It can be the bane of fundraising committees – finding volunteers.
In these days of busy lives, single parent households and mortgage stress, people are prone to crossing the street and avoiding your eyes if they think you are going to approach them for help with the latest fundraising effort. Is this familiar to anyone?
STEP 1: Assign a volunteer sergeant – Who is the one person you can always rely on, who is always the first to volunteer, and who works as tirelessly as you do? That is the person who should be in charge of building your volunteer force.
STEP 2: Identify your needs and plan an approach – work out exactly what your committee’s needs are. Make a list of jobs that need doing, and write a brief job description for each. Be sure to include job responsibilities, any qualifications, job training and benefits.
STEP 3: Choose your targets – if you are a school committee, parents of preppies attending their first year of school are often keen to get involved. If you are a sporting organisation, look to your new members and their families – they will be eager to show their support in any way they can.
STEP 4: Be active and get personal – relying on passive recruitment through newsletters and word-of-mouth will only get you so far. Be prepared to make personal appeals for help to individuals – work the phones. Phone calls are a bit harder to put off and ignore than emails! Pitch the job to people, be prepared so you can tell them what sort of help you need, and how much time they will need to commit.
STEP 5: Provide an induction briefing for your volunteers – here’s where you start showing that you value your supporters. Ask volunteers what they want to get from their experience, and how you can help. Orient them to your organisation, and provide an opportunity for them to ask questions.
STEP 6: Be patient – the nature of volunteers is that they are not necessarily highly skilled experts. Be patient with them, be supportive and encouraging. Look for ways to provide support to help them work better as a team.
STEP 7: Stay in touch – come back to your team regularly, and revisit their goals and job descriptions. If the role is changing then you may need to change their goals too. Show that you are responsive and flexible, and you will retain volunteers for the long haul.
STEP 8: Handle problems quickly – guess what? Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away, it usually makes them worse. Don’t let small problems become huge ones. Force yourself to have that difficult conversation, or you may be inadvertently reinforcing inappropriate behaviour. But remember – be diplomatic!
STEP 9: Celebrate success – say thank you, report results, recognise extra effort. Don’t be afraid to single out individual achievement, but be wary of being seen to favour some over others. Have a big party, or host a morning tea – however you celebrate, make your volunteers feel valued and appreciated, and you will see them again next year.
STEP 10: Start early – start work this year on finding next year’s crop of volunteers. Why not get this year’s volunteers to help you write role descriptions for next year – after all, who could be better qualified for the job? And get this year’s volunteers to help with recruiting next year’s volunteers, and watch that network expand!
Tip: If you can convince an influencer to volunteer, you might find you will have others volunteering as well.
This article originally published by Helen Creswick on Aug 31, 2011
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