You need volunteers, your organization needs volunteers, and without them you will not succeed. In short, you need people to willingly give their time freely so that your organization can financially support your vision, calling, and purpose. You need and rely upon these special people called volunteers.
I am paid to manage these special people as the current organization I work for relies upon 150 volunteers to accomplish it's tasks. Understanding volunteers is a virtue of mine as I also serve in the trenches with volunteers for a number of nonprofits.
From volunteering as a Fire/EMS chaplain to fundraiser with Muscular Dystrophy's Fill the Boot, my life is that of a volunteer. My passion for providing clean drinking water for peoples around the world and curing Polio is the reason for my thirty year involvement with Rotary International.
In Recruiting Volunteers: Part One, I previously covered three points:
1. Know what you need - say what you need.
2. Where's the Passion?
3. Tell the story!
Two more considerations:
4. Transfer the Burden! Rip your heart out for your cause and present it before your audience! Put your passion in their laps! When first presenting MDA Fill the Boot to a particular group of firefighters there was some hesitancy. Questions ensued, "How much work will it require? We are so busy with training, drills, and calls we just don't have time for another fundraiser." All honest questions, then, I shared my brother Robert's battle with Muscular Dystrophy, complete with pictures of him in his wheel chair. Interest grew, and now, Fill the Boot is a yearly event with 70% firefighter participation. And, last count, twenty-five firefighters averaged $1,500.00 an hour in fundraising by encouraging people to stuff money into their firefighter's boots while dodging traffic at a major intersection in town. Transfer your heart to your prospective volunteers, and you will garner dedicated workers!
5. Be Aware of Their Surroundings. I've watched this mistake unfold both by Americans and Europeans visiting in South Africa, and right here in Northern, Minnesota. A number of years ago a young woman representing a major nonprofit came to the Iron Range to recruit volunteers. Things did not go very well. The problem? The young woman came to an extremely conservative area of great people dressed in a somewhat "provocative" outfit. Her Capri pants were short and tight, her blouse was tight and slightly revealing, and whether right or wrong . . . zero people volunteered to assist her organization's cause. Perhaps, a more approachable beginning might have favored business attire instead?
Once in South Africa, Dr. L visited our orphans feeding centers. Volunteers where readied, enthusiasm grew, and the entire village along with dignitaries from the community waited for an individual who arrived almost three hours late. Dr. L's cause was dead on arrival. My African friends considered his late arrival an issue of inferiority. Sad part is, I stressed that very point to Dr. L before his visit! His failure to heed my caution and treat Africans as equals forever lost any consideration of his organization's offer of assistance in that particular village.
Volunteers are the crème de la crème off any organization's success. They need to be highly valued, encouraged, and rewarded for their efforts.
Don has worked with hundreds of volunteers during his thirty plus year career in Africa and the United States.