Ideas Worth Sharing: Time Tested Strategies for Volunteer Recruitment and Retention
Is your committee roster looking a little thin? Need ideas on how to recruit new volunteers, and keep them enthused once they join your committee? If you answered yes, then read on…
Recruiting New Volunteers
Just ask! The most important first step in getting someone to join a committee is to just ask them. Make them feel welcomed and needed.
Identify potential committee members through work, family, social networks, RMEF events, clubs, etc. Remind them that they do not need to hunt elk to support the RMEF. They just need to be someone who wants to make a positive difference for wildlife.
Some of the best committee prospects are members who attend events. Convey the urgency behind RMEF's mission and ask them to join at a fundraiser. Then ask them again. And again.
Get them while the iron is hot. At the end of your event before you send people home, let your crowd know you will be gathering in the front of the room for a quick, 5-minute volunteer meeting, and invite anyone interested in becoming a volunteer to join you.
If anyone complains about your event, use it as an opportunity. Ask them to make things better by joining your committee.
Use your local membership lists (available from your regional director). Reach out to new RMEF members living in your area, as well as past attendees or members, and ask them to join your committee. Tell them where you need help. Offer to bring them to the meeting, or meet with them before a meeting.
Fill your committee needs with new local talent. If you need a finance chair, go to local banks and CPAs and let them know you are looking for someone with a financial background to help. You can do the same for your IT, event planning and marketing needs. The possibilities are endless.
Get creative about leadership positions. Committee members can come up with their own leadership role if they are very interested in a single aspect of your chapter. If they say they don't like to fundraise, sell tickets or ask for donations, maybe they can help with merchandise displays or set up at the banqet. They could also help get your committee up and running on Facebook or Twitter, stage an RMEF SAFE (Shooting Access for Everyone) program, or staff an RMEF booth at a sports show, etc.
Retaining new volunteers
Be inclusive. Make new volunteers feel appreciated, warm and welcome. Any and every role a volunteer plays is vital.
Assign mentors: Give new volunteers a mentor from your committee. Assign someone who can offer to meet them before that first meeting, and someone who can be their go-to person for questions and concerns.
Slow things down for them. Remember, new volunteers don't understand how your meetings are run or RMEF volunteer jargon. Take the time to explain your chapter's idiosyncrasies so they don't feel like they've entered a foreign land.
Engage new volunteers immediately. Identify their talents, likes, strengths and hobbies, and then adapt those things to help grow or improve your committee. Ask them to do a job and give them some flexibility to make it their own.
People's time is valuable, so run effective meetings. Plan carefully, be organized and communicate! You can still have fun, but be sure to start on time and stick to business. Remember, long, unorganized and poorly run meetings can burn anyone out quickly.
Set meeting dates well in advance. If possible, keep the same meeting times, dates and locations.
Provide brief agendas prior to meetings. Make your priorities clear and set time limits for each topic. Ask committee members who may not be able to attend to share their thoughts and ideas beforehand so that can be incorporated into meeting discussions. Send out minutes after a meeting to update team members who missed it and keep everyone on the same page.
Get them a hat and pin. Recognize new volunteers at your event by promptly presenting them with their new committee hat and pin.
Host off-season committee gatherings. Have a get-together, but don't talk RMEF. Just have fun and enjoy each other's company.
Say thank you and recognize all volunteers at your event. Award them with their committee service pins when volunteers achieve 5, 10, 15 or 20 years of service. These small gestures can make a huge difference in keeping folks feeling appreciated and energized.