How to Recruit Skilled Volunteers in 10 Simple Steps

Skilled volunteers are certainly a benefit to organizations, and there are new resources to prove it.  Volunteer Match just announced a new feature on their volunteer website, the Listing Wizard.  It allows you to choose the specific skills you need for each volunteer position you post.  And, the professional networking website LinkedIn just added a “Volunteer Experience & Causes” section that allows people to list the charities and causes they support in their skills and experience profile.

Is your program ready to take advantage of the wealth of talent in your community?  If you don’t have enough skilled volunteers yet or are having a hard time figuring out how volunteers can really help, it may be time to take another look at your team structure.

Know What You’re Missing

Don’t leave it all up to chance.  Understanding your program’s specific needs, and then analyzing the volunteer skills required to meet those needs, will help you better connect with the right people to support your program.  And then, forming teams who work together toward common goals, will help your program make the most of what your supporters have to offer.

Below is a simple process you can use to to do just that.  Ask your volunteers and staff to help you work through this process.  All that’s required is pens, post-its, a blank wall, and some thoughtful people.

Volunteer “Helpforce” Needs Analysis: 10 Steps

Step 1 — Brainstorm all of the tasks that need to be completed at the program.  Do not separate out paid and volunteer duties yet.
Step 2 — Write one task per post-it, and try to be as exhaustive as possible.  Don’t yet decide who will be responsible for each task. Put them all up on the wall.
Step 3 — Identify which tasks can only be done by paid staff.  Be open-minded — there are probably very few tasks that absolutely must be done by paid staff.
Step 4 — Remove paid staff responsibilities from the larger group, and cluster them together.
Step 5 — Then, cluster the remaining tasks into groups of similar duties that make sense together.  These are your teams.
Step 6 — Name them, and type up a team description with a bullet list of tasks, transcribed from the post-its.
 Step 7 — Identify which paid staff will support which team.  Consider how you will use paid staff to fill in when there are volunteer vacancies or absences, or when there are a higher than normal service volumes.
Step 8 — Create one-page volunteer position descriptions for the jobs that would be needed to perform each team’s tasks.  In them, describe the “must-have” and “need to have” skill sets needed for each job.
Step 9 — Prioritize which positions need to be filled first.  You can’t recruit them all at once, so pick the ones that will have the most impact with the least training investment at the outset.
Step 10 — Finally, recruit for those positions; be clear about what skills are necessary for each job.