Recruiting Volunteers: Lessons Learned from Employee Staffing
Nonprofit organizations should be investing time and resources into mission related activities, but many are focused on attracting and retaining top-tiered human capital. The million dollar question always seems to be "how exactly does a nonprofit recruit the right volunteers?"
Although there is no simple answer, there are many lessons learned from employee recruitment that apply to volunteer recruitment. In fact, a recent study by Deloitte, identified organizations can spend up to $4,400 per employee on staffing expenditures, which only highlights why researching and investing in streamlined recruitment is important. Below are simple tried and true employee recruitment strategies that nonprofit organizations can apply to attracting volunteers.
First, determine a volunteer recruitment strategy and a process for screening applicants. There are three basic methods for recruiting volunteers: warm body , targeted , and concentric circles.
Warm body recruitment is used to fill either a very large number of volunteer slots or the volunteer job to be done doesn’t require any special qualifications. Although warm body recruitment may work for special events such as fun runs or community fairs, targeted recruitment is a better strategy when looking for a volunteer that requires special skills or an investment in training. Targeted recruiting is the process of consciously planning a campaign, the result of which is the delivery of your recruitment message to a specific audience. In contrast, concentric circles recruitment involves identifying populations who are already involved with your agency and attempting to recruit them. Imagine your agency at the center of a bull’s eye with concentric circles around it. The first ring represents the family and friends of your current volunteers and staff. The next ring represents your clientele and their families. A large advantages of using the concentric circles strategy is your targeted audience is already familiar with your agency or with the problem you are addressing.
Second, it is important to market volunteer job opportunities in more than one way. In addition to posting your volunteer advertisement on your own website, try posting it on popular recruitment boards, like VolunteerMatch or ServeNebraska’s very own NebraskaImpact. But remember to track this investment in talent by identifying where your volunteers are coming from so you can determine what board gets you the best candidates. Additionally, a cost-saving tool is social media; share, share, share your opportunities on all social media avenues; especially when JobVite found 1 in 6 people credit social media with finding their current job.
Third, don’t forget about your current volunteers. Individuals already committed to your organization are the best recruiters. In 2011, employee referrals accounted for the second largest staffing source for open positions (16%), behind job boards and internal candidates,
which tied for first at 19%. Atypical referral bonus can be beneficial, however not necessary, all you need to do is cultivate a great work environment that employees are proud of. If current volunteers are willing to serve as an organizational champion, by recruiting their connections with a friends or family members, potential volunteers are more likely to be persuaded to serve.
Finally, don't feel guilty about screening volunteers. It imperative that you find the right fit for your organization. Low person-organization fit has been shown to result in poor performance, undesirable work attitudes, and intentions to quit. Within the first year of service, in just 12 months, 3/4 of new volunteers terminate their service. Yet, many organizations continue to utilize the "I'll take any volunteer" approach, which rarely attracts the number nor type of volunteers required. Therefore, just as you would when hiring an employee, ensure that your investment in volunteer recruitment and on-boarding is fruitful by taking the time to vet each volunteer. Choosing the right volunteer for the situation or job will save you time and effort.