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Dos and Don’ts for Effective Volunteer Recruiting

Maintaining proper volunteer staffing is an ongoing challenge for associations and nonprofits. You need people with skills, passion, and time to give, all at a time when we all seem to be busier than ever before.

While every association and volunteer opportunity are different, here are some practices that can help you bring the type of volunteers on board that will help you execute your mission.

Do have a plan

Lay out the details of your recruiting process in writing and revisit it on at least an annual basis. It should include: What volunteer roles are being targeted

  1. A basic description of those roles

  2. What methods will be used to deliver recruiting appeals

  3. Follow-up—How responses from potential volunteers will be handled

  4. Who will be responsible for each task

If you’re working with an association management company, or AMC, they can help with a detailed recruiting plan and job descriptions.

Don’t miss an opportunity to use inspiring words

This will seem like odd advice to include in an article with “recruiting” in its title, but eliminate that word as much as you can, especially in public-facing messages. Instead, you are inviting in new volunteers and recruiting appeals are invitations.

Even more importantly, don’t make an announcement about a need, instead offer an opportunity. You’re asking volunteers to help you do some real good. Make it clear to them that they have a chance to get in on something wonderful.

Do spread the word, but don’t mistake announcements for action

Use your website, social media channels, newsletter, etc., to announce the opportunity, and it’s a great idea to have a volunteer opportunities page on your website with a dedicated section on the homepage summarizing and linking to it.

However, the best method for inviting new volunteers is the “shoulder tap.” Ask members of your staff, volunteer force, and board to reach out to people they know who might fit the requirements for the position, and ask local contacts (business sponsors, other nonprofits, your United Way) to do the same. Personal invitations go farther than an announcement that has to punch through the background noise of daily life.

Do define the roles and make sure invitations state them clearly

You don’t necessarily need to have an entire job description for every role, much less include it in every social media post about the position. But ensure the position’s role and tasks are clear when you invite someone to volunteer.

Don’t downplay the requirements with some version of “anyone can do this”

The role you’re recruiting for may require special qualifications, but even if it doesn’t, you’re looking for someone who will be dedicated to the community you serve. Play up how special that is.

Do conduct “first week” and exit interviews

When you’ve successfully brought in a new volunteer and onboarded them, check in with them soon after they begin working. Ask if they have any questions and concerns, what is working and not working, etc. Be sure they will be comfortable in their new role. When volunteers leave the association, ask them for a brief exit interview so they can share their insights. This information gathering can go a long way to making your association better for your volunteers and make recruiting easier.

Could Your Recruiting Efforts Benefit from Working with an AMC?

At V2, we’ve provided full service and outsourced services (including recruiting) for national associations for many years and can deliver the resources and expertise that help you thrive. Get in touch with us today, and let’s see how we can improve your recruiting together.


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