Hitting the Mark: Target Promotion

Photo cred: http://coronadousd.net/

Don’t promote more–promote smart. By now, you should have a good handle on what your organization uniquely provides and the type of volunteers you need. Your next step is to connect with those individuals. It might seem like a great idea to paint the town with Volunteers Needed! posters for your summer carnival or concession stand–but it’s a waste of paper if they’re not reaching your ideal volunteers (or anyone who might be willing to volunteer, for that matter). Use the information available to you–namely, steps 1 and 2–to find and retain the right volunteers for your event or organization.

Step 3: Target Promotion

Photo cred: www.forbes.com

It’s time to get a little creative. If you’re looking for young volunteers to work as peer-mentors for children, try attending a University sponsored Volunteer Fair near you. If you’re looking for “soup kitchen” volunteers who can donate up to twenty hours a week, consider reaching out to the retired community through newsletters like “Retirement Weekly” or state government-sponsored programs like the Division of Retirement in Florida (they send out a monthly newsletter to active members of the FRS Pension Plan).

If you know your organization would attract the outdoorsy-type, post flyers at the Community Recreation Center, city park gazebo, or a local campground. Use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn–Pinterest, Yelp or ShareWhere (“you volunteer”). Start recruiting on VolunteerMatch, or otherwise promoting your event locally on the radio to spur a word-of-mouth campaign. Some organizations have even created jobs for this very task: social media wizards who help to ensure the efficacy of your marketing campaign. Keep in mind, however, that the better you understand your ideal volunteer, the less promotional work you have to do. Casting your net narrowly will save you time, money and resources.

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A Healthy Dose of Idealism

Now that you understand your appeal as an organization, it’s time to shift your focus to the goal at hand. You want volunteers–but you don’t want just any volunteers. It’s okay to be picky, because finding the right volunteers is a lot like finding love. No one ever goes on a first date without at least a hazy idea of what they would like their perfect mate to value, understand, look or even smell like (here’s mine…just kidding). The point being, of course, that you should enter into the volunteer search with a keen sense of what you are trying to find. So how do you identify your “ideal” volunteer?

Step 2: Identifying Your Ideal Volunteer

If your organization requires lots of work outside, your ideal candidate might be a regular camper or a nature-buff. If your volunteers work regularly with children, perhaps you’re looking for a good caretaker. Do you coordinate a mentorship program that involves sports? Someone enthusiastic about the impact athletics can have on education. If you can recognize your appeal as an event or organization, you can begin to identify the type of volunteer you’re seeking.

Time is also a factor: some nonprofits need volunteers that are able to return on a consistent basis–people who “learn the ropes,” so to speak, perhaps even through specialized training. I fondly call these volunteers “repeat offenders”; they often do work that could not be replicated or replaced without some prior knowledge of the position, and they are needed on a recurring basis.

Others–in fact, most–are one-time volunteers. They sign up for one job during a specific event (like a festival or a race) on one day. They can hop on board right up until the day of the event itself, and they’re typically prepped on-site. Although all volunteers are invaluable to the success of charitable programs and parades alike, it’s important for you to identify which type of volunteer is the best-fit for your cause.

There are also umbrella requirements–like age, a clean criminal record, or experience–that you will need to review before your volunteers are qualified to work for you. You might find you need a volunteer who knows how to coordinate volunteers themselves (they can click here)! Whatever characteristics or commitments you deem necessary for your volunteer force, understanding those ideal traits will allow you to begin narrowing your recruitment strategy to attract the right volunteers to your organization.

Pictures courtesy of Justin Bieber and Habitat for Humanity

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Event Management: Volunteers Needed!

It’s finally summer! The waterparks are packed, the fireworks are over (easy on those leftover bottle rockets, kids) and you, savvy event planner, are in full-swing for this year’s sunny season of festivals, fairs and parades. While you’re busy deciding where to place those water stations and vegan-friendly food vendors, however, don’t forget one key ingredient to your successful event: volunteers.

Photo cred: namimass.org

Now, we understand that volunteers can be a perplexing (and, well, sometimes frustrating) group to pin down. They run the gamut from teenagers to seniors; some are looking for community involvement, some want a free parking spot. We like to think that most volunteers are passionate about the work they’re doing–if they care to give, odds are, they’re giving because they care. With that in mind, we’ve put together five easy steps you can take to seek out and retain a happy and robust volunteer force.

Step 1: Understand Your Appeal

Don’t undersell yourself. You serve a purpose, you have a mission, and you address a great need. There are certain aspects about volunteering for your organization or event that are unique and therefore appeal to different types of volunteers. Understanding that specific appeal of yours is the first step towards finding the right volunteers for your event. For example, do your volunteers get to interact with children? Can they work outdoors with their hands?

Habitat for Humanity

Perhaps you provide a program wherein your volunteers can incorporate things they already love doing (like running or biking) into peer-mentorship. Maybe you can give them an opportunity to become more actively immersed in a hobby or interest–like directing tours at a history museum or teaching poetry at an inner-city art institute. When you discover that special something about your organization, don’t keep it a secret! Let prospective volunteers know, too. Not sure where they’re hiding? Understanding your appeal allows you to better understand (and find) your ideal volunteer. But now we’re just teasing you with Step 2. Keep posted–more to come!

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