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Need more chapter volunteers?

Is your answer yes to the question? Even chapters with all their volunteer seats filled are often still looking for volunteers. We’ve talked with twelve chapters from twelve different associations about how they are filling their volunteer needs. Here are five tips we learned!

(1) Have a team whose job is building your volunteer pool. Pull together a team of people who like to connect people. You can call it the Membership Engagement Team, Welcome Team, or the Talent Council. Led by a Director of Volunteering and Outreach, Director of Volunteer Services, VP of Volunteers, or the Talent Scout (here are job descriptions). They seek “talent” (aka volunteers) and match them to cool opportunities (aka jobs). The goal is to develop a talent pool and a pool of activities. This pool of activities should include big and small jobs. It should offer variety of engagement levels and time commitments. The focus is on connecting members.

(2) Think micro and ad hoc volunteering. We are all time-starved and therefore find it very difficult to say yes to a long commitment. Micro-volunteering is small, bite-sized volunteer opportunities that can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to complete. Each chapter will have different volunteering opportunities. Here are a few micro opportunities, I have seen organizations offer members: Submit paper or manuscript for publication, day of service, and day-of event volunteers. Ad hoc volunteering is a one-and-done jobs where volunteers have a specific purpose or mission. Ad hoc opportunities are typically a three to six-month commitment. Examples of ad hoc opportunities include volunteering to be part of a task force or pilot-test team. What’s on your list of small volunteer opportunities?

Read more from chapter leaders on To Deepen Member Engagement, Redefine Volunteering.

(3) Flip the script. Interview members on their interests and skills. Then share the many ways they can apply their skills and knowledge in helping the chapter get the job done. Try questions like “what is your [insert profession] passion” and “what skills and expertise would you like to bring to volunteering.” Making this work means starting with the person not the open position.

How many of your call for nominations is a list of open positions – most with a term? This is one of the biggest reasons we get lots of “no’s”.

(4) Make it easy to raise a hand. Chapters are following the lead of national associations in providing their members easy sign-up options. Members will go looking for volunteer opportunities, so you must make it easy for them to say “yes”. Easy online interest forms break down the first barrier of volunteering.

Utilize your membership management system for your easy volunteer sign-up. Prospective volunteers are already members that you have lots of data on, so there’s no need to ask for information you already have at your fingertips.

(5) Ramp up the volunteer message. An important part of recruitment is to communicate the value of volunteering. And, we’re talking about the value to the volunteer. Not, the value of the volunteer. Your volunteer messaging is more successful when it’s specific and inspiring. Paint a picture of what the volunteer role is along with the desired outcomes. Sell the value of volunteering and give your members a compelling list of benefits of volunteering. What’s your volunteer value-prop?

There you have it – five tips to increase your chapter volunteers. Implementing these five tips will help you recruit more volunteers.

Engage with your members in each stage of the volunteer journey.
Whether your volunteer program is new, or your existing volunteer program needs a boost, download The Small Association’s Guide to Developing a High-Performing Volunteer Program.

Peggy M. Hoffman is president and Mariner’s resident expert on communication, marketing and building community. Learn more about Peggy Hoffman, here.