Lately I’ve noticed the importance of timing when it comes to recruiting volunteers. Of course volunteers give time when it’s available but with our busy and changing lives that is often an elusive commodity.
If you can get a commitment of a specific time slot, volunteering becomes part of the routine, something that both parties expect. But the looser the terms, the more difficult it is to engage a volunteer. The cost or overhead of finding the right opportunities and the energy it takes to get calendars aligned might outweigh the benefit.
Get them early
The other aspect I’ve noticed is that when someone is just getting into volunteering it’s relatively easy to get them involved. They are open and actively looking to get engaged. Some may spend more time in the discovery phase than others, but time for volunteering has been set aside and they are looking to fill it.
The ramp up takes a while and so there is a defined period of time where the volunteer has to find any opportunity and then the right kind of engagement. But as soon as they start saying “yes” and the wave of options starts to flow in, it’s harder to get their commitment as you are now competing for a share of that precious allotment of time.
Change is good
Another window of opportunity to engage volunteers is when they’ve decided to switch their focus. This could be marked by an end of term among many other reasons. The window is usually short especially for exceptional volunteers as they have a reputation and are sought out, but if you watch for this availability you might get a great team member.