When people begin volunteering with an organisation they will be wary of writing a blank cheque with their time. They want to see what it will be like to volunteer with the organisation, how well it will look after them and whether volunteering is fun and enjoyable. Once familiar and committed to volunteering, there may be some who could do a little more for you, yet how often do we ask existing volunteers what more they could do? There is, I believe, a vast untapped 'gift of time' sitting within our existing volunteer programmes.
One way we can tap this - and also thank and recognise our volunteers - is through Aren't Volunteers Brilliant Events. It doesn't really matter what the event is as long as it is something that will appeal to a wide range of your volunteers.
These events are a thank you for your volunteers - but with a twist. Structure the day in such a way that a volunteer undertaking a particular role for which you need more help has five minutes to share their volunteering experience with the group. You can brief the volunteer on the type of things they might like to cover:
• How they got involved?
• What it involves?
• What they get out of it?
• Why they enjoy it?
• What difference it makes to your organisation?
• How other people can get involved?
You could get several volunteers to do this throughout the day if you have a number of areas requiring additional support.
You'll be surprised what happens. In many instances, volunteers involved in one type of activity will decide they can find a little more spare time and quite fancy getting involved in the volunteering role that they have just heard spoken about. How great is that, volunteers recruiting each other to volunteer for you - what could be better and easier?
If you do decide to run an Aren't Volunteers Brilliant Event here are a few top tips:
• Run the event three or four times on different days and at different times to attract as wide a variety of your volunteers as possible.
• Invite all your volunteers to all the events and let them choose which one they want to attend.
• Include in the invitation a flyer advertising the activities you need more volunteers for.
• Allow plenty of time for volunteers to chat to one another and share their volunteering experience - providing food and refreshments is a great way of doing this.
• Draw up role cards for each of the activities you need volunteers for. Use the following headings, and put each role card up on a display that volunteers can look at throughout the day:
i. Role Title
ii. When is it?
iii. Where is it?
iv. What commitment is required?
v. Why we want you
vi. What's in it for you?
vii. What skills you need to have?
viii. Who to contact to find out more?
• Make sure you capture the names and addresses of people who are interested in other volunteer roles and follow these up promptly.
By Alan Murray.
Reprinted from Turn Your Organisation Into A Volunteer Magnet, 2nd edition (ed. Fryar, Jackson & Dyer) 2007
For the complete copy of Turn Your Organisation Into A Volunteer Magnet go to