Sunday, March 11, 2012

Five recruitment tips for Volunteer Managers


1.Ensure the job’s there

What does "Ensure the job's there mean?." I’ve been at too many meetings of volunteer managers where there has been a round table introduction that goes like this. – “I am Michael and I work at blabla hospice and I have 240 volunteers! “ The next manager states “I am Janice and I work at the south homeless shelter and I have 247 volunteers” (Take that Michael!).
What I am saying is that numbers of volunteers do not necessarily equate to the quality of volunteer programs. Those that don’t quite understand volunteering often equate greatness to numbers. They couldn’t be so more wrong.

Sure yes – if you need to clean a beach 100 volunteers may be better than 20. However 20 well trained and motivated volunteers may just do the job better than the 100 who have gone without training and orientation!
To cut to the chase the point I am making in regards to recruitment is that you have to have the jobs and tasks already in place before you recruit volunteers. You are in a bind if 50 apply for a task that 20 can do. Quality is often better than quantity in volunteering.
So define your task. Define the amount of people you require and proceed accordingly! You must ensure that its meaningful work. This is the best recognition I believe we can give to volunteers.

2.The best recruitment ad is word of mouth

In my 15 years of Volunteer Management this has been true for me. Of course I realise that you must have an established volunteer program to ensure this. The good volunteer experience means so much. The good volunteer experience is priceless for your recruitment of volunteers. I think that sometimes we forget that. And I think we do that because we fail to think outside the cocoon of our day to day experience. We forget what is happening afterhours in relation to our volunteers. And it is this. They are connecting as society does. They are relating to friends and family. They are sharing their experiences on Facebook and Twitter. They are telling their stories in community forums and settings. This is where your recruitment is happening. So remember –one of the best recruitment strategies is right in front of you – your existing volunteers!

3.Sell sell sell

Time is precious. I’ve written a blog on time and volunteering that is the most read blog on my site in two years. If you want people to donate time to you then you better work hard to get that time. There are so many good causes and opportunities for volunteering out there. One can pick and choose. Traditional organisations forget this sometimes.
Take me for example. Right now at this moment I am not volunteering. I would like to. I’ve thought of a few options. But nothing is standing out. We sometimes seem to think that people wake up on a given morning and decide to volunteer for a good cause or organization of their choice. Just like that. And that happens. But there are so many people out there...like me...Who wake up and want to volunteer but are unsure about which organisation to volunteer for. So...how are you catering for me? How are you reaching me? Three words here. “Use my motivation!” If I saw an ad right now that said this “Looking for a volunteering opportunity and not too sure where to go? Then have a look at us!” That has my attention!

4.The Interview.

Probably the most critical part of the recruitment process IMHO. Here you get to meet the person who wants to volunteer for your organisation. Now there may be some organizations who don’t interview or who don’t put too much effort and time into this process. That may be well and good but I personally feel that if the organisation isn’t going through these processes that they may leave themselves open for some trouble down the line.

So what are your interviews like? To me they are crucial in the successful recruitment of volunteers. Please give time to this process. The interview should be like a two way sales job. The volunteer candidate is selling themselves to you and you are selling your organisation to the candidate. This is important. If we are interviewing thinking we don’t need to sell our volunteering opportunities then we are on a losing track! And If we ever think people are privileged volunteering with us then we have lost!

5.The probation


I remember once at an interview telling the volunteer candidate that there would be a probationary period. She laughed. Well actually she belly laughed for quite some time! She was a quite intelligent and articulate University student. She went on to be a great volunteer. She got probation. For great recruitment to happen there needs to be a probationary period. As I have said to volunteers this is both for the volunteers themselves and for the organisation. In your best recruitment strategy you need to be honest from the get go. There is a time when volunteers are needed ad hoc,, think emergency and disaster volunteers. People who drop everything in their normal lives to take up many things in extraordinary lives! But recruitment processes are also important. If we say that volunteering doesn’t need processes than we are on a slippery road.

My five points are thoughts of a Volunteer Manager on Recruitment. Stay tuned for more!

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