I had my annual appraisal at work last Friday. They are always strange experiences – you spend time blowing your own trumpet, then your boss suggests a few ways to change your tune…
One of the achievements that was highlighted was bringing down the cost of recruiting the 130 volunteers Chance UK needs every year to zero. I’m quite proud of that, and believe that other charities could also recruit their volunteers without splashing the cash.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Only ask people who are already interested in helping
It’s tempting to say that anyone can be a volunteer. It may be true, but you’ve already won more than half the battle if you focus on those who already want to help, and are now just looking for the right opportunity. If you try to recruit someone who hadn’t thought about volunteering before, you’ll have to win that battle too.
2. Reduce the information on your website
If they found you online, they probably found lots of other volunteering opportunities too and are skimming through them all. Give them the basics on your website, or reduce it to a two minute video that inspires them to find out more. When they take the next step (such as coming to an information session), you can provide the finer details. They’ll be so motivated by this point, they won’t mind that they’re boring 🙂
3. Don’t bother telling them how wonderful it is
I am always tempted to describe how life changing and wonderful it is to see a child make progress when recruiting potential Chance UK mentors. I still do it. Increasingly though, I find that if they’re sitting in front of me, they already know it’s inspiring – all they want to know is what you want them to do.
4. Put them at ease
People’s motivations for volunteering vary. Most people genuinely want to help in some way. This makes the whole activity very personal for them. So from the first time they read about you on your website through to you telling them more, address common concerns, crack a joke…anything that helps them relax.
5. Be great
Whether online or offline, word of mouth is by far the best promotional tool you’ve got. If a friend tells me your charity is worth volunteering for, I’ll believe them, because I trust them. If you do it, I’ll know you’re paid to say that. And the best way to encourage this is by providing a great volunteering experience. Be nice to current volunteers, have a structured programme, give excellent support. Then your volunteers will have a great experience with you, and will spread the word on your behalf – for free.
I hope that’s helpful – next time I’ll set out the various websites and services that have helped me reduce recruitment costs to zero.