Volunteers are people too. They share the same traits as any good employee who works in human services. They want to help others. Volunteers, like people in general, may have full-time jobs, may be retired, may have never worked in the work force as an employee, or may not be old enough to be employed full-time. Therefore, you can seek volunteers in many different places and recruitment efforts can be varied and creative.

Suggestions for places where you may recruit volunteers:
1.Schools and colleges
2.Senior citizen centers
3.Churches and synagogues
4.Service clubs and organizations
5.Professional organizations
6.Malls and shopping centers
7.Large companies and businesses in close proximity to your agency, hospital or office

If your volunteer needs are not limited to work during the normal day shift hours, recruit those who work during those times and may be willing to volunteer just before or after their normal work day. Don’t assume that after a day of work someone will not be willing to volunteer. In fact, that may be when it is most convenient for someone to donate her time.

You may also use written literature to recruit, such as flyers, surveys, and mailings to former clients and families. However, I consider the methods most successful in recruiting volunteers are:
Table Presentations: Remember that a table presentation is a prop to draw in an audience. You don’t have to sit behind it. In fact it’s better to circulate around it. Be outgoing and talk to passers-by. Have a lively and upbeat pitch. Have a sign-in sheet for additional information or to sign up for mailings regarding news and events in the future. Giveaways help. Never leave a table unattended.
Special Events: Plan events around an anniversary or special occasion. You may want to schedule the event in a business, if allowed, during a targeted shift. Say you want to recruit volunteers for night shift. Plan your event during the evening shift or day shift so you can interest workers getting off before night shift or getting off after night shift.
Speeches: The most effective speeches aren’t about becoming a volunteer but about the worth of the work that you do, why it’s important, and those whom it helps. At the end of the speech you may then call for volunteers. Keep the request short and simple.
Phone banks: Use the sign-in sheets you had at your table presentations. Let employees, board members and interested parties phone for you and follow-up on possible interest in volunteering. Having a volunteer phone also helps because the volunteer can tell the potential new volunteer how wonderful his or her experience has been.

Word-of-mouth: The best advertising is word-of-mouth. If you cultivate a work place that is fair, fruitful and fun, the word will spread.

Before you hire volunteers make sure you’ve done your planning. Draft a job description for the volunteer’s role in the organization. The description should specify title, general responsibilities, special work-related skills required, special physical activity needed, and training and credentials required or preferred. Note the essential and non-essential job activities. Make sure it addresses the person to whom the volunteer reports and the hours and days per week to be worked. Also prepare a volunteer handbook with all policies and procedures they must follow.

Makes sure you determine the approximate cost of the new role. If you were paying the volunteer, what would the normal salary range be? Estimate normal fringe benefits to be between thirty-five and forty percent of the salary Also add costs incurred such as training, equipment, space required in the office for the volunteer, postage, copying, etc. Then show how much you are saving by hiring the volunteer versus an employee. These are figures you can share with your boss and upper administration.

The figures also give you a selling point when recruiting volunteers. Let’s say you have twenty volunteers work an average of sixteen hours per week at an approximate cost of $7.00 per hour with fringe benefits at forty percent. If they were employees, you would have incurred approximately $163,000 in costs. So, in your next recruitment flyer, you tell people how important volunteers are. Not only do they help others (have testimonials), but they saved you $163,000 you can use to help your business.

Finally, when you hire the volunteer, make sure to check their resumes, references and background checks just as you would a regular employee. Also work with the volunteer to complete a volunteer commitment form. The form should state the needs you have that are being filled by the volunteer. Develop and write down the goals the volunteer is committed to reach and when they should be completed. Specify who will help her reach those goals. Delineate the time, budget and other resources needed to reach the goals.

Thoroughly orient your volunteers to the general policies and procedures in the volunteer handbook. Have each volunteer sign a form stating that you have reviewed the policies with him and that he understands and agrees to abide by those policies.

Keeping volunteers, just as keeping employees, depends on your own open and honest management, voiced appreciation of work performed, making the workplace productive and fun, and providing proper support. You must always live up to those things you promise to do and to provide the volunteer during the recruitment and hiring phase. By being true to your word, you create an atmosphere where the volunteer feels successful. And a successful volunteer is a loyal volunteer.

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