Attracting and retaining reliable volunteers is difficult for any organization. There are so many obligations competing for a person’s time. Here 5 Tips for attracting and retaining reliable volunteers.
- Understand Time Constraints. It is important for you to speak with the potential volunteer to understand how much time they have available to commit and when they are available. This creates a two-way street of communication for the volunteer and organizer allowing the organizer to find activities that fit the volunteers schedule. Overburdening someone is one way to turn them off to volunteering.
- Fit Skills to the Task. People enjoy giving back to the community in areas where they excel. If you are planning an event, think about approaching people who are already in a particular line of work like a photographer or videographer to see if they will donate their time.
- Talk Small, Think Big. Sometimes when we approach a potential volunteer we have so many ideas in our heads for this person. If you talk about all of your ideas in your initial conversation with the potential volunteer, it becomes overwhelming and they turn off completely. Approach the volunteer with only one idea at a time, they can grow into other areas over time.
- Friendly Referrals. Just like a job search, the best volunteers come by word of mouth. Individuals are likely to recommend reliable friends.
- Advertise Strategically. If your organization is community-based, think about sending out volunteer requests on community listservs. You may find that community members are looking to get involved but didn’t know how. With this in mind, if your organization is larger than a particular community, think about sending information out on association listservs or posting on like-minded discussion boards. Grassroots advertising is free and can yield some great homegrown volunteers who are already interested in your cause.
Finding and retaining volunteers is a bit of a trial and error process. Remember that everyone is working towards a common goal.