“I Need Volunteers”
Nonprofit organizations like PTA’s, PTO’s, church groups, little leagues, and community associations are powered by volunteers. So, recruiting, building, and maintaining a volunteer corps can be a key component of your organizations success. You’ll find some great ideas for recruiting volunteers below. In addition, we have listed some best practices for school parent organizations and other nonprofits that want to build and grow their volunteer base.
So How Do I Get Volunteers Then?
Make it a key position in your organization. This officer should set goals develop strategies and be the key reciter for your organization. Some organizations fly blind and scramble at the last minute to secure volunteers. With a Volunteer Coordinator your organization can stay focused and staffed – having someone dedicated to maintaining the Plan of Action throughout the year.
ASK! – Seems Very Simple, but…
The best way to get someone to volunteer is to ask. I am sure you will send emails – great idea – put it on the list. I am sure you will put up posters – another great idea – put it on the list. You will use social media, that is sure to make the list. However, nothing beats asking someone directly. You may find yourself spending more time, with less results, on all those great ideas. Like most human interaction, personal engagement is King (or Queen). It’s an often under-executed method though, because asking is sometimes uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be. Remember you’re helping a great cause. During open house, field day, or other school events, you’ll notice a new set of parents showing up to participate. They want to help, sometimes you just have to ask.
Get the Newbies
In most school groups you’ll find the most enthusiastic volunteers will be the new parents. For a community organization or church group it’s new members. Make sure your “Volunteer Coordinator” has a plan at orientation meetings, Back-to-School nights or induction ceremonies. Let these potential new members know that volunteers are vital to the success of your mission. Let them know your goals on how many you would like. The more volunteers you can collect, the less workload each will have to do – making the event more fun!
Load the Lists
At organization events many groups will put out sign-up sheets. Great Idea! At Back to School nights, yearly meetings or well-attended sessions sponsored by your group, it makes sense to ask everyone to help out by signing up to volunteer. A “best practice” would include creating different lists for different events, i.e. Cookie Dough Fundraiser, or Bingo Night etc. People will have the opportunity to pick the event and time that works best for them. If someone is reluctant to sign up, then they will be extra reluctant to be the First one to sign up. Load The List! Add names to the list before you put them out. Someone will be more likely to join in with a group that already is staffed as opposed to being the first or second one on the list. Some groups use online software like SignUpGenius.com, try to build an email list for a service like that – allowing them to decide from event to event if they’d like to participate.
Social Media is Your Friend
Of course this would be on the list…it’s on every list.
For someone that doesn’t use social media very often this could seem like an impossible task to take on. It would be. For someone who is a Facebook user and very savvy with social media this might actually be a fun and rewarding way to volunteer. Find your Social Media expert and then stand back and watch the magic happen. Make sure to monitor the activity to ensure that the messages being sent align with your organizations goals. In addition to promoting your organizations events, purpose and goals, a Social Media Plan can help you recruit volunteers all year long. Most schools have a “School Moms” page, and if you’re reading this post, you’re probably already a member.
Here’s a crazy idea, share your volunteers with another organization. Find another group in your area that depends on volunteers. If you are an Elementary PTA, partner with a Middle School PTA or a local community organization like an Art Museum. There are some real Win’s for both groups. Maybe you both have only a few volunteers for upcoming events. Your small group can help their small group and visa versa, making both events easier to manage. Both organizations could learn something from each other. It’s even possible they have more volunteers who are looking to help your type of group.
Service Hours …hmmm, Whats That?
Many High School groups require students to acquire service or Volunteer hours. National Honor Societies (NHS) for instance have very specific goals in many chapters. A lot of would-be NHS members need to find ways to gain these hours. Reach out to the HS coordinators of these programs and let them know that you can help these eager volunteers. Make sure that you have a form that you can provide these students with that validates the hours they have worked.
Always Be Recruiting
To be successful recruiting volunteers your organization must be committed to it. Make it an important part of all your groups planning. Have that one person, Volunteer Coordinator, who’s responsible for the recruiting plan. Remind everyone to Always Be Recruiting. If you nurture your volunteers, treat them great, and show appreciation for their efforts, you will maintain a volunteer corps for years to come.