For obvious reasons, volunteers are essential to the success and profitability of any fundraising campaign. But finding willing and able volunteers can be a tricky thing; sure, every parent or member of your group should want to see your organization succeed and meet its fundraising goals, but people are busy and good volunteers are often overloaded with requests.
Why Good Help Is So Hard To Find
To find and recruit good volunteers, it helps first to understand some of the reasons people do not step up to the plate, even though they may want to. Some of the more common reasons people don’t offer themselves as volunteers include:
– They weren’t asked, personally.
– They are busy with other obligations, paid work, and life in general.
– They have been used and abused by fundraisers before, or have too much already on their volunteer plate.
– They are overwhelmed and don’t know what to expect, or are unsure if they have the required skills for the job.
– They may be interested in a volunteer position, but can’t find anyone available to explain the details. A lack of organization may be a turn-off.
Busting Up Road Blocks
If you can help your pool of potential volunteers overcome some of these hurdles and misgivings, they will be happy to contribute to the success of your fundraiser and, subsequently, your organization. There are a number of steps you can take to remove the road blocks prohibiting volunteers.
Define roles and responsibilities – Prepare (and KEEP) written descriptions of each position and what is expected of the volunteer fulfilling that role. Be sure to include any specialized skills the job might require, and if other support people will be available to help.
Outline time requirements – Estimate the time each position will take; that way, everyone can take a job they can foresee having time for.
Delegate – Structure your volunteer base so that other people have volunteers ready to be delegated to.
Allow for position-sharing – People are more likely to volunteer if they know they are not going it alone, and that they have backup in the event of a conflict, emergency, or question.
Mount an informational campaign – Prepare flyers and letters to let people know that a recruitment campaign is ongoing, and/or that a new fundraiser is in the works and needs their help. Consider leaving flyers in places previously not considered, for example the local community college, blackboard in community park etc. Present the planned fundraiser or volunteer committee during an event or meeting, or host a dedicated night. Always provide printed literature with plenty of contact information and some expectations of need. (A good time to do this is at the beginning of the year or school year, before schedules are filled and when spirit is at its best).
Specifically ask people, in person, if they will volunteer – This can be done in a variety of ways, including setting up a table at a well-attended event (or in a busy hallway), calling people individually (and following up), and passing the call via word-of-mouth at every available opportunity.
Post sign-up sheets in obvious places to encourage and offer people an easy way to get involved.
Have a designated contact person, address and/or phone number – When volunteers want to sign up, or have questions about the position or your group, where can they go to for information? This is often a weak point where potential volunteers are lost. Make sure your contact info is easy to find (on flyers, websites, newsletters etc.) and that there is actually someone available to answer questions. Any queries should be answered within a business day.
Good planning is the key to getting volunteers to commit to your fundraising project. With a well-thought out fundraising campaign, and an organized, informational volunteer recruitment program, you will find plenty of people who can and will do their part to reach your fundraising goals.