Volunteer Recruitment

The identification, cultivation and selection of potential component board members should be an annual focus, not a last minute search. Recruitment should not be done only when there are position openings. This allows time to build a pool of potential candidates and allow time for potential volunteers to become acquainted with the roles and meet volunteers in current positions. Below is an outline to assist the nominating committee in being successful in executive committee and board development.
Step 1
IDENTIFY the needs of the component executive committee or board. 
  • What skills, knowledge, perspectives, and connections, are needed to implement the strategic plan?
  • How can a diverse board be built to include volunteers of different backgrounds, ages, financial situations, and cultural and ethnic backgrounds?
  • What gaps will need to be filled in the future?
  • What attributes or qualities are important for volunteers to have?

Step 2
CULTIVATE potential executive committee or board members to develop a pool of candidates for potential board membership. Ask current executive committee or board members and others to suggest potential candidates
  • Have executive committee or board members list at least two people they know who might be a strong candidate. For every prospect, note what qualities they have that match the criteria identified in step 1.
  • Recruit from within your organization.
  • Ask volunteers to work on a task force or ad hoc committee to gain exposure to the organization.
  • Invite members to executive committee or board meetings to learn more.
Step 3
RECRUIT prospects. Describe why a prospective executive committee or board member is wanted and needed.
  • Explain expectations and responsibilities of volunteers. Do not minimize requirements.
  • Invite questions, elicit interest, and determine if the individual is prepared to serve.
  • Do not place a volunteer in a position just because it is open. Match the volunteer to the skill requirements.
  • Introduce candidates to current board members and key staff.
  • Provide a job description and explain expectations.
  • Ask if the individual would be willing to serve and encourage them to make a thoughtful decision.
  • Welcome newly elected or appointed volunteers to acquaint them with the new role.
  • Candidates should be informed in writing to emphasize the importance of the role.
  • Provide information on the orientation process. 

Locating Potential Volunteers

Any member, whether recently joined or joined 50 years ago, can volunteer. In order to use recruiting time wisely, consider targeting individuals who have been active in the past, are currently active, or are looking for ways to understand your component in more detail – for instance:
  • Past and current task force participants.
  • Past award winners (at component and national level).
  • Past volunteers.
  • Past speakers at component and district meetings.
  • Members who post often on discussion forums and electronic mailing lists.
  • Recruit members who actively visit and/or participate on social media blogs for more technology-savvy positions (blogger, web master).
  • Student/Resident members seeking volunteer opportunities.
  • Use member surveys to see who has indicated an interest in volunteering
  • Engage new members.
  • Recent graduates and interns.
  • Include a question on member or event surveys asking if people are interested in getting involved
  • Host volunteer recruitment meetings during symposiums or events
Leverage current and past volunteers to help spread the word to their peers about areas for volunteers to get involved. Current and past volunteers can also suggest names of individuals that may be strong candidates.

Conversations about Volunteering

When asking members to volunteer, it is important to be honest and enthusiastic as this will help recruit volunteers committed to the roles and the component as opposed to volunteers who feel they were pressured to serve or misinformed.
When discussing volunteering with members, share:
  • Why you feel the member would be successful in the volunteer role (how their role will impact the overall component goals).
  • Estimated time commitment.
  • Resources available to the volunteer (orientation materials, templates, etc.)
  • Potential challenges for the position or organization.
  • Offer to put the person is touch with the person who previously held the position or a volunteer doing a similar job
  • The mission and goals of the organization.
  • Reasons why others have decided to volunteers (professional development, networking, leadership, etc.).

Recruitment Promotions

Aside from one-on-one conversations, the component should organize official recruitment campaigns. Keep these marketing guidelines in mind:
  • Determine the most effective marketing media outlets. Try a mixed approach. Most of the member audience will need to receive several messages (or ‘touches’) before acting. Aim to touch members at least, but no more than twice a month through a variety of formats.
  • For e-mail blasts or electronic mailing postings, look for a 20 to 30 percent open rate. For print materials, look for a 15 to 20 percent reaction to the piece.
  • Use as many as mediums possible, but avoid exceeding the two ‘touches’ per month. Some ideas are websites, newsletters, e-mail signatures, e-blasts, electronic mailing list postings, brochures, and social media.
Some organizations have success in recruiting volunteers through survey results. The survey may ask what types of activities the member is interested in doing, what their time commitment is, and the opportunity to provide more information about themselves.  The executive committee or board can then review this information and contact the volunteers directly to find out more. Try an online survey tool that allows for sharing of a link with your members via eblast, newsletter, or social media.