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Let's face it: not everyone enjoys searching out individuals to help do a job, or in other words, asking someone to volunteer. Recruiting volunteers can be a time-consuming process. Unfortunately, it often becomes a case of looking for a "warm body", somebody, anybody, to get the job done.
Recruiting is: Getting the right person in the right job, with the right skills at the right time.
A volunteer program is a two-way street: it must meet the needs of the organization and the needs of the volunteer. Everyone wins!
Recruiting volunteers should be a process rather than a problem! Securing volunteers should be done through a total recruitment process rather than by taking the first individual who comes along.
This Factsheet will help you better understand and use the 5 Easy Steps to Successful Recruiting.
The recruitment of volunteers in your organization, whether it be to get someone to chair the annual banquet or run for president, should not be handled any differently from the recruitment of paid staff members.
The first step in recruiting volunteers is to define the type job to be done. This will help ensure that the organization gets the right person to fill the position. Individuals responsible for recruiting and all potential volunteers should have a clear understanding of what the job involves.
Once the job has been defined, qualifications required to do the job can be developed as a way of identifying potential volunteers.
A Job Description is a useful tool that lists all the qualifications needed to do the job. This step clarifies, for all those involved, the expectations and requirements of the volunteer position. It will give volunteers an idea of the part they play in the total picture of the organization.
A complete volunteer job description should include:
Title: This will be the volunteer's identification. Give this as much prestige as possible.
Purpose: A general statement that identifies what the job is and why it is necessary.
Responsibilities: List each duty and responsibility of the job. Be as specific as possible.
Qualifications: List the skills, knowledge and attitudes you seek. Be careful not to over-qualify the position - you could lose some excellent volunteers.
Relationships: Who the volunteer reports or is accountable to.
Time Commitment: Expectations regarding time demands of the job. Be specific! i.e., weekly, monthly, long-term basis, flexible, self-determined.
Benefits: What's in it for the volunteer? What is to be gained personally by doing the job?
Remember: Recruiting volunteers before you define the job to be done and qualifications needed, is like trying to square dance before the caller begins!
Now that you understand what the job is and what sort of person is required to do it, you need to list potential candidates who may be able to do the job.
Where To Look?
Refer to sources such as your membership lists, other community organizations, welcome wagon, schools, or places where people gather (e.g., church meetings).
Have your members complete a "Window of Work" when they join and refer to this information when recruiting the right volunteer for the right job. It is a primary means of locating a special place for your volunteers within the organization.
Don't forget to have your members occasionally update this valuable information. This simple tool can help to quickly identify individuals with particular skills, knowledge and connections.
Window of Work
Name: John Doe
Glad Gifts (Special skills, talents, interests you like to use)
Things you do well and enjoy doing. Don't hesitate to list something, you'd be surprised how hour talents can be utilized.
Quests (Areas you would like to learn more about)
List areas of interest you may not have the skills to perform but you would enjoy learning about
No-No's (Please don't ask!)
Anything you really don't want to do
Adapted from Ivan Scheier, Yellowfire Press, Colorado, 1986
Remember: You are not always going to find the perfect, experienced, highly qualified candidate. You should rank potential candidates based on how well they meet the required qualifications. Additional training may be an option. Be flexible, but try to select the best person for the job.
This is probably the most difficult step in the process because of the fear of rejection on the part of the volunteer. However, if you've followed steps 1 to 3 of the recruitment process, then you can be assured that the person being approached is the right person for the job. In most cases, people will be flattered just to be asked.
When: As soon as possible
Where: In person at the candidate's home, office or a convenient location.
What: Have all the materials you need with you (e.g., job description, by-laws, objectives or purpose of the organization).
Who:Up to three members of recruitment committee.
A small committee reinforces the volunteer's perception that he/she has been chosen by an appropriate process, will be supported by members of the organization, and was selected because of his/her qualifications to do the job. Having more than one interviewer also ensures that all points are covered during the interview.
If you are recruiting someone for a position that must be filled by an election, (i.e., president, treasurer), you will need to explain the situation carefully. Ask the volunteer if he/she would be willing to fill an alternate position if someone else is elected.
At the end of the interview, to ensure both parties understand, summarize any decisions and actions that have been agreed upon. Once volunteers have said Yes, shake their hand and congratulate them on their decision.
It may be necessary to:
Once volunteers have agreed to take on positions, you will want to keep them. You can do so through additional training, reward and recognition, cooperation, and innovative programming.
A satisfied volunteer will:
Remember: There is no such thing as a bad volunteer. Just the right person in the wrong job!
Sample Job Description - ABC Agricultural Society
Purpose: Manage the business of the ABC Agricultural Society; ensure programs are developed and implemented to fulfil the mandate and to promote a proper image of the society.
If you are a member of the nominating committee, the president or chairman of the organization, or if you belong to a special committee to recruit people for a specific job or program, your job is to recruit volunteers. Using an effective recruitment process will help to ensure that the organization's needs are being met and your members are satisfied volunteers.
Getting Started - Establishing A Volunteer Program. Fels, Lynn. Toronto: Volunteer Centre of Metropolitan Toronto, 1988.
Handbook For Cooperating Associations and Voluntary Organizations. No. 5: Volunteer Management. Environment Canada, Parks, 1986.
Recruiting Volunteers - The Grizzly Creek Solution: Instructor's Manual. The Boy Scouts of Canada, 1988.
Volunteer Resource Development Manual - CNIB. Miller, Joanna. Ontario Association of Volunteer Bureaus/Centres, 1988.
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