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The Recruitment and Organization of Volunteers page and the Management & Supervision page have been merged into one new page. Everything from ideas to help you work more efficiently to the latest in research on keeping volunteers happy and productive, as well as ideas, suggestions and hints to build volunteer recruitment capacity.

~ May 2008 ~

Planning—What Is It In a Volunteer Program?
  1. A means of exercising self-control
  2. Using an orderly process that accomplishes change, and maintains the purpose of the volunteer program
  3. A process of obtaining and providing information necessary for decision making  A process that helps one cope with, and adapt to, the present and the future
  4. Thinking things through before acting
  5. Designing a system that enables redesign and renewal
  6. Fostering a learning process for groups and individuals

    Always consider facilities, service, and technology when planning.

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How to Create a Brochure
  • Tell one story to one audience.  A single vehicle cannot address multiple ideas or appeals to multiple audiences.
  • Write out the purpose of that brochure.  Is it designed to sell (a class), to recruit (adult males), to inform (phone service), or to set an image (X Program)?
  • Write to the specific purpose you have in mind.
  • Keep it simple.  Use one major photograph, illustration, or design element.  Use only one family of type.   Keep your headlines bold and larger than your text.  And don't cost yourself extra money by making an odd-sized brochure that won't fit into a mailing envelope if the brochure is intended for mailing.  Make it easy for people to read.  Don't make your type go in different directions.  Determine the reading level of text.  Sixth grade reading level is in line with many popular publications.
  • Make your headline tell the story.  On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.  Headlines should appeal to the reader's self interest by promising a benefit.  Don't use tricky or irrelevant headlines.  Use words that contain an emotional impact.
  • Your text should contain facts, simply stated, and explain the benefits of your information to the reader.
  • Your visual element should be the most graphic, appealing, poignant picture of your theme.  Don't use 10 pictures in a small space.  Use one or two.  And don't crowd your picture with people.  It will have no focal point.  The same goes for illustrations and design elements.
  • Make the best use of your space.  There is a lot to be said for the effective use of white space.  But, watch out for blank space.  It will look like you had nothing to say.
  • If your brochure has a return coupon, make sure that when your reader tears it off he doesn't return to you important information that he needs to keep.  Also watch to see that the reader is left with your organization's name and address.  If he tears that off and returns it to you, how can he contact you again if he needs to?
  • If you need to prepare something for reproduction and you don't know how, ask for help.  From whom?  Local professional artists, photographers, writers and printers.  Maybe local newspaper photographers and reporters would be willing to volunteer their time.  Or, if there is a junior college, college or university near you, contact the journalism department and the art department for assistance from students. 


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Volunteers Want Flexibility

Many volunteer programs continue to operate in the world of the 1950s—recruiting for volunteers who need to come one or two days per week, every week, for years and years.  This is the 21st century and people are accustomed to flexibility in the work place.  Employers have figured out that providing flexibility improves attendance and productivity. 

  • A large insurance company increased its retention of female employees from 77% to 88% when it instituted a six month maternity leave and flexible return-to-work program

  • Absenteeism among workers dropped 50% when the employee made use of flexible work options and family leave policies at a consumer products company.

  • A technology company turned decisions about work schedules over to employees in one of its service centers.  The result was a 30% drop in absenteeism, better customer service, and higher morale

        Recruiting volunteers is impacted by changes in what people expect, based on their employment experiences.  Episodic or short-term service is getting to be the “norm” in many work places.  So, too, the nonprofit or voluntary organization needs to redesign jobs that were first designed three decades ago.  Find ways to allow flexibility for potential volunteers.  Advertise and promote your willingness to be flexible.
         If you are serious about building an intentional program for short service or episodic volunteers get some help in designing it.  Washington State University has an online course in Episodic Volunteering.  It is part of their Advanced Volunteer Management professional development certificate program, but can be taken as a stand-alone class. For more information visit http://capps.wsu.edu/certificates/vmcpadvanced/

Source:  Ragan’s Management Resources; Employee Recruitment and Retention, 2007.

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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