Who doesn’t want their organization to be a volunteer magnet? I’m often asked “What’s the best way to attract volunteers?” The short answer?
Give them what they want!
Actually, that’s the long answer, too. People volunteer for a number of different reasons; because they want to help a cause, because they want to give back to their community, because they want to be part of a group, because they want to learn new skills, because it improves their resume, etc, etc, etc.
If you want to be a volunteer magnet, you need to know why people want to volunteer.
So ask! If a person expresses interest, ask them directly what they want to get out of the position. Show them that you want them to benefit from the role as much as the organization is benefiting from them. Most people will be happy to tell you if you make it understood that the reason you are asking is so that you can fit them into the best position. Also ask your current volunteers why they volunteer. The more you know about why people volunteer for you, the more you can tailor your postings to attract them.
Create “magnetic” postings.
When you create a posting for a volunteer position, think about what that position offers the volunteer – not just what it offers you or the organization. Is it a position where the volunteer can meet a lot of new people? Does it entail learning useful skills? How will the volunteer be making a crucial difference to your clients or the organization’s mission?
Write the post in such a way that this information is clear. Just as a regular job posting lists not only what the company expects from the prospective employee, it also lists the salary and benefits that come with it. Make sure your volunteer posting does the same thing.
Don’t hide any downsides to the position.
I often hear advice about not saying anything about the “bad side” of a volunteer position, because fewer people will apply. I disagree vehemently! Yes, by hiding the challenges of a position you may get more people to volunteer initially, but they are less likely to stay long term, and you’ll be seen as untrustworthy. You can’t be a volunteer magnet if you have ex-volunteers bad-mouthing your transparency!
If the position requires extensive training, for example, say so. By being honest about it, you may attract fewer volunteers, but they’ll be the ones who are willing to do the training – they may even see it as a bonus if they’re after skill-building opportunities! They will be the ones who stick around for the long term.
Becoming a volunteer magnet comes down to clear and honest postings.
When people understand right from the beginning what the position requires from them, the less likely it is that they will become disillusioned and leave. The more they know about what it provides for them, the easier it will be for them to make the decision to volunteer with you.
Let’s face it; your volunteers are giving you their most precious and limited resource – their time. Make a point of giving them what they need in return. That’s how you become a volunteer magnet!