|Summary: Help your components recruit and retain volunteers by encouraging them to promote the personal and professional benefits of association involvement. Include a list of the potential professional skill sets that can be developed through their volunteer experience.|
Identifying, motivating, and retaining high-quality volunteer leaders is critical for any component. But how do you recruit and engage volunteers, especially when there is an overall decrease in the number of individuals willing to volunteer—and for those who do volunteer, fewer hours to give?
What's in it for them? According to the findings in ASAE & The Center's recent Decision to Volunteer research, two-thirds of respondents indicated that when seeking volunteer opportunities, they look for volunteer roles that connect volunteering to their professional work. Let's take that a step further.
Potential volunteers want to know, "What's in it for me?" In response, many components focus solely on the personal aspects of volunteerism, such as the benefits to the local community, the recognition received as a volunteer, and the opportunity to "give back" to others in the profession. But do your components effectively communicate the potential professional benefits to be gained from volunteerism?
Promote Personal and Professional Development
To more effectively engage volunteers, particularly in today's challenging economic climate, volunteer leadership opportunities must be promoted as an investment that includes both personal and professional benefits. When communicating with and recruiting prospects, be sure to include a list of the potential professional skill sets that can be developed or enhanced through their volunteer experience. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Enhanced speaking and communication skills;
- Development of effective leadership skills such as credibility, consensus building, and the art of persuasion;
- The ability to practice newly acquired skills in a safe environment prior to utilization on the job.
As volunteer leaders develop and enhance these skills, they will be transferred to their job, providing a new sense of professionalism and confidence. In addition to adding value to their current employer, volunteers also become more marketable to potential employers, many of whom recognize the valuable experience that volunteer leadership provides.
So the next time you're working with your components on volunteer recruitment, encourage them to promote the benefits of volunteerism from both perspectives—by including the professional benefits in their strategy as well.
Susan Post, SPHR, CAE, is director, Eastern Region, for the Society for Human Resource Management, Alexandria, Virginia, and is chair of ASAE & The Center's Component Relations Section Council. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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