Volunteer Recruitment for Communities
The world of volunteer recruitment can be just as difficult to navigate as the for-profit sector; maybe even more so considering that non-profits don’t always have the resources to woo potential volunteers with enticing benefits or impressive salaries. Instead, non-profits must rely on their brand and value proposition to showcase opportunities and offerings to prospective talent.
For many charities and non-profits, the cause itself is strong enough to draw volunteers. Those who feel passionate about women’s rights or low-income resources may seek involvement simply because it’s close to their heart. Community leagues and local organizations, however, may find themselves scrambling to attract that same level of interest since they are geographically-focused, and consequently may not have much “pull” outside the confines of their community.
A community, or a community league, may not have an obvious “cause” like many charities, but they do have a network of community members willing to donate their time to a purpose that makes them feel proud of where they work or live. There are a number of things communities can do to create a strong offer and incite community members to get involved.
Identify your brand
A strong brand draws individuals to your organization and allows them to connect with what you stand for. Communities with a strong and professional presence will also find themselves getting support more readily—there’s something about a clear and exciting identity that gets people riled up and elicits pride in participation. Your brand goes beyond the logo and creative look of your community. It’s important to consider every touchpoint (interaction with the public or potential volunteers), and how it contributes to communicating your community’s unique story.
Be clear about your needs
Often, boards and community leagues find they don’t know where to start when it comes to volunteer recruitment. It can be challenging to narrow down what to get volunteers to work on, how to execute onboarding and/or training, and where current gaps exist. It’s best to be proactive and identify areas that are slipping and figuring out exactly what type of resource is needed to handle the work. Only then can you begin developing volunteer role descriptions or skills matrixes, and begin attracting volunteers who see a clear connection between their skills and your specific need.
Tear down the barriers
So many community leagues say they are in constant need of volunteers, but have implemented an extremely onerous process when it comes to applying. If an individual needs to call a contact, leave voicemails and fill out a number of forms—all before they even get more information about the role—it’s not going to happen. Identify your needs clearly, and make the application process as seamless as possible. Prepare information ahead of time by creating tools like a downloadable info package for prospective volunteers that covers available opportunities and collects their personal information so you can follow up with them personally.
Provide an opportunity for growth
Volunteers may not get “paid” but there must be a “funds transfer” of some sort in order for them to feel engaged. Whether that involves developing new skills, getting experience in a certain field or meeting new people, there’s always something the volunteer is “receiving” in lieu of pay. Be strategic about the way you approach volunteer “payment”. Consider surveying your volunteers or having regular discussions about goals, ambitions and what they’re hoping to get out of the position. Ensuring that you’re continuously meeting their needs for “growth” means you’ll be able to reap the benefits of long-term, engaged volunteers, and avoid the constant need for recruitment.
While many community leagues argue that they don’t have the enviable draw of an international charity, they do have a number of tools at their disposal if they’re willing to think creatively. With a strong brand, clear needs, a streamlined recruitment process and defined opportunities for growth, every community has the opportunity to draw in the skills and talent of local residents to create a stronger, sustainable and engaged community.