internet to communicate with, recruit, or train volunteers. Good advice, depending on whom you are trying to recruit. Look at this list of online activities by age and apply the information to the things you are doing for volunteers.

Online Activity % of Teens % of Adults
1. Play on line games. 81 32
2. Send or receive instant messaging. 75 42
3. Get information about colleges. 57 45
4. Send or receive email. 89 90
5. Get news about current events. 76 73
6. Look for news or information about politics. 55 58
7. Look for religious or spiritual information. 26 30
8. Buy things such as books, clothing, music. 43 67
9. Look for health or fitness information. 31 66
10. Look for information about a job. 30 44

Source: The Pew Internet and American Life Project 2005

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Interested in more information? Check out our online bookstore for: Episodic Volunteering: Organizing and Managing the Short-Term Volunteer Program, by Nancy Macduff and The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions, by Mary Kay Hood.

Details for Episodic Volunteering Book Details for One Miinue Answer Book


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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