5 Tips to Recruit Professional Volunteers

Philip Manzano • Oct 03, 2017

Want the best talent? Read what a volunteer expert has to say about it! The post 5 Tips to Recruit Professional Volunteers appeared first on Keela.

Many small to medium-sized nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers. That’s just the reality of the sector. That’s why it’s so important to find professional volunteers who are experts in their field and can help to level up your organization and your work.

To get a better perspective on the issue, we spoke to Carine Strong, Executive Director of Volunteer MBC – a volunteer center in Ontario, and past chair of the Ontario Volunteer Centres Network .

After a meaningful discussion on volunteer engagement, we were able to pick out these 5 tips :

  • Treat volunteers and staff as equals – and look to fill meaningful positions in your team.
  • Make role descriptions flexible and fluid, to allow volunteers to place themselves in your work
  • Frequently demonstrate the impact volunteers are making to retain them and make sure you create a win-win
  • Work with local volunteer centres to leverage their impact and reach in the corporate sector
  • Engage a team of employee volunteers to open the door to future individual skilled participation

KEELA: What struggles have you seen organizations face when recruiting professional volunteers?

CARINE: A lot of the time, the struggle is with the organization, and not with the volunteer. Sometimes, organizations – especially small to medium non-profits – don’t have the right mindset. They need to start looking at the organization from a “people lens”. This means that volunteers and staff have to be looked at as equal. When you adopt this philosophy, you can start finding the right people.

Jim Collins said in his book, Good to Great, that in any organization, you have to make sure that you get the right people on the bus, and then get those people in the right seats. Volunteers are absolutely part of this.

KEELA: What tips do you give organizations who want professional volunteers?

CARINE: It all starts with the recruiting process, and the role descriptions. Make sure that these role descriptions are co-created, and have a lot of flexibility. When roles are rigid, it’s hard to find a perfect fit. Understand that your professional volunteers have a wealth of skills, and are experts in how to best utilize those skills.

Also internally, be sure to position these volunteer roles as projects, with defined timelines and end dates. This helps to alleviate the stress or fear of losing a job among the staff. It also helps them be a bit more open to the help!

KEELA: How do you attract professional volunteers?

CARINE: It’s a bit of a courting process. Start with group employee volunteering activities and build a working relationship with that group. Ensure that they buy into your mission and have a good experience and then hone in on those volunteers. Leverage the fact that these volunteers have now seen the need for their skills. Establish why skilled volunteers want to give their time to address the “what’s in it for them”. Then demonstrate the impact they are making and highlight the benefits for their career advancement and personal professional development.

KEELA: Any other tips to attract and keep professional volunteers?

CARINE: It comes back to impact. Do whatever you can to demonstrate that they are making a significant impact. Convey, from the onset, what the mission of your organization is, and relate that to your strategic mission. Then frequently demonstrate the value they bring to achieving this mission. Finally, look at these volunteers as investors. Investors who devote their time, money, skills, talents, resources, passion, commitment, expertise, experience, knowledge, drive, zeal, perspective, and so much more to help further your causes.

KEELA: Any other tips for small to medium non-profits looking for more skilled volunteers?

CARINE: Work with your local volunteer centres. It’s extremely important for volunteers to know that they are making an impact in their own community. Become a member of a volunteer centre and leverage their networks as well.

About Carine

Carine started Volunteer MBC in September 2008 and brought to the Centre a 30-year history in progressively senior management positions in the field of Customer and Community Relations, Corporate Social Responsibility, Marketing & Communications Travel/Event Management and Global Purchasing with Husky Injection Molding Systems.

Carine learned a life lesson around community and caring early in life, from her Father, who demonstrated that same sense of responsibility around giving back and who reminded Carine as she left for Canada as a young bride to “always be kind and make sure you help people.” And that’s just what Carine does now in her role as the Executive Director of Volunteer MBC, the Volunteer Centre for the Peel Region dedicated to connecting, serving and helping people. Philosophically, Carine describes Volunteer MBC as “a conduit for good,” as the matchmaker…connecting people to community organizations where they can help others and where in turn, they end up helping themselves. 

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