How to Find Volunteers to Work for Your School or Organization
Getting people to commit to anything in today’s busy world can feel nearly impossible – especially in the world of fundraising. But there are tactics you can use to attract and retain reliable volunteers for your concession stand – it just takes a little strategy!
1. Start with the best equipment and products. If you have confidence in what you’re working with, others will too. If your people know they can show up and have everything they need to do their job well, they’re much more likely to stick around. Reliable concession equipment, delicious food, and a streamlined ordering and inventory system make for a positive experience for volunteers. Hint: choose a partner, not a vendor, for your concession supplies.
2. Ask in person and try to target individual strengths. Sending emails or passing out flyers is fine, but people are less likely to turn you down if you make a request in person. Before asking, do a little background research and determine each person’s skillset. Someone who has worked retail in the past may be more comfortable running a cash register. People who have managed others in a professional capacity may be more at ease organizing larger events. Mention which strengths of theirs will be especially useful for their job at the fundraiser.
3. Approach those who you know care about the organization. People who have more at stake in the fundraiser will be more likely to help out. For schools, parents whose kids are involved in sports or band are the first group to start with. But also look into alumni groups – older folks who are still active in supporting the school and who may have extra time to donate can be great resources. Other civic groups in your town may also be primed for volunteering, so don’t forget to check groups that already exist.
4. Emphasize the message of what volunteers will gain from the experience. Volunteer recruitment often involves a lot of talk about what the school or organization needs. Try to pitch the volunteer job as beneficial on both sides. You should of course be honest about what you need and why it will help your school or organization, but also disclose what the volunteers will get out of it. What are the perks of the job? How will it be personally rewarding to them? (If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to include volunteer recognition in this year’s plan.)
5. Be prepared to answer common questions and provide plenty of training. People are often nervous when trying new things, and they want to be reassured. If you’re knowledgeable and confident in responding to their questions and concerns, you’ll put them more at ease. And be sure, once they have agreed to volunteer, to have a detailed training program to get them up to speed. People who don’t know what’s expected of them will be unhappy and will warn other potential volunteers away from the job. Make sure your crew is comfortable with their duties.
6. Don’t exhaust people by asking too much. It can be tempting to go to the same small group of people who show up for every PTO meeting and every bake sale to ask for help. And it isn’t a bad thing to try. But your tried-and-true folks get tired too. If someone thinks she has to do everything, she’s at risk for burnout. You want your volunteers to enjoy doing what they do and not be weighed down by obligations. Spread your search net wide so that no one feels burdened.
7. Create evangelists for your organization. If you can make volunteering for your organization so fun and rewarding that people are happy to do it and to talk to others about what they do, you’ve hit the volunteer goldmine. When your volunteers are spreading the word about what a great place it is to work, that makes recruiting easier for you and creates a win-win situation for everyone. So focus on improving the situation for your current group of helpers.