Finding Folks to Get Things Done

Our Volunteer Maryland Coordinator and VISTA programs have both been recruiting members as of late.  While each program is on a different timeline and place different responsibilities on both Volunteer Maryland and our partner sites, the mail goal is the same.  We have these projects at great nonprofits which have the potential to be meaningful and rewarding to the site, member and the community.  Our host site supervisors are working on training and orientation as well as how to integrate the member in with staff and what exactly they hope to achieve throughout the duration of the project. Volunteer Maryland is working on how to provide the best support to everyone involved throughout the year, and we’re all getting geared a one-year commitment to create sustainable programs and practices.  All in all, we’re asking a lot of those who will be joining us.  Their goal is to come in, create change, and effectively work themselves out of a job so their projects live on all in a year.  After extensive planning and negotiations on the part of Volunteer Maryland and our host sites, there’s one last monumental task.  We need to recruit someone up for the challenge.

Unlike many positions, we’re can’t effectively recruit based on pay or even long-term job security.  We need to find people adventurous enough to make some short-term sacrifices.  The benefits are plentiful; it’s hard to think of any other scenario where someone brand new to an organization can take on such a level of responsibility and create such an impact in a year.  The experiences, connections, learning opportunities and sheer ability to fully support a mission-based organization are, to me, absolutely invaluable.  Working with nonprofits and individuals so committed to bettering the world around them has quite literally changed my views on society as well as my future career path.  It’s a difficult decision to make though, and it’s not without unique stressors. So how do we find folks who will be devoted to each project and take it as an opportunity to expand their own professional development?

I think the only answer that rings true for each and every one of our projects is that you must recruit based on mission.  We’re not here for the pay check; we’re here because there’s a job that needs to get done and we want to be in the position to do it.  That’s an incredible thing, but can be a tough message to get out to people who may not be already looking into serving with AmeriCorps or working for a nonprofit organization.  Thankfully, though,  thousands or organizations have been recruiting AmeriCorps members for many years and there’s an expansive collective knowledge.

In my recent research, I’ve found this manual to be very helpful- it shows great samples of press releases and public service anouncements which makes the whole process seem much less intimidating. Encorps also has a great section on member recruitment which steps you from creating the plan through recruiting and interviewing and on to preparing for the member’s first day.  There are also plenty of career fairs, college employment offices and online volunteer recruitment and employment listing sites which can be of use.  And as much as we put time and effort into bringing new people to our organization, it’s often effective to use current networks.  Star volunteers may jump at the opportunity to be able to give back full-time, or your best friend looking for a career change might be a good candidate.

If you’ve successfully recruited AmeriCorps members and have any tips or are looking to recruit and have any questions, definitely let me know!

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