If membership recruitment is tough (which it is), volunteer recruitment is 10x tougher. You’re asking people to give their time - a scarce resource, particularly nowadays.
So what’s the trick? Well there is no easy or sure-fire method for finding volunteers, but if you’ve been struggling lately, consider asking yourself these three questions:
1. Am I being clear about what the job is?
Sometimes, people don’t volunteer because they don’t know what exactly they’re getting themselves into. Is this going to be a three-month long commitment? Will it involve working outside? If your members don’t know, they’re likely to steer clear.
Think about it like this: Would you apply for a job that stated “Employees needed for Company XYZ.” Probably not - unless you knew exactly what you’d be doing. Volunteers are the same way, so make sure you’re giving clear descriptions on your website and in your member communications.
2. Am I providing a multitude of opportunities?
If you’re struggling to find volunteers, it could be that people aren’t interested in the particular opportunities that you have available. But you can 100% make those opportunities more appealing by switching things up and being a little bit more flexible.
For example, maybe people aren’t interested in giving up a whole Saturday, but if you allow people to volunteer in shifts (say 3 - 4 hours), that could be a game-changer. Or, let’s say you need people to help out at your next event. Well maybe not everyone wants to have a “people-facing” job. Allow them to work on tasks behind the scenes. Again, this just helps garner more interest and participation.
3. Am I highlighting the desired outcome and/or benefits?
If there’s one area where association professionals tend to slip (in terms of volunteer recruitment), it’s right here. So often, we say what the job is, but we don’t say why it’s important - and that’s the key. Volunteers want to know that they’re contributing to a greater cause. Or at the very least, that they’re going to get something out of it. That said, highlight the desired outcome and/or benefits. Let your members know that what they’ll be doing is important and explain how it will help with your organization’s overall goal or mission. Not only will this likely inspire your members to volunteer, but if the “why” is good enough, it will keep them coming back.
Want more tips for recruiting and retaining volunteers? Check out our Small-Staff Guide to Volunteer Management below!