Volunteers are a vital part of non-profits, especially when it comes to organizing and running successful events. Recently Mark West with HGAFundraising interviewed Mike Wilson with Ducks Unlimited about how to harness the skills of volunteers on your event committees and sub-committees. Keep reading to learn more!
Don’t limit your recruiting to specific events. If you meet someone who expresses interest in what you do, simply ask them if they would like to get involved.
A great place to find potential volunteers is at your events, which is why it is so important to get some basic contact details at each of your events. Someone who has attended multiple events is interested in the work you do. That would be someone who is likely to be receptive if you talk to them about other ways they can get involved.
Mike Wilson from Ducks Unlimited says they start recruiting volunteers as far in advance as possible. As soon as the date has been set and they’ve secured a venue, they will recruit volunteers because they need them in the lead-up to the event date as well as on the day of the event. This is on top of regular volunteer recruitment drives where they recruit volunteers for their chapters across the entire organization.
Recruiting Younger Volunteers
Many non-profits find it difficult to get younger volunteers, especially in the 25- to 35-year-old range involved in volunteering. Mike says Ducks Unlimited has opened university chapters to get university students involved in their mission and volunteering with them. Even if they aren’t able to volunteer once they graduate, the hope is they will come back once their career and/or family are stable enough to allow them.
Create targeted events to recruit young volunteers, like a happy hour or activity that creates more of a social atmosphere. If you have young people on your committees already, ask them what events would appeal to people of their age range. You can also tap into the youth on your committee by asking them to get their friends involved.
The two most important roles of an event committee are:
Outside of that, depending on the size of the committee, tasks and responsibilities will be delegated based on the skills and resources of each member of the committee. For example, someone with good connections among local businesses may be put in charge of going out to solicit donations to use as raffle prizes and auction items.
In addition to having a stream of new volunteers getting involved in your organization, retaining volunteers is high on the wish lists of many non-profits.
Volunteers often fall into one of two categories:
One way to do that is to make sure your volunteers feel useful from the very start. Take the time to learn about their skills and how they can be useful from the very start. Giving volunteers a specific job based on their strengths early on can help them feel more engaged and useful in your organization. This makes them more likely to stick around because they feel like they are doing good and they’re not just an extra set of hands.
Another thing to consider is what you are doing to make your volunteers feel like part of a team. Look for ways to encourage your volunteers to build friendships, like small get-togethers outside of committee meetings.
Make sure you are communicating regularly with your volunteers, so they feel like they are in the loop. Reach out on a bi-weekly or weekly basis to keep them engaged, even if it is just to send them a summary of the meeting.
Lastly, recognize volunteers who are doing well. You want your volunteers to see that you appreciate their contribution. It also gives volunteers something to aspire to or stirs up some healthy competition amongst your volunteers.
Interpersonal Conflicts on Your Sub-Committees or Committees
It is important to accept that there will be a mix of personalities on your committees and sub-committees. An important part of being the chairperson or president is being able to manage different types of personalities and resolve any personality clashes that occur.
A key part of that is understanding that every volunteer brings value to your event. There will be a mixture of different skills and availabilities on your committee, so you need to be able to see the value that volunteers do bring rather than comparing different contributions.
You may have a volunteer who has obligations that don’t allow them to attend every meeting, but they have committed to attend the event, and they read the meeting summary emails to keep up to date. As a volunteer leader, you need to acknowledge that this volunteer is being realistic about what they can contribute and are not over-committing themselves. You know that you have their help for the event with this volunteer. As the volunteer leader, you may also need to anticipate any potential dust-ups that may happen in this scenario about volunteers not pulling their weight.
Mark West with HGAFundraising and Mike Wilson with Ducks Unlimited talk at length about forming event committees and engaging your volunteers for a successful event. Listen in to Episode 96 of our free webinar for non-profits to hear the full interview!
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