Volunteer recruitment focuses on attracting volunteers using recruitment strategies, processes, and recruiting for diversity. Grantees will find this information useful when choosing strategies to recruit volunteers for their programs.
Volunteer recruitment means attracting and inviting people to consider involvement with your organization. Many new volunteer administrators make the mistake of beginning their recruiting before they have an idea of why they are recruiting and for what positions. The most important step for recruitment is planning and design. In order to do this, you must spend time learning about your organization from the inside as well as how your organization is perceived by the community and public at large.
The recruitment message should be inviting and encourage people to become involved with your organization. An organization may have multiple recruitment messages tailored to the volunteers being sought, such as students, professionals, neighborhood residents, or client family members. Each message should idenity:
- The specific need (of the clients and/or the organization)
- How the volunteer can alleviate the need
- The benefits to the volunteer
In evaluating your recruitment message, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the message honor the volunteer?
- Do I know why some people might not say yes?
- Is the message tailored to a target audience?
- Does my invitation include the needs of our clients?
- Who in the organization can best deliver this message?
The two most common strategies used to recruit volunteers for defined positions are non-targeted recruitment and targeted recruitment. Non-targeted recruitment means looking for people with general skills, such as volunteers to participate in community clean-up projects or stock shelves at a food pantry. Targeted recruitment involves looking for people with specific skills, such as lawyers, public relations experts, or graphic artists. Both strategies must use the recruitment messages as described above.
People most often volunteer when they feel they are being asked to get involved personally. Don't assume a general advertisement in a newspaper will attract all or most of the volunteers you need. People need to be asked again and again! Recruit for specific projects and programs throughout the year rather than during a once-a-year campaign. When recruiting volunteers, involve the entire organization, from the CEO to the board of directors to the clients to current active volunteers. Sometimes the volunteer administrator is not the most effective recruiter. In membership groups such as the Kiwanis or Rotary, for example, an active member of the group is the better choice to deliver the message. In addition, peers may be especially good at recruiting students and professionals.
Recruiting for Diversity
Diversity should be an essential element in your recruitment plan. In addition to race and ethnicity, consider other components of diversity, such as age, gender, education, income levels, religious beliefs, physical abilities, and skills. Know the demographics of the community your organization serves. The organization will be more effective if both your paid staff and your volunteer staff reflect the community. Also, consider recruiting volunteers from the population your organization exists to serve. This demonstrates to the community that people are assets, and it tells your consumers that you value them as partners, not just as clients.
Finally, consider deliberate and strategic outreach to youth, seniors, and people with disabilities. These groups have traditionally been viewed as targets of volunteer efforts, not as potential volunteers. Everyone has something to offer, and youth organization may be in an ideal position to bring out the best in those who are rarely asked to volunteer.
There are many techniques available for recruiting volunteers. You must decide which is best for desseminating the recruitment message for your organization and for your specific volunteer positions. Some recruitment techniques to try are:
- Mass media – print and broadcast
- Public speaking
- Outreach to membership or professional organizations
- Slide shows
- Direct mail
- Articles in local newspapers and newsletters of other organizations
- Referrals from individuals associated with your organization
- Volunteer fairs
- Internet websites
- Volunteer Center referrals