Recruiting Volunteers

The most important step for recruitment volunteers is planning. Of course, the planning depends on the scope of your volunteer needs.

Needs Assessment

The best place to begin is with a needs assessment.

    * What needs will the volunteer program address?
    * What will volunteers do?
    * Define the job. Determine the qualifications to do the job. Include such things as: a written position description, the purpose of the assignment, suggested activities, qualifications, time frame, supervision, and benefits, etc. Sounds complicated but it's really not.

Recruitment Message

The recruitment message should be inviting and encourage people to become involved with your program. Develop a recruitment message tailored to the volunteers being sought, such as students, professionals, neighborhood residents, or family members. Each message should identify:

    * The specific need the position will fill
    * How the volunteer will fill the need and enhance the program
    * The benefits to the volunteer.

Extending an Invitation

There are many techniques available for recruiting volunteers. Like the other aspects of recruiting volunteers, it just takes a little planning.

"Start with the resources in closest proximity to your agency. What untapped treasures might be across the street or on the next block"? says Susan J. Ellis, author of The Volunteer Recruitment Book

Ellis suggests you walk out your front door with a clipboard and pen (take along a volunteer for company), and write down everything you see: stores, businesses, parking lots, churches, apartment houses, schools, etc. The idea is to inventory everything you see and to envision each of these as a potential source for volunteers. If your neighbourhood consists of a lot of high-rise buildings housing businesses of allsorts, take an elevator ride and learn who your neighbours are. There may be what Ellis terms a "Mighty Corporation," in your own back yard who has a Corporate Social Responsibility program already in place and who will be more than happy to let you disseminate your volunteer requirement information within their organization.

Next, take your list and analyze it to see what businesses, schools, organizations, etc. may be able to offer in-kind services and supplies. Are there businesses that operate different shifts? You may be able to recruit daytime volunteers from staff who work afternoon or evening shifts, as would be the case at your local hospital.

Ask yourself:

    * If there are any students or seniors with daytime hours available?
    * Are there any professionals or sole practitioners such as artists, consultants, accountants, and others with valuable talents and who may be able to donate wither time or pro-bono services. Perhaps some of these resources may be able to donated goods or materials, storage space, parking space, use of various loaned equipment, etc.
    * Are their any similar organization you can contact to see if they have an overflow on their volunteer roster or to see if they'd be interested in joining volunteer efforts.

Once you have exhausted all the ways your neighbours may be able to help, it's time to introduce yourself and get the message out that you are looking for volunteers. Some recruitment techniques to try include:

    * Writing public service announcements and sending them to all print and broadcast media
    * Dropping off or mailing flyers and a brochure, then following up with a phone call
    * Writing articles for local newspapers and newsletters of other organizations
    * Attending volunteer fairs
    * Putting notices on Volunteer Internet web-sites
    * Contacting Volunteer Center referrals, like local union halls, the United Way, etc.
    * Sending notices to membership lists from other organizations
    * Calling the person in charge of Human Resources at your local business and inquiring about their Corporate Volunteer programs and the possibility of submitting your requirements.

Interviewing and Screening Volunteers

Volunteers are, without a doubt, a necessary and welcome part of any child care or school setting. But in the child care environment, volunteers, like employees, must be interviewed and screened for the safety of the children. In fact, in many provinces and states, it is the law. Screening also ensures the most appropriate match is made between volunteer and task. The following steps help you to ensure you've done all you can to screen volunteers for suitability to deliver your program.

1 Getting to Know Each Other (The Interview)
Each volunteer should go through a confidential interview process with yourself and another person or two from your centre, dayhome, or roster of parents. Have volunteers fill out a Volunteer Application Form prior to the interview to give you an opportunity to do a preliminary background check if time permits.

Plan your interview carefully. Refer to your job description. Ask open ended questions that give you more than a simple yes or no answer. Be sure to keep a record of the interview.

2. Determining the Volunteer's Suitability (Screening)
Once the interview is completed, consult with your panel of interviewers or discuss the applicant's suitability with the parents.

Most important of all, check the references of any person you consider for any position in your dayhome, centre or school. Ask yourself if you would you be willing to have Dave work one-on-one with your child? This is the most important question to ask a reference when you're screening adults who wish to volunteer, says Paddy Bowen, Executive Director of Volunteer Canada. in Reference Checks Are Vital! by Bryon Milliere, From the August/September 1997 issue of The Leader Magazine, Scouts Canada.

When a decision is made, let the volunteer know they have accepted for a probationary period to ensure everyone is happy with the arrangement.

3. Placing and Orienting the Volunteer
Take some time prior to your volunteer assisting with your program to show them around, meet the other staff members and parents if applicable. Monitor the volunteer closely for the first little while to ensure they fit in with the group and are a positive influence on all involved.

4. Evaluating and Appointing the Volunteer
Plan an evaluation session with the volunteer after your probationary period (usually three months), and go over their performance. Extend an appointment to a permanent volunteer position if everyone is happy with the arrangements. Your meeting with the new volunteer should provide some valuable feedback on how they have done so far.

5. Ongoing Monitoring
Continue to monitor the volunteer. In the interest of ensuring the safety of our children, we should never take anyone or any situation for granted.