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How to Craft a Volunteer Recruitment Plan

Crafting a volunteer recruitment plan is a strategic move if you want to capitalize on volunteers for successful operations within your organization, social cause, or event. Volunteers may fill a key role in day-to-day tasks, raising awareness about social causes and improving a company’s image within the local communities.

A strategic volunteer recruitment plan has a few essential components:

  • company mission statement;

  • need of volunteers assessment;

  • resources assessment;

  • volunteer program development;

  • volunteer recruitment;

  • volunteer training;

  • evaluation.

These are the main components of a strategic plan. Still, you should customize each according to your organizations’ needs and scope of activity.

When you start planning to use volunteers, you must first define your mission and assess your need for using volunteers. Then, develop a volunteer program to determine the types of volunteers you need, their roles, and more.

Define your mission: A corporate mission statement will make volunteers understand your scope of business and core values. It also includes a few words about its staff, headquarters, and brief history. An example of an impactful mission statement from UNESCO:

“UNESCO's mission is to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication, and information.”

UNESCO goes on to explain how the organization works and lists a few objectives that support its mission statement:

  • “Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning

  • Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development

  • Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges

  • Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, and a culture of peace

  • Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication.”

Assess your need for volunteers: does your organization need external volunteers, or can you use your existing paid staff to volunteer for social causes? Will you use external volunteers to save money, or do you have other plans? How will the use of volunteers affect your paid staff?

It could help to brainstorm about the volunteers’ role within your organization and how to create a comfortable working environment between them and your employees. Then, define what types of volunteers you will need and what they will do.

Assess your resources: You must understand that while volunteers do not require remunerations, you will need financial resources to run a volunteering program, so plan accordingly. First, you will need to invest in marketing materials to advertise your program to attract volunteers. Then, it will cost you time and effort to screen volunteers, train the one you select, and have a rewards system in appreciation of their work.

Develop the volunteer program: first, define the volunteering opportunity and its significance for the greater good or your organization. In other words, determine the purpose of your volunteer program to make it clear for management and staff the role volunteers will play within your organization.

Then, form a board of directors or volunteer coordinators in charge of the program. They will also be in charge of volunteer recruitment methods (print or digital), promoting volunteer opportunities at events or with the media, supervising volunteer orientation and training, and setting up a volunteer appreciation program.

Volunteers need to understand what’s expected of them and their roles within a project or organization. Therefore, volunteer coordinators should be in charge of the description of the volunteer positions. These descriptions must include everything the volunteer may need or want to know:

  • The position title: example, assistant to the manager.

  • Purpose of the position: schedule and coordinate meetings, respond to email and phone calls, set up conference calls, perform administrative tasks like filing and photocopying, etc.

  • Volunteer’s worksite: company headquarters.

  • Coordinator: the person to whom the volunteer reports directly.

  • Support: training, volunteer orientation, handbooks.

  • Length of appointment: six months.

  • Qualifications: education, work experience, and skills required to perform the tasks.

  • Benefits: for example, freebies and volunteer appreciation gifts.

Recruiting: Volunteer recruitment begins with marketing because you must first attract them to apply for a volunteering opportunity. You can use any method or methods that fit into the budget you planned for this purpose:

  • printed materials, like flyers, posters, brochures, postcards, or ads in newspapers;

  • social media outreach: on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.;

  • social media ads and Google Ads: for social media, consider Facebook, which has a unique ad system to help you recruit volunteers;

  • websites where you can submit opportunity announcements for volunteers;

  • volunteer referral services;

  • volunteer organizations;

  • emails or newsletters;

  • peer-to-peer SMS or mass text messaging.

Once the volunteers learn about a volunteering opportunity, they will apply for it. What follows for you is a screening process. You will only select a few from hundreds of applications.

Finally, during the selection process, you will “hire” only the volunteers who meet the requirements desired for the roles they will occupy in your organization or within the project.

Training: To train volunteers, you must provide the necessary training materials (handbook) and conduct an orientation with their coordinators.

Orientation should introduce volunteers to other team members and present the scope of the activity. In addition to making volunteers feel like a part of the team, you should also make them understand that they represent your organization during their contract with you, even in outside circles.

Assign orientation leaders and schedule orientation at a time and pace manageable by the volunteers: they must all be present to understand their roles and the nature of their activities. During orientation, you must also explain to volunteers how you plan to evaluate their work and what rewards system you have in place.

Give volunteers written materials detailing your company’s mission, policies, opportunity description and purpose, and their roles and benefits.

Evaluation: you must establish how you will review and appraise your volunteers from the start. Then give them a trial period to adjust to their roles and understand your policies.

Schedule regular meetings to discuss performance and job satisfaction and listen to your volunteers’ ideas for improvements where applicable. Lastly, when you agree to changes during performance meetings, you must establish new methods of evaluation and appraisal.

End evaluation positively and encourage volunteer participation with rewards that recognize their value and work well done.

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