Engage technology to get volunteers in the door with purposeful recruitment strategies
Just about everyone online shops. It’s not hard to find yourself down an Amazon rabbit hole. Before long you end up wondering how you landed on the page of a Bob Ross Coffee Mug. This wasn’t a mistake (or a happy accident). You searched for what’s important to you as a consumer and read through product descriptions until you connected with a product offering . Like consumer products, companies are using job postings and the benefits they offer to sell potential employees on why they should work for them. Your volunteer opportunities should do the same.
In Part 1 of this series, we identified the common personal, educational and communication roadblocks that can impact recruiting and retaining volunteers. If your organization is constantly running into these same barriers it’s time to take a look at how you can breathe new life into your recruitment strategy.
How is your organization getting volunteers in the door and excited to contribute? Technology doesn’t have to replace this strategy and process. It allows you to more easily grow, implement and manage that process. Here are three ways to harness tech resources and make your volunteer opportunities more attractive to potential volunteers:
People are busier than ever. You don’t want to lose out on volunteers because you are not equipped with opportunities that fit into their available time. Research has found that 60% of volunteers want smaller, ad hoc jobs. Microvolunteering fits the bill by offering short term, convenient assignments. Providing these jobs gets volunteers in the door and connecting with your organization, maximizing the potential for them to volunteer again in the future.
How do you find micro-volunteer opportunities in your organization? You don’t have to come up with them on your own. Engage a representative from each functional area in your organization. Challenge them to look internally, and start saying: What are my bigger projects or initiatives that we can have volunteers help with on a micro level? For small assignments, you likely don’t need a full job description to post. There are several automated sign-up tools you can use to fill time slots for these opportunities.
Leverage this tool to automate the sign-up process:
SignUp Genius: SignUp Genius is an online tool where you can post opportunities, a description of it, how long it will take to do the activity, and how many slots are available. Volunteers enter their information and can also view who else is signed up. Opportunities can be posted to different channels, so you can use your organization’s website.
Get the best person for the job, not the person around the corner. You don’t want to catch yourself in the position of having to turn down a talented volunteer just because they aren’t in the same physical location. Many volunteers are opting for virtual volunteer opportunities. Offering remote positions shows your organization can accommodate any lifestyle and is striving to make work more accessible for challenges like mobility, obligations and work schedule. How is your organization arming volunteers so they can start engaging offsite?
Start thinking about how you can use video conferencing tools to facilitate collaboration. These platforms allow for a virtual presence when volunteers may not be able to be physically present.
Another way you can approach this is by looking at your current activities. Do you already have virtual activities and initiatives in place? How does volunteerism fit into that? Could you find a volunteer to contribute to your website? Do you have a volunteer in your network that is a website designer, IT specialist, or content writer?
Virtual volunteering can also be easier on tightening budgets. Virtual meetings cut down on reimbursements needed for gas and travel for volunteers that would otherwise have long commutes. Commuting can curtail potential volunteers, with research showing that long commutes can be expected to reduce the time and opportunity individuals have to connect to other people and organizations in their communities.
Leverage these tools to interface, interact and collaborate with volunteers who are at a distance:
Zoom: A video conferencing platform that can be used to increase face time with remote volunteers.
Google Docs (or OneDrive): A real-time collaboration and document authoring tool. Multiple people can access and edit a document at the same time, including presentations and spreadsheets.
Align Professions and Strengths
Volunteers can gift not only their time, but their professional talent. Align your volunteer’s professions and strengths with the opportunities you have available. Doing this not only allows you to tap into highly skilled work, but provides your volunteer relevant experience that they can put on a resume. Volunteering is associated with an increased likelihood of finding employment. Volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.
You can mine your own volunteer database to align volunteers or put out a survey to ask important questions. What are they interested in? What do they like doing? What are they passionate about? Peggy Hoffmann, from Mariner Management and Marketing LLC, says.
“We should practice “the ask.” Teach our staff and current volunteers how to frame the conversation about volunteering, how to invite someone to volunteer, and how to follow up on that conversation.”
Volunteers that are interested and searching for long-term opportunities aren’t interested in just a photo-op event. Giving volunteers significant work that is meaningful to them will keep them coming back.
Leverage your current database to identify professions, or ask via a survey tool:
Survey Monkey: Free tool to gather data on volunteer interests and align opportunities with professions.