Guest bloggerRobert J. Rosenthal (@volmatchRobert) is VP of Communications & Marketing at VolunteerMatch, the Web’s largest network for volunteer engagement. Their new guide (free), 101 Volunteer Recruitment Secrets, showcases the insights of dozens of volunteer recruiters to share what works.
Great communications is at the heart of many of the secrets of the most effective volunteer recruiters. In my last post at Getting Attention I featured two such tips – Target your audience where it is and Being responsive can help turn a spark of interest into a flame. So what are some of the other communications tips from 101 Secrets?
Getting to the “Why’s” of a Volunteer Prospect
Even the best volunteer matches on paper might end bailing out mid-project, leaving your organization high and dry. That’s why more than just matching skills, you need to know the greater context of your target audience’s interest.
That is, you need to learn the “why” as much as the “what”. One you know the why’s of your volunteers, you can create Craigslist ads, Facebook status updates and VolunteerMatch listings that speak to the inner goals of likely volunteers.
Jennifer Berry, a volunteer recruiter at Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, says getting to “why” means trying to find out what’s at the core of a prospect’s interest. “If a volunteer comes to me because they ‘want to give back,’ it is important for me to find out why that is,” she said. “If they had a specific experience that is bringing them to us, then I want to try and recreate that experience the best I can. If they want to get experience in a particular area, then I do my best to get them plugged in to that area.”
Her secret: Use good listening to align your organization’s volunteer needs with the deep motivations of your volunteers.
Praise in Public
Of course, the best way to engage great volunteers is to keep more of your current volunteers! According to many of our recruitment pros, one tip for rocking retention is to be outspoken and frequent in your recognition of great volunteers. That’s because public praise fuels volunteer retention while also showing potential volunteer prospects how fun and rewarding it is to serve at your organization.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange Country, NY goes so far as to make current volunteers the face of the organization. As their volunteer recruiter told us, “That allows the potential volunteer to think to themselves, ‘If they can do it, why can’t I?’”
Just be sure to sound out your volunteers before turning the spotlight on. Some folks view giving back as a private, personal thing.
Volunteer manager Peggy Bush goes a step further and fuses public praise with impact reporting. “I do a weekly email newsletter including which dogs and cats were adopted, new arrivals, thank-yous to whoever helped out that week, and any other news as a way to keep people connected to the shelter and show them that their volunteering makes a difference,” she said.
Their secret: Use success stories to communicate what it’s like to volunteer at your organization.
Just Scratching the Secrets Surface
These are just a few of the recruitment secrets that point to the need for smart communications. Why not check out the rest? Click here to download a free PDF copy of 101 Volunteer Recruitment Secrets.
What are your secrets to great volunteer recruitment? Please share them here.
P.S. Get more in-depth case studies, templates and tools, and guidance for volunteer recruitment and other nonprofit marketing strategies in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.