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Recruiting vs. Marketing ….

The first step to recruiting is to understand the difference between recruiting and marketing. Announcements are marketing. Most organizations make the mistake of thinking that mere announcements will get volunteers. Announcements are important but an announcement is not recruiting.

Here is a workable definition of marketing:
Marketing is anything that puts your organization in front of someone who is a possible volunteer.

Recruiting starts with marketing, or format-announcements. Understanding the purpose of marketing frees you to be creative, and it recognizes that any contact you have with members of prospective volunteers is marketing. Announcements are marketing. Volunteer fliers are marketing. Special presentations are marketing. Fancy brochures, ad campaigns and even websites are marketing. But all of these marketing tools only act as an adjunct and a support to effective recruiting. Marketing is not recruiting.

Marketing provides the opportunity to get in front of prospective volunteers, but recruiting is the manner in which you determine which of them will become your volunteers. In a sense, marketing is the strategy that will bring you the opportunity to expand your volunteer base, and recruiting is the tactic that-employed properly-will actually grows your volunteer base.

  • We know organizations sign up hundreds of people knowing that about 80% of them will work for a month and quit. They count on the 20% that stick.
  • We are not looking for bodies. We are looking for people who really want to make a difference by using their gifts and abilities.

If this is what recruiting is not, then what is recruiting?

Recruiting is like starting a relationship …How does the process work?

Acquaintance Event: Ask a potential volunteer to help at an event to give them a taste of your program. Hopefully, this will give the potential volunteer a chance to see your program in action. This kind of event will present what you do far better than any brochure.

Building the Connection: The goal is to get them to volunteer more than once or twice. If you have someone who can spend time with the new volunteer even if it is only for 1 event, try to learn things about the new volunteer so that you can know how they can help you…

Making a Commitment: The purpose of the 3rd meeting is to present your work. We do a lot of listening, but also talk about our needs and how the volunteer might be part of our team. We ask for feedback-how they think that they might help. What are their strengths, talents and experience that might help them. What is their experience? What is their passion?

Although the content of the meeting is important, the actual purpose of the meeting is to get future dates. You ask them, "Is this something that you would be interested in?" When the person responds yes to that question, they have given you permission to ask for the future dates. Be very specific. You take the information that the person gave to you in the first dates and design a job description for the person.

Long term goals: After they volunteer for a few times, the goal is to ask them if they would make the commitment to be a part of your team. Meeting with each volunteer multiple times to recruit them… It can sound overwhelming; however, when you look at the time you waste training and retraining the high percentage of volunteers who are quitting, you are way ahead by using this method.

Bottom line-Recruiting is asking ….
Technically, recruiting is what we do once we are in front of a prospective volunteer. Marketing (an announcement) gets us there; recruiting is our behavior once we're there. Recruiting is a conversation very similar to other conversations you have during the day. The only difference is that instead of chatting about sports or news or relationships, it is about the possibility of discovering and using the gifts people can offer.

Please contact me if you have any questions or would like help developing a Marketing and Recruiting plan for your program.

Carolyn Kushner,

Coordinator of Volunteer Service

800 235 9058, X217

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