In Part 1, we looked at a volunteer (Team Member 3) whose team had dissolved. Would he stay? Would he go? Let’s look at the rest of the story.
At times, leaders pressured with the task of recruiting volunteers to fully staff an organization can get blinded by the trappings of “we’ve always done it this way.” That way may not be bad or wrong. Sometimes, though, adjustment may be called for.
In the case of Team Member 3, we realized that putting him into a new team was not going to be a good solution. At the same time, we identified a stress point for our team and created a new job description that fit him very well.
In many cases, recruiting is a year-round process. Just when you think you are fully staffed, someone gets sick or moves away. Typically, it’s much easier to keep a veteran volunteer than to assimilate a new volunteer. In the case of a reluctant volunteer, helping them get one foot inside the door of your organization may be a key to inviting them to a higher level of commitment.
I am pleased to say that Team Member 3 fully embraced his new volunteer position. In some ways, he’s keeping just one foot in my department while the other foot is starting to drift towards the department where his children are now involved. His current role fills a vital need in the organization I oversee. The newly created position allows him to complete his volunteer task within the first half of the program, and he is then able to go to a Bible Study for adults.
Sure, a couple times a month he is a little bit late, but his fulfillment level is high because he still gets to volunteer in an area of passion without giving up new relationships in the adult class. Additionally, before the time comes for him to fully move to another area of volunteering, my department is capitalizing on his interests and experience within our organization to establish the new position and refine that job description.
To help prospective volunteers get a glimpse inside your organization, or to assimilate new volunteers onto your team, evaluate “front doors.” Make sure that there are easy ways for prospective volunteers to get one foot inside the door of your organization. If you are really headed a positive direction and have a successful team for them to join, just a glimpse is likely to show them what they need to see. It may be a huge part of convincing them to join at a deeper level.
Here are some ideas for starters:
1) Create new short-term jobs.
2) Have a system of purposefully using ‘substitutes’ along-side veterans.
3) Regularly host preview or open house type of events that showcase your organization.
4) Instead of staffing an event with all tried and true loyalists, invite prospective volunteers into one-time type positions that give them a taste of the organization and start building relationships with other volunteers.
5) Finally, don’t forget to find ways to help outgoing volunteers keep one foot in your organization, such as filling in as a substitute, or transferring their knowledge and interests to a new position.
Remember, volunteers and volunteer organizations change and grow. Pay attention so that the volunteer positions change and grow along with them!