Working with Volunteers
In order to work with volunteers, you must first recruit them. Recruitment methods vary by location (i.e. rural vs. urban) and volunteer type (Boy Scouts, students, retirees, etc.). Before beginning recruitment, think about the unique characteristics of your community and the most common modes of communication. If you are in a rural community, word-of-mouth may be the best way to recruit for an event. In an urban community you might focus on digital recruitment.
You should also consider what types of volunteers and what their individual motivations for volunteering may be. Many high schools require service hours for graduation, so you might contact the local high school's counselor. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts regularly participate in service projects. If you are restoring a park, homeowners near the park would be great potential volunteers.
- Online Postings: Volunteermatch.org, local newspapers, community calendars, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.)
- Post fliers around the project area
- Ask your friends, family and coworkers
- Presentations to local civic groups such as Rotary, Garden Club, etc.
- Ask local businesses to participate
- Contact your local schools
- Faith-based groups
Tips for Keeping Volunteers Happy
- If your event takes place during a meal time, provide a snack (which can be donated by a local business).
- Provide clear instructions before beginning work and make sure each volunteer understands them.
- Be available to answer questions throughout the event.
- Read how to combat the "Same Six Symptom" and volunteer fatigue.
- Be sure to thank them.
Thank Your Volunteers
Thanking your volunteers is the key for keeping them happy and increases the chances of them returning to your next event. Thank you's can be as simple as saying "thank you" at the event, or more involved like having raffle prizes.
- Send personal thank you cards, emails or letters after the event
- Invite a reporter from your local newspaper (or submit your own story) to give recognition
- Provide a certificate to each volunteer
- Give thank you gifts (can be hand crafted or donated by local businesses)
- Present awards (gag or serious)