If your group or organisation wants to involve volunteers, how are you going to set about recruiting them?
Do some research. If you are a volunteer yourself consider what it was that attracted you to volunteering in the first place. Perhaps you know other organisations that involve volunteers. Ask them how they recruited their volunteers.
If you have recruited for volunteers before, it is a good idea to perhaps revisit what worked and what did not. For example, how many interested volunteers did that advert in the local newspaper produce?
Asking people directly
The simplest method, particularly for small groups, is to start by simply asking people you know. Most people will respond positively to being asked in this way, but remember to be clear about what it is you are asking them to do and the amount of time you are asking them to commit.
Recruiting volunteers from your surrounding areas or from people that are known to you is sometimes referred to as ‘concentric circle’ recruitment and may include:-
- sending out newsletters/flyers to families of those you work with
- having an open day for the local community
- asking your existing staff or volunteers to ask if anyone within their network is interested in volunteering
The advantage of this form of recruitment is that you are very likely to get people who fit and really get your organisation. Conversely, this can mean that if you use this method too often you will be reducing your options and could lose out on diversity.
For most groups and organisations, the search for volunteers needs to extend further than their immediate vicinity and include a combination of targeted and so called ‘warm-body’ recruitment.
‘Warm Body’ recruitment
This recruitment method will ensure that the net is cast as wide as possible, getting your message out to as many people as possible:-
- use your local Third Sector support organisation – the service is free and the opportunities are widely publicised on the web and in centres across Scotland
- put up posters/distributing flyers in libraries, doctor surgeries, public buildings, schools/colleges, leisure centres, places of worship, arts venues, supermarkets, and cafes
- make use of local community events where you can have a stall that will help publicise your organisation and meet potential volunteers
The advantage of warm body recruitment is that it is relatively easy.
Targeted methods of recruitment include:-
- offering to do talks or presentations to groups
- taking out adverts in particular publications or community newsletters – print media is normally quite costly but do not be afraid to haggle for a deal if you feel a particular printed medium would help you to target.
- looking into online/web based tools such as Facebook, Gumtree, Twitter, these are all free and if kept up to date, can be a great way to publicise vacancies for your organisation
Keep an eye on your recruitment budget. Producing adverts or leaflets which appeal to one particular group might mean that they are not so effective for more generic groups, and you could end up duplicating and/or adding costs.
What is the best time of year to recruit?
It is possible to recruit all year round, however it is worth noting that there are key times throughout the year when there are more volunteers looking for opportunities:-
- New Year is a very popular time – lots of people looking for a fresh start or making a positive change for the upcoming year
- Volunteers Week (first week of June) –a good time to approach the media with some good news stories and a plea for volunteers
- Summer – although for some this is a time for holidays and taking care of the kids, there are many other types of people looking for volunteer opportunities, including students and people travelling through
More importantly think about your own timescales and schedules. Remember to leave yourselves enough time to complete a selection process and in particular enough time to complete any PVG Scheme requests/Disclosure checks (where relevant).
Following up on interest
Finally, one of the most common complaints from volunteers is when they have enquired about an opportunity and an organisation has not got back to them. First impressions often mean that if a volunteer has left a message (email, phone or letter) and they do not get a reply promptly, you will lose them.
Some of the ways in which you can be prepared to follow up on interest include:-
- ensuring that your organisation knows what to do with an enquiry
- using your website (if you have one) – upload your application pack for volunteers so that it can be downloaded by interested individuals
- keeping any current staff and volunteers informed – make sure that those who answer the phone and pick up the emails know what to do with a volunteer enquiry
- having some volunteer packs made up ready to send out
- letting people know when you have found a volunteer to fill the post
- signposting unsuccessful enquirers to your local Third Sector Interface organisation or Volunteer Centre