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ASK CONNIE

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

~2011 ~

Dear Readers:

Many of you ask me periodically about the best recruiting techniques.  I usually respond, “Well it depends.”  If you’re recruiting people who already have specific skills (computer expertise, customer service, editing, etc.) then you need to do a little “profiling” to identify where to send your recruiting messages so they reach people with the specific skill(s) you’re seeking.  On the other hand, if you’re seeking volunteers who don’t have to have specific skills or you’ll train them, then you can distribute your recruiting messages more broadly (newspaper, emails, website, flyers, program notes, etc.).  I also recommend that you pay attention to the “look” of any printed materials.  Photos should reflect not only your organization, but also your volunteer program.  Materials should feature photos of the types of volunteers you’re seeking.  For example, if you’re recruiting 20-somethings, then you don’t want to use photos of only senior citizens.  I know that’s an extreme example, but you see my point.  And, I encourage everyone to make sure there are no misspellings or incorrect information in your printed materials.  Mistakes reflect on your organization and your volunteer program.  Potential volunteers will assume that if you don’t have time to produce accurate information, then their time might not be used wisely either!

One thing I never considered is the effect of color in the recruiting materials we create.  I recently read an article, “The Psychology of Color in Marketing,” http://www.nightcats.com/samples/colour.html where author June Campbell outlines some North American color attitudes and associations.  Since recruiting is both art and science, why not utilize the best color palette to attract the volunteers you’re seeking?  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The effects of color differ among different cultures, so the attitudes and preferences of your target audience should be a consideration when you plan your design of any promotional materials.

For example, white is the color of death in Chinese culture [while in North America it represents purity and new beginnings]. Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, [represents warmth and happiness in the U.S.], but signifies sadness in Greece and jealousy in France.  People from tropical countries respond most favorably to warm colors; people from northern climates prefer the cooler colors.

In North American mainstream culture, the following colors are associated with certain qualities or emotions:

Red -- excitement, strength, sex, passion, speed, danger

Blue -- (listed as the most popular color) trust, reliability, belonging, coolness

Yellow – warmth, sunshine, cheer, happiness

Orange -- playfulness, warmth, vibrancy

Green -- nature, fresh, cool, growth, abundance

Purple -- royal, spirituality, dignity

Pink – soft, sweet, nurture, security

White -- pure, virginal, clean, youthful, mild

Black -- sophistication, elegance, seductive, mystery

Gold -- prestige, expensive

Silver – prestige, cold, scientific

The key factor that Angela Wright, in her book The Beginners Guide To Colour Psychology (available at www.Amazon.com), recognized in studying color psychology was that, equally, there are no wrong colors.  It is the combination of colors that triggers the response.  You could have a grey sky on a summer day, but our reaction to that grey with the beautiful colors of the summer landscape would be different from the combination of a grey sky with a predominantly snow white scene. We do not respond to just one color, but to colors in combination. Even the winter landscape contains many colors.

So, dear readers, when you’re planning your next volunteer recruitment campaign remember you only have 7 seconds to get someone’s attention – what are your colors saying in those 7 seconds?  Good luck!

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
314 E. Marie Dr. * Stillwater, OK 74075 * VOICE: 405.372.8142


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