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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