An organization is only as good as the people who work there. That’s true if they’re full-time employees or volunteers. The only problem is that when you’re trying to bring in volunteers, one of the biggest carrots companies use to pull in high-quality people – namely financial compensation – isn’t available.
That means you have to find other ways to bring those people in. Fortunately, there are many options out there. Here we’ll look at some of the best strategies you can use to make sure that you still manage to attract the best volunteers.
The most valuable volunteers are the ones you already have
The first thing to realize is that in your quest to bring in new volunteers, don’t overlook the ones you already have. Why? Because turnover is just as bad for volunteers as for full time employees.
By treating your current volunteers well, they feel part of something important. And by staying on top of their wants and needs they feel genuinely appreciated, making it more likely that even if they have to leave at some point because of other commitments, they will return or stay connected in the future.
No does not mean never
When you try to bring in someone new and they say ‘no,’ don’t take that to mean that they never will. It is possible they might have more time later on, or change their minds and join your organization anyway.
It’s a bit like how most organizations do cold and warm calls. If they get rejected on a cold call, they ask if they can call again sometime in the future. If they can, then the prospect is positive. Therefore, the next time they call the person they will be more receptive to what they’ve got to say.
It’s the same with volunteers. If they can’t volunteer right now, don’t just end the conversation. Ask them if it’s OK if you can reach out again a few months from now or include them in your newsletter. This creates a pool of prospective volunteers, some of whom will eventually say ‘yes.’
Be willing to say ‘no’ to volunteers who you doubt are going to work out. This is important for several reasons. For one thing, it will mean that you don’t spend a lot of time cleaning up after workers who aren’t actually capable of doing what’s required.
Just as important, taking on board the wrong person can destroy the morale at your company. They might gossip, backstab, be lazy or in other ways undermine the collegial atmosphere at your company and in that way cost you the volunteers you already have.
And that can be a disaster.
Use the incentives you do have
Since you can’t offer volunteers any financial compensation, make sure that you offer them other interesting incentives instead. There are a lot of them. You can organize events for the volunteers so they feel valued and at the same time enjoy themselves. You can also make sure they receive appropriate job titles that will make it easier for them to find paid employment after they’ve moved on from your company or organization.
The best titles to give them are ones that are already being used in industry, so that future employers will have a clear idea of the responsibilities they had while volunteering for you. In that way, your volunteers will be recognized for their skills, beyond contributing out of the goodness of their heart.
Talk about the people you already have
Of course, the only way you can actually find new volunteers is if people know that you’re looking for them. To that end, make sure that you have an effective marketing effort. In parallel to your PR efforts, get the word out through your social media channels that you’re looking for motivated volunteers to help you make the world a better place.
An often-overlooked strategy, moreover, is to put the volunteers you already have in the spotlight. Creating short films or blogs about people who are already working with you offer several advantages:
- It showcases to potential volunteers how cool the people you’ve already got working for you and how they can be part of the team.
- The people you put in the limelight are themselves going to be grateful. They’ll be encouraged to stick around for longer and work even harder.
- Those who have not yet been featured will look forward to their opportunity to stand out. After all, almost everybody wants their fifteen minutes of fame.
Another productive method to find highly motivated and high-quality people is to go out and teach workshops about your organization’s mission and projects. The workshops share your goals with others who might be inspired to join your organization’s efforts. At the same time, you can evaluate if these participants are suitable to join your team.
Make sure you don’t neglect the network you’ve already established. Often, people who know what you’re doing and think highly of you make great recruiters. Those familiar with your work are more trusted than those who are unaware of your activities. So, talk with clients, friends, current and former volunteers, family and anybody else who already has a connection with your organization to encourage others to participate as volunteers.
Although finding and maintaining dedicated volunteers may seem daunting, a thoughtful strategy integrating these methods will attract the right talent you need to further your important mission.
Dina Indelicato is a blogger enthusiast and freelance writer currently working for Pick Writers.