Finding Good Help (That Doesn’t Necessarily Hunt)
Recruiting volunteers is an investment that pays exponentially. Go about it creatively
First, make a list of your friends and contacts
By Carl Mowry, Regional Director, Western Pennsylvania
You don’t have to be good at math to know how important it is to recruit new volunteers, but it helps. Why? It’s an equation that multiplies exponentially—the amount of time you spend finding them will equate to a return much more than you could ever imagine.
Volunteer recruitment is one of the toughest challenges RMEF faces, and it’s also one that will predict the organization’s future success. We are always on the lookout for the highest-caliber volunteers.
But how do we find people to join the RMEF who will be inspired to work toward our mission? Sometimes that’s the part that takes a little vision.
A person doesn’t have to be a hunter or outdoors nut to volunteer with RMEF. In some places, the hunting community is shrinking as hunters get older and stop heading afield. But some of these guys and gals can be the best volunteers. They support RMEF’s cause and have the time to volunteer. We might all know someone who falls into this category, but sometimes we forget about asking them to volunteer.
Another group to ask is the siblings or younger adult children of past and present volunteers. Many of these people grew up helping their parents in our ranks years ago, which helped them understand our mission. Many times, they will rejoin the RMEF team as an adult, if simply asked to.
One commonly heard reason people don’t volunteer is because “no one ever asked them.” Chapter members may assume there’s no one else out there who wants to help, but you’ll never know until you ask.
Chapters also need volunteers of all ages. Our committee is always looking for computer literate volunteers, but don’t count out those who don’t use or have one. These volunteers sometimes can be the best ticket sellers for the chapter as they are used to talking to people face-to-face and are good at bringing in donations.
Next, look to those already attending your events
Who is really engaged in the raffles, auctions and shows interest in being there? There’s always someone in the room who stands out from the crowd, someone we can ask to attend a local meeting or get-together after the banquet. Invite them to attend the wrap-up meeting to learn about the banquet and how one chapter helps the mission across the country and in the state.
Have a fun, informal get-together with pizza and beer for new and old volunteers, talk about hunting, shooting or things they have done in the last few months. Let the discussion eventually lead to what the RMEF has done locally and across the country, then talk about your plans for the upcoming banquet and ways to improve income and make it even more fun for attendees.
Make sure new volunteers get involved
One mistake we often make is not letting new volunteers do something meaningful for the chapter. If they are willing to give up part of their free time to volunteer for you, it’s up to you to make sure they feel wanted.
Teach them the RMEF mission and why we do what we do. Ask them what they would like to help with, then ask if they want to learn how to help in another area, too. Give them a choice and a chance to step up and help out.
A committee needs all types of volunteers. Not everyone can sell tickets or speak in front a crowd, but they might be good at getting donations or setting up tables and raffle items. We need all kinds of skills. Having a variety of people makes everything flow during an event—from set-up to tear-down.
Make mentors a part of the experience
Sometimes there’s no better way to catch on to a new job than by learning from a pro as you go. A volunteer willing to be a mentor to new committee members is essential. Conversely, someone who only tells a new person what to do can be a good way to turn off a volunteer from getting involved at all.
Remember, in the end, it’s all part of the volunteer equation. The larger your committee, the bigger your chapter’s big game banquet will be. The more volunteers you find to help, the more friends and contacts you’ll have on the invitation list. The more invites that go out, the better the odds that your event will grow and, in turn, that your chapter will be successful for years to come.