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Volunteer Coordination Tips
how to attract and retain volunteers, for events and other roles

Volunteering is all about (1) meeting new people; (2) learning new things; (3) doing things that hold meaning & purpose for that person; (4) feeling wanted, needed, and part of a team; (5) fun. Not necessarily in that order! Try to ensure volunteers are getting these things as much as possible. For each volunteer, try to figure out what his/her motives & desires are. Ask them why they want to help and what they are looking for in the experience.

If you are depending on a volunteer, be sure to let them know -- before hand! They may have no idea what effect it has when they leave you stranded. Explain the situation and how important they are. Explain that it really puts you in a fix if they don't show up, especially at the last moment ...and that you'd really appreciate them calling you in advance.

Offer a perk that only those who show up will get, e.g. a volunteer party at the end of the event or an invitation to a party or gathering the next week; or free membership or attendence at next event, trip or outing;

Whenever possible, correspond with individual volunteers by phone, not e-mail. E-mail is often missed or misunderstood. The interactive nature of a phone call allows you to "feel them out" and make sure you're on the same wavelength. Try to feel out their motives, goals, interests, level of commitment, limitations, etc. Be clear about your expectations and needs -- and give them the opportunity to accept or refuse.

Try to give people the opportunity and emotional space to back out as soon as they feel over-committed or disinterested. They might feel intimidated by your enthusiasm or leadership, leaving them no option but to back out in a passive way... e.g. not showing up.

Double book critical roles in case one doesn't show up (most volunteers will appreciate the extra company & support)

More articles and resources on volunteer management

Regarding getting volunteers (and others) to show up at meetings, these links on meeting & group process might also be of use (section C, community & group process).

Post a Volunteer Opportunity with GoodWork.ca and PlanetVolunteer.net



Provided by GoodWork Canada in partnership with the Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN)