GET IN TOUCH – FAST!
If someone volunteers for your organisation, contact them immediately, thanking them for their interest, and outlining the application process. Volunteers who are not contacted early can become disillusioned and feel not needed.
SELL YOUR ROLE AND YOUR ORGANISATION
Why would I want to volunteer for your organisation? What would I gain? What’s in it for me? Although a volunteer may be coming to your organisations for purely altruistic reasons, they are probably looking for some kind of trade-off. Let them know why this role with your organisation would be great for them.
PROVIDE A JOB DESCRIPTION
Providing potential volunteers with a position description will allow everyone to be clear on the skills and requirements up front, minimising inappropriate applications. It does not need to be long or complicated.
Interview your prospective volunteers to find out if they are a good fit for the role, whether they have the required skills and time, and whether they are a good fit for the organisation. Recruiting a volunteer whose values are different from the organisations could potentially be problematic.
IT’S OK TO SAY NO
Remember that just because someone offers to volunteer for you, you do not have to take them on. Recruiting a volunteer who does not fit or have the required skills is only going to result in disappointment for one or both parties.
CHECK THEM OUT!
Even if your volunteers are not working with vulnerable clients, consider police checking. The volunteer will probably have access to other volunteers, to your possessions, perhaps to money – why take the risk – it (currently) costs nothing to police check.
In the same vein – ask for referees, and make sure that one is not a friend or family member where possible.
RECRUIT FOR DIVERSITY
Bringing a diverse range of volunteers into your organisation can add a richness that your team will find valuable. Consider a range of ages, ethnicities, cultures, life experiences, abilities as well as a good gender balance. Different people with different backgrounds will all add something unique, building a wealth of knowledge, opinion and experience.
When a new volunteer starts, ensure that their induction is thorough. Make sure they know who everyone is, where they will be working, where everything is. It’s easy to feel lost and overwhelmed in a new place, a good induction will help. Induction also needs to include plenty of information about the organisation, it’s mission, values, services etc.
KNOW WHAT THE VOLUNTEERS WANTS TO GAIN…
…and make sure they gain it!. Each volunteer is coming to your organisation, offering to give you their time and skills, for a reason. If you know the reason, you can make sure that the volunteer is successful in achieving their goals. Whether they are looking for work experience, a reference or referee, to make connections, to do something meaningful, if you can know, you can make it happen.
RECOGNISE THEIR CONTRIBUTION
We all know that volunteer recognition is important, but many organisations don’t pay adequate attention to this. Recognition does not need to be costly; however it is not hard to get funds for volunteer recognition or volunteer expenses.
Volunteer recognition is not one size fits all – some volunteers love the big gestures, others would hate the attention.
Publicly state how important your volunteer team is, and privately state how important each team member is. We all want to be where we are needed and valued, make sure that your volunteers know how much you value them and their contribution.
Contented volunteers become great ambassadors for your organisation and will continue to contribute.
Heather Moore - Tonic Magazine (Issue 18, May-July 2013)