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On this page are ideas to help you work more efficiently with volunteers. There are tips on recruiting, engaging, coordinating, and managing the work of volunteers.

~ June 2011 ~



Volunteer Recruiting Team: 
Definition:  A group of 6-8 volunteers selected for skills and abilities in recruiting volunteers.  Teams plan the entire recruiting process and carry it out.  Paid staff provides support and encouragement to the group.

Innovative Process to Recruit New Types of Volunteers

Has the recruiting effort grown stagnant?  Is the Volunteer Recruiting Team low on enthusiasm for the task at hand?  Time to introduce a new way to plan recruiting.  Here are the steps.



1.  Identify the Needs

  • Multiple easel papers on the wall with markers
  • List currently existing volunteer jobs. One per sheet.
  • Group brainstorms new types of volunteers who might enjoy this job.


2.  How we recruit now?

  • Below the volunteer job,  list how volunteers for the position are recruited now. (flyers, newspaper, radio, etc.)
  • Let members of the team wield the markers.
  • List all the normal ways recruiting is done.

3.  What are new place to recruit

  • Identify new places to seek volunteers for one position.
  • Do one job at a time.
  • Base suggestions solely on the type of volunteer being recruited.
  • Brainstorm 5 new places to recruit volunteers for this job only.  Example:  If you need people with a variety of language skills, you might recruit through churches that have active international missionary programs

4.  What are “crazy” places to find the volunteer?

  • This is pushing the envelope for where and how to recruit for this position.
  • Ask team to brainstorm what seems like a ridiculous place to look for the types of volunteers listed on the sheet.
  • Example:  Seeking people with multiple language skills:  Visit an English as Second Language class at local community college.  Ask who might be willing to help or do they know people who would be interested?  How about local cultural/ethnic associations.  Set up a booth to recruit at the annual Polish Festival or Philippine Heritage Days
  • NO judgments.  Write down every idea presented.  Yes, no matter how strange or unlikely!
  • Rankings come next. (See example below)

5.  Ranking the Strategies

  • New sheet of easel paper for each volunteer job.
  • Time to rank the suggestions.  Include the list of current recruiting strategies. 
  • Do one volunteer job at a time.
  • There is no more “one size fits all!!”
  • See example below to assess and rank.
  • When done, line up the analyses for each volunteer job. 
  • Rank the suggestion in order of perceived effectiveness.  Consider time required to do it, past experience, the time of members of recruiting team to devote, does recruiting method have a champion, cost, resources needed, etc.

Sample:  Ranking Method

Volunteer Task:  Translators for Outreach on Health Issues

Recruiting Strategy



Time to Implement




  • Church people volunteer more than un-churched.
  • Potential wide variety of languages
  • People interested in community service
  • Not people intensive to do the recruiting
  • Can recruit through church bulletins, web sites, etc.
  • Might work through clergy network.


  • Access?
  •  Will they push their faith as volunteers?
  • Might they be too busy already?

1 month

  • Could ask to visit churches and make a pitch at services.
  • Could see if big church would adopt the program

After ranking comes the Recruiting Plan. It is time to make a recruiting plan with goals, objectives and action plans.  Put in dates and names of people who have agreed to do certain things.  Make sure everyone gets a copy.  Monitor progress on the plan and keep the Volunteer Recruiting Team informed.

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The ant finds kingdoms in a foot of ground.

Stephen Vincent Benet

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Online College Classes --Beginning June 20, 2011

Recruiting Volunteers

Evaluation and Recognition of Volunteers

Portland State University

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Volunteer Today is doing its first special issue.  The September issue will focus on the employment issues facing many nonprofits and government based volunteer programs.

Supplementing is the role volunteers play, especially in government based programs.  Volunteers do things to supplement the work of paid staff.  Supplanting is when volunteers do exactly the same as paid staff.  Public sector unions frown on supplanting. 

With lay-offs and reductions in force volunteers are being asked to do things formerly done by a paid staff person.  This can be a challenge for the administrator of volunteer programs.  Staff can push in one direction while administrators are pushing in a different direction.  After lay offs the remaining paid staff can be resentful of volunteers.  Volunteers can be confused. 

What is happening?  How widespread is this issue?  Is it a problem?  What is an administrator of volunteers to do about it?  Volunteer Today will tackle this issue and more in our special issue.

Different writers for Volunteer Today will bring a unique perspective to a discussion of supplanting and supplementing.  To help guide our research and writing efforts, we are seeking the experience of our readers with volunteers who are doing the work of formerly paid staff.  Or the other way around......volunteer work now done by paid staff. What is working?  What is not working?  How are you coping?  Do you have questions?  Send your comments, stories, and questions to Nancy Macduff at nlmacduff@gmail.com

Volunteers can and generally want to help with problems. Let them help you. They actually do the jobs and often have figured out a better way to do them.


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Industry best practice suggests that the level of screening/background checking should match the type of work the volunteer/board member will be doing.

according to Bruce Summers on CYBER VPM



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