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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

~2013 ~


We all love lists, don’t we?  Well, here’s my list of Eleven Things To Do To Effectively Engage Volunteers:

  1. Create recruitment materials.  Think about the types of people you want as volunteers for each of your volunteer opportunities (you ARE using task descriptions, aren’t you?) and tailor your recruiting materials to them.  Make sure to include how much time each position requires so volunteers can make an informed decision about their time commitment.
  2. Leverage the web for recruitment purposes.  Find local community calendars and tap into existing online platforms, such as idealist.org, volunteermatch.org, allforgood.org, etc.
  3. Conduct targeted outreach.  If your project requires a specific skill, then target your outreach and materials to prospective volunteers with those skills.
  4. When you just need a lot of hands for a short period of time, try the “warm body” recruitment approach.  With this recruitment technique it’s all about spreading your call for volunteers as far and as wide as possible.
  5. Recruit from your existing networks.  Invite your organization’s supporters, donors, audience members, partners, and friends to volunteer.  At worst you have an extra pair of hands to help you.  At best it will deepen their commitment to help your cause.
  6. Create a volunteer engagement plan.  Who is going to be in charge?  Are you going to have sub-committees and team or day captains?  If you have a lot of volunteers it’s especially important to have a solid management system so everyone knows their role and purpose at all times.
  7. Hold an orientation for your new volunteers.  This is not only a good time to establish expectations and ground rules, but it’s a time to make your volunteers feel welcome and part of the team.  It’s a good idea to have your staff present and if possible, involve some of your long-time volunteers in presentations.  Invite a beneficiary of your organization’s work to speak so the volunteers understand the impact of their time and skills.
  8. Brief volunteers on your purpose and communication guidelines.  In addition to expectations and rules, it’s important that your volunteers know what your organization is about and how to talk about it.  Put it in writing so they always have it as a reference.sign for volunteers
  9. Set up a communication system for your volunteers.  Whether it be a Facebook group or an email listserv, an established system for communicating with your volunteers is key.  In addition to emails or messaging, it’s good to have an online page (Facebook, a blog, your organization’s website) where your volunteers can access needed information in case they miss a meeting or an email.
  10. Make sure to recognize your volunteers’ efforts.  There’s a wide range of recognition techniques from honoring a volunteer of the month and thanking them in event programs to gift certificates for a job well done and a thank you note from you, your Executive Director, and/or the Board chair.
  11. Survey your volunteers after an event or activity.  Surveys are great for finding out what worked and what didn’t so you can keep your volunteers’ experience positive and your project running smoothly.

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 or 202-306-1492

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