The selection and recruitment of volunteers is the process of choosing the right volunteer for a specific job as outlined in a written job description. Selection happens after the organization has assessed the need for volunteers and identified specific tasks or jobs to be done by volunteers. Recruitment becomes an ongoing process once the needs have been identified. A manager of volunteers must first determine specific roles or jobs needed before recruitment and selection can take place.
The most effective style of volunteer recruitment is “targeted recruitment.” This method is based on identifying a needed volunteer job and then targeting an individual or group(s) of individuals who should have the skills or interests necessary to fulfill the job’s responsibilities.
The targeted method generally provides the best results and involves several specific steps.
Develop a list of all volunteer jobs needed by the organization.
Identify types of skills/qualities desirable for specific jobs (for example, if you are looking for a reading tutor to work in the school, the desired volunteer needs to be comfortable with children and available during school hours). Identify potential target groups (such as retired teachers, stay at home parents, older students) and then determine where these target groups are most often found (for example, senior centres, retirement groups, libraries, recreation centres, high schools).
Make an appeal to individuals in these target groups. Share what the organization hopes to accomplish and, in return, can offer them for their volunteer efforts. (For example, the goal is to help students pass examinations and be more successful in school. This volunteer opportunity will benefit the entire community by advancing students with better skills and increased employability.) Indicate what the organization has to offer that other similar organizations and programmes do not – what is unique and special about your organization (for example, volunteers may work with the same students over a two-year period instead of just one year).
Decide how you will communicate your recruiting message to these targeted groups. Managers of volunteers may find that personal conversations or presentations to small groups of potential volunteers are very effective ways of recruiting volunteers. Small discussions allow potential volunteers to ask questions and learn more personal information about the actual volunteer work. The targeted method allows volunteer managers to recruit potential volunteers who ask questions and speak directly to their own needs and skills. Helping an individual realize they have the abilities to do something they want to do is easiest when a two-way conversation occurs. Managers of volunteers may recruit volunteers from the general community by using new stories, posters, advertisements, radio announcements, or printed messages in papers or newsletters. This type of recruitment shares general information and while it raises awareness about volunteer activities it is generally less effective in recruiting actual volunteers.
It is often helpful to involve other people (especially volunteers) in the recruitment process. Current volunteers may be more effective in talking about the work they are doing and the rewards they receive from their volunteer service. It is often helpful to train a few volunteers to give recruitment speeches about the organization. Some organizations create a speakers bureau consisting of volunteers and paid staff who are trained in giving presentations to the public about the organization’s work. If the purpose of the presentation is to share information and recruit volunteers, be certain you invite people to volunteer and have a process for them to sign up or follow up.
Once an individual expresses an interest in volunteering every effort should be made to engage her or him quickly.
This article first appeared on the World Volunteer Web