Volunteers play a critical role in the operations of
non-profit organizations and NGOs. For many organizations, volunteers can make
the difference between successfully delivering services or program or falling
short of their goals.
However, it is becoming more difficult to recruit volunteers.
More people are expressing a lack of time are a reason they don’t volunteer.
Additionally, more organizations are in the market for volunteers.
What kinds of things can your NGO/non-profit organization do
to maximize your recruiting efforts? Here are six steps for recruiting volunteers.
Write a job description and post on:
- Volunteer Websites
- Your organization’s website, or social media pages
such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Include it in your regular newsletter, whether
electronic or paper.
- Ask current committee members to circulate the
posting or suggest potential names.
2. Find out what attracts a new volunteer
What sorts of things motivate people to volunteer? Understanding
their needs will help you better match them to the volunteer opportunities you
have. Perhaps they have a:
- need to network with peers
- desire to better understand local markets
- need to give back to the profession
- wish to enhance their career
- need for appreciation and recognition
- need to belong
Interview them like you would a prospective employee. The
interview is an important component to the comprehensive volunteer screening
process and allow both the organization and the potential volunteer to make
informed decisions about participation.
The selection process should also include reference checks
and any background checks that would be considered standard for the services
your organization provides. E.g., a vulnerable sector check if you service
4. Orient and train your volunteer
In order to be effective, volunteers need to receive
adequate orientation and training. Orientation familiarizes volunteers with
your organization’s policies and procedures and will help them to act in
alignment with your organization’s mission and values. Training helps ensure
that volunteers can perform their roles effectively and minimizes potential
risks posed to themselves and others.
A volunteer’s schedule will look different from that of
staff. Generally, they are giving of their spare time. Manage the expectations
up-front. Create a schedule that is mutually beneficial to the organization and
to the volunteer.
6. Recognize and reward
Volunteers are motivated by much the same things that
motivate all of us: praise, affiliation,
accomplishment, power and influence. Remember to say thank you to your
volunteers. Say it often. Say it publicly. Say it with sincerity. And, hold formal
events that recognize the hard work and contributions of your volunteers. Take
time to focus on them.
There are challenges that make it difficult to recruit and retain
the active volunteers needed to serve the community’s needs. But with determination,
focus and strategy, volunteer-run organizations can find those individuals willing
to influence their cause.