Matchmaker, Make Me a Volunteer Match!

The most common question always asked while recruiting volunteers is “what type of volunteer work do you have?” The answer to this question in my opinion can be complicated. In early June I attended the National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Atlanta, Georgia. I kicked off the conference with my first session on strategic volunteer engagement. This session gave listeners the chance to connect with like minded professionals looking to learn more about strategies and models to break the boundaries of successfully engaging and recruiting interested volunteers.
During this 60 minute interactive discussion we explored the topic of matching the right volunteer to the right position. Matching volunteers is not just about having a potential volunteer pick a volunteer position from a list. It is about exploring and match making. To emphasize the importance of listening during the all important matching process, our facilitator asked the group to partner and take turns talking about a time when we felt most proud, for three minutes. Our partner was to solely listen only speaking words expressing enthusiasm like; wow, amazing, and great. Needless to say there were many a pair who found it very difficult to speak and have someone just listen for three uninterrupted minutes.
When we think about recruitment we instantly start out describing our needs for the positions we are looking to fill. Volunteers need to know why it is important for them to volunteer, and feel the connection to the cause. There are two driving factors in volunteer recruitment; the needs of the organization and the needs of the volunteers. A volunteer coordinator needs to pay attention to both in order to make a strong match. Being direct in our questions, and giving the potential volunteer time to discuss what they are looking for in a volunteer opportunity. For example CASA of Prince George’s County volunteers advocate for the rights of children in foster care. This requires Volunteer Maryland Coordinator Simon Lee to pay close attention to the needs of individuals looking to volunteers to insure positive volunteer engagement and retention. As a child advocate, it is crucial that each volunteer is made aware of the sensitivity of each CASA case, the organization’s mission in regards to permanency and or reunification of the appointed foster care child, and their specific role. During the interview and training phase, each potential volunteer is able to discuss their needs with a CASA supervisor. This information becomes very beneficial to the matching process of a child advocate. For example CASA may find a volunteer who works best with children ten years and younger. To make the volunteer experience impactful and beneficial to both the volunteer and the child, CASA supervisors take this information into account for best outcomes of the relationship.
Furthermore, I found this experience enlightening giving listeners a greater understanding of the importance and impact actively listening to the needs of volunteers has on effectively matching volunteers to meaningful service. In the end this will provide opportunities that lead to rewarding service experiences, keeping volunteers engaged, coming back to serve again and again.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s