1. Go ahead: ask.
Making a pretty website, brochure or facebook page isn’t as effective as directly asking people to volunteer. Make a list of people you think could do the jobs and then call them up or ask them in person. Most people don’t think you’re talking to them, unless you ask them directly.
2. Make volunteering easy.
This is amazingly difficult and rarely accomplished, but these steps will help:
- Organize volunteer opportunities into small, easily accomplished tasks.
- Give each task clear start and end points.
- Offer varying time and date slots.
- Ideally some tasks require working in a group and others allow people to work alone.
- Structure some tasks that can be done from home.
- Make sure volunteer location is easy to get to.
3. Background checks.
If your organization serves people who might be victimized (children, the elderly or people with, set up a system for running background checks. Always complete the check before a volunteer begins serving.
4. Provide useful training.
Don’t waste their time in silly “training.” Keep it focused, relevant and as short as possible. Remember to feed while you train them. People will put up with a lot for some good snacks.
5. Use their gifts wisely.
Try to match their strengths and interests. If you have truly tedious jobs, why not multitask and have envelope stuffers brainstorm ways to improve the organization. Ask for their ideas, listen to what they say, and implement their suggestions whenever possible.
6. Don’t abuse their goodwill.
It’s tempting to ask reliable volunteers to do more and more. Watch it. Listen to what they say and let them set limits. You must avoid burning out your volunteers. It’s important not to push your unpaid workforce to their limit. Listen to what they are offering and don’t ask for more.
7. Reward your volunteers.
They won’t come back if they don’t feel appreciated, so get creative about showing your gratitude. Candy, coffee, small gift cards for ice cream or movies, or enter them into a drawing for larger prizes. Perhaps a sponsor might donate a getaway or services, or you could arrange free babysitting or household help.
8. Say thanks.
Say thank you early and often, in writing, in person, on the phone, on the web. Spotlight your outstanding volunteers to brag about them. Never let paid staff take them for granted. Happy, satisfied volunteers will help your organization succeed.