Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 16, 2018

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Fundraising Volunteers

Finding, Getting and Keeping Motivated Volunteers: A 10-Step Program
by the AFRDS

Volunteers. They're out there. And it's your job to recruit them and keep them happy and committed. In these times of dual-income and single-parent households, finding enthusiastic parent volunteers can be frustrating. But don't be discouraged. The following 10-step program may help in your search for living, breathing, inspired volunteers.

  1. Assign a volunteer sergeant. It takes one to know one. Identify the one person you count on most. This is your point person for building the volunteer force.

  2. Evaluate needs and plan an attack. Once you have a list of assignments, write a job description for each. Include: job responsibilities, volunteer qualifications, available job training and benefits (e.g. childcare, free transportation and parking)

  3. Identify the targets. Parents of kindergartners attending their first PTA meeting are new to the school; eager to help; and most likely to be around for a few years. You may want to offer extra incentives. One idea: start a volunteer "bank account" where hours accumulate toward tangible rewards such as free game tickets to the school carnival. Make a special plea to Dads who often want to be involved but may need extra urging. Grandparents, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and friends in the business and civic community are all volunteer material.

  4. Issue a personalized call to arms. Don't just rely on sign-up sheets and newsletter announcements to bring in volunteers. Call parents one-by-one. The art of volunteer recruiting is in personal selling. When making written appeals, list specific areas where you need people: concessions, classroom, media, office, fundraising, etc., and include estimates of how much time each task requires.

  5. Screen and train volunteers. Even hand-picked soldiers need to be briefed on their assignment. Ask what they personally want to get from their volunteer experience. Orient them to the school and provide an opportunity for them to ask you questions.

  6. Let volunteers do their job. Recognize that they may not be experts. Be patient and encourage them to work as a team.

  7. Check in with them. All volunteers need coaching, particularly those who are in it for the long haul. Revisit goals and job descriptions. Find out if the job has changed and if talents are being fully tapped.

  8. Handle problems quickly and diplomatically. Postponing action only reinforces inappropriate behavior which can lead to bigger, infectious morale problems among all volunteers.

  9. Celebrate victories. Say thanks. Report results. Recognize extra efforts. Whether it's a big party or a small tea, it matters only that your volunteers feel appreciated.

  10. Start early. Begin this year on finding and training next year's crop of volunteers. Ask this year's volunteers to write a job description for their replacement. Then ask them who they recommend for the job.

References: "Sowing the Seeds of Development: Recruiting Volunteers," presented by Al Lesch and Sue Smith in a workshop at the 1997 National Catholic Educational Association Annual Convention. "Revitalizing Long-Time Volunteers" by Susan Ellis, The Non-Profit Times June 1997. "Volunteers -- Getting Them and Keeping Them Motivated," excerpt from The Official Soccer Fundraiser's Guide by the Fund$Raiser Cyberzine July 1997 ( "The Volunteer Experience: Management the Keystone" by Anita L. Bradshaw, NCEA Momentum, October/November 1996. National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs, National PTA.


Editor's note: This article, "Finding, Getting and Keeping Motivated Volunteers" first appeared in the "Fundraising Edge", a publication of the AFRDS, and is reprinted with permission.

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