Is your organisation thriving or does it merely exist due to lack of volunteer assistance? Your answer could lie in the way your organisation handles the all-important initial enquiry of potential volunteers.
I am currently a volunteer Recruitment Officer for the Lyell McEwin Regional Volunteers Association (LMRVA) based in South Australia. The decision to volunteer here was a very easy one for me. It all came down to first impressions and customer service.
When I decided to do some voluntary work I began to contact numerous, well-known organisations, including some who said they were "desperately seeking volunteers."
Sadly, I noticed a trend emerge:
• My initial enquiry was often greeted in a rude or abrupt manner;
• The receptionist / telephone operator was either not focussed on my call or not knowledgeable about their organisation;
• If I did succeed in being connected to a recruitment extension, my call was often met with voicemail, or just left to ring unanswered.
In nearly all cases, my phone calls were eventually returned - generally between a week and month later, which was much too late for me.
So why did I choose to volunteer with the LMRVA? Firstly, they had a web presence with just enough content to get me hooked. When I followed up with a phone call, a very cheerful and polite Scottish accent gave me all the relevant details about their next volunteer
information session. True to their word an informative brochure and covering letter appeared in the mail the next day.
Not only did this initial feedback give me the information I needed, it also confirmed my gut instinct that I wanted to volunteer here because they were taking my enquiry, and me, seriously.
I attended a well-organised Information Session with an exceptional PowerPoint presentation, where I filled in a quick questionnaire on why I wanted to volunteer and the area of particular interest to me.
A day or two later I was sitting in a Volunteer Program Manager's office being interviewed. The office was warm and inviting and so were the staff and volunteers alike - how could I refuse?
Customer service and first impressions go hand in hand. Just who in your organisation is going to be that first contact? Does the potential volunteer hear a friendly voice over the telephone, or see a warm and welcoming smile when they enter through your front door? Are your
volunteers and staff focussed on the task at hand and knowledgeable of your organisation's operation? And is a request for further information dealt with promptly?
With careful recruitment and some simple customer service training, your frontline staff have the potential to be a magnet! And by the way, when did you last telephone your own organisation and inquire about becoming a volunteer?
By Gillian Hughes.
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