Getting Started With Volunteer Recruitment

1. Pre-Recruitment Planning


Getting Started With Volunteer Recruitment
Table of Contents

    1. Pre-Recruitment Planning
    2. Targeting Potential Volunteers
    3. Outreach and Screening
    4. Follow-Up and Orientation

If you are new to volunteer recruitment and/or your organization doesn’t have a formal process in place, you’ll need to do a little pre-planning including:

Establishing a volunteer recruitment group or team:

If your organization doesn’t have a staff volunteer manager, or a recruitment committee in place, consider gathering your existing Event Committee Chairs or your Board of Directors to establish a volunteer recruitment team to help identify, screen, orient and manage event volunteers.

In addition, depending on the number of volunteers you need and the scope of the event, you might want to consider dividing up the recruitment tasks among a number of volunteers. For example, if there are a number of committees for the event, perhaps each Committee Chair can take responsibility for recruiting their own team (e.g., Publicity; Registration; Logistics/venue; Silent Auction; etc.)

Defining Volunteer Needs:

To help promote an optimal experience for volunteer and to ensure that you have the right person for each volunteer job, it’s important to define specific volunteer assignments or roles. If there is no legacy volunteer information available, this will involve:

  • Identifying volunteer job categories: For example, for an event, you might need volunteers for...
    • Program development (speakers; silent auction; entertainment, etc.)
    • Registration / Ticket sales (pre-event and on-site at event)
    • Publicity (website; event reminders; calendar of events; press, etc.)
    • Logistics:  venue/catering management

  • Determining how many volunteers you’ll need for each job/assignment and whether you need additional team leaders or supervisors

Creating volunteer position descriptions:

For each specific job role, it is important to create a job description. This helps you match the right volunteer with the right job and also helps the volunteer understand exactly what’s required of him/her. The job description might include:

  • A “Job title”
  • Necessary qualifications/experience required (e.g., knowledge of excel; driver’s license; A/V experience, etc.)
  • Specific responsibilities and tasks involved
  • Overview of time commitment (e.g., 8 hrs on day of event; 2 weeks prior to event? etc.)
  • Indication of who will supervise this role and other team members involved
  • Outline of benefits – what’s in it for the volunteer? (e.g., support for a great cause; fun volunteer team; inside look at an exciting event; etc.)

Also check out the Additional Resources section at the end of this document for further sources of information on writing volunteer job descriptions.

Determining the type of recruitment method that best suits your needs:

There are a number of recruitment methods – which one would work for your organization? In an informative post – Recruiting Volunteers – Three Approaches – Joanne Fritz (About.com Guide) outlines three recruitment methods suggested by Rick Lynch and Steve McCurley, authors of Essential Volunteer Management:

  • Warm Body Recruitment – used when you need a large number of volunteers with minimum qualifications so you undertake a broad dissemination of information
  • Targeted Recruitment – this method is for recruiting volunteers with specific skills
  • Concentric Circles Recruitment – contacting individuals already in direct or indirect contact with your organization

If you’re looking for volunteers for a local event you probably want to focus mainly on a “Concentric Circles" style of recruitment. But you might also need some “Targeted” volunteers as well.  If that is the case, perhaps you can use a strategy that combines the two. See the next section - Targeting Potential Volunteers - for details on what this might entail.


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Getting Started with Volunteer Recruitment by Wild Apricot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.wildapricot.com.

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