Monday, March 8, 2010

Enlarge your circle and define opportunities to attract more volunteers

We often hear these days about the lack of volunteers in the non profit sector and program cutbacks and closures as a result. In the "good old days" not only did people feel it was their duty to help out, but we had a willing and ready volunteer workforce made up of women who did not work outside the home.

Times have changed dramatically and so must the way we treat and attract volunteers to our causes. What makes someone volunteer?
  • they like the people involved in the activity or cause
  • they have an opportunity to use their skills or to learn new ones
  • they want to have some fun!
How can we create better conditions to attract those volunteers?
  1. Ensure your vision is clearly and consistently articulated
  2. Help volunteers understand the role they play in achieving the vision
  3. Show them how the vision fits into the broader community needs
Linking the vision to broader community needs means you can cast a wider net beyond your obvious supporters. There may be people that are unaffected directly by your cause, yet see an opportunity to contribute to the community by using their skills and having some fun.

Clearly define volunteer roles and responsibilities in position descriptions so people know what they have signed up for. Then treat them as a vital part of the organization and you'll both reap the benefits. Get rid of the attitude that someone is "just a volunteer" by encouraging and expecting them to do the best they can at whatever they have been assigned.

Shifting your attitudes and enlarging your circle will allow you to attract and use your volunteers effectively - a win-win situation for everyone!

Laura Mikuska
Mikuska Group
Fund Development & Event Specialists

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