Recruiting volunteers – thinking outside the square


As a volunteer involving organisation, do you wait until an existing volunteer leaves or puts in notice to then start the recruitment and appointing the replacement volunteer phase? Or do you take a strategic approach to all volunteer roles, investing time to think outside the square to how you can really engage volunteers within your organisation?

At the end of the day it boils down to proactive and reactive approaches to volunteer recruitment. The old saying… do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got.

When engaging people in a volunteer capacity you must think outside the square, dare to be different, look at all aspects of what this role (or roles) could contribute towards your workforce and “recruit for attitude, train for skill!”

You may get someone willing and wanting to have a go with a great attitude, zest for life and work ethic, yet they have minimal skills or experience required for the actual role you have vacant – this is your opportunity to engage the person in another area within your volunteer program, or create a role that fits their attributes and enthusiasm!

When screening potential volunteers be sure to keep the peripheral vision open, try not to deter someone because they only partially fit the role – you could even look at splitting the role and making it a couple different positions.

Build your community – quite often volunteer interest is raised due to an emotional link to the cause/activity. People naturally want to give and do something to help out – by connecting people and gearing existing volunteers to be ambassadors of your volunteer program – people often share what brings them joy – this (word-of-mouth) is your greatest recruitment tool!

Have you considered running a Volunteer Information Session where potential volunteers can be informed about what the organisation’s purpose is and ways they can get involved?

Words spark emotion, emotion drives behaviour; share your story, engage your potential volunteers in such a way they see themselves volunteering for your organisation – remember people first will decide if you are worth volunteering for, then fit you into their schedules.

When we look at the overall volunteer contribution each year of 71 million hours[1] gifted to organisations, community groups, committees and boards – and the many ways people are engaged in these organisations – successful experiences come from initiatives such as recognition, flexibility in the role, time and location, being appreciated and generally providing a good volunteering experience.

Want to activate your volunteer involvement? Ask VT how to think outside the square…

By Kate Crawford

[1] State of Volunteering Report 2014: Volunteering Tasmania