Most Associations do a big “call for volunteers” because not only do we want to recruit volunteers to fill all of our positions, we also want to make sure that we’re asking everyone to get involved. We don’t want to leave anyone out and while that’s admirable (and probably not even a bad idea), it doesn’t necessarily get us the results we’re looking for.
The “one-on-one ask” can be more effective but the challenge is figuring out how to make that ask. How do we identify who we’d like to recruit? How do we figure out what we’d like to ask them to do? And how do we avoid leaving people out?
Instead of doing a traditional call for volunteers, try doing a member interest survey. Even better, do it in conjunction with your new member on-boarding process to get a better response rate. Newer members might be intimidated with getting involved right away. Instead of asking them directly what they’d like to volunteer for, ask them about their:
- Skills and talents
- What aspects of the Association they plan on taking advantage of
Whatever you ask them about, have a plan for how you’re going to use that information. Or, coming from the other direction, if you need members to do “X” what question can you ask that would help you identify who would be interested?.
Doing this with new members works really well because they have to be interested in something since they made the decision to join, so the response rate for surveys should be better than normal. That certainly doesn’t mean we can’t (or shouldn’t) do this with the entire membership and we’ll likely still get a better response rate than our traditional call for volunteers. It’s very different to ask someone what they’re interested in than it is to ask them for a volunteer commitment. Find out what they’re interested in first and then ask them to help out as a volunteer.
Another advantage of the one-on-one ask is that it gives us a great opportunity to let them know why volunteering will be mutually beneficial. When we’re asking them if they’d be interested, we can also let them know what impact they will have on the Association. We can let them know what they can expect out of their experience. Call for Volunteer forms don’t do a great job of this. We can try to have committee charges and other volunteer duties in writing to detail what the committee will do and what you’ll get out of it, but it’s not the same as being able to directly tell someone the impact they will have and what they can expect to get out of it.
Adding personal, individual, requests to volunteer to your volunteer program is key when it comes to learning more about your members.