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Life of a Salesperson – The Volunteer Manager

Garrett Zaffke

Have you ever thought of yourself as a salesperson? But wait you might think, I don’t make sales! Or do you? One of the many facets of our job is to convince people to support an organization or group with little to no compensation for the work that they do. We sell individuals the idea of volunteering.

So how do we “sell” volunteering to people? First off, the best thing you can do for yourself in recruiting is to create a position description template that will guide you through what you want the potential volunteer to know on the front end (location, time, requirements, trainings, qualifications, age range, etc.). Leave no surprises, cover everything you can so that your potential volunteer can self-select themselves in or out and save you time.

The worst thing you can do for yourself though is to use a position description as a cookie cutter. You need to know your audience so that you can better recruit what you are trying to sell. What types of volunteers do you need: age group, skill set, travel range, etc.? Once you know who you are trying to reach you can then custom tailor your position descriptions to make sure you get the right match for each position.

Finally, make sure to cast a wide net. There a plenty of vehicles to share your message with the public (and most are free!). Websites, word of mouth, social media, brochures, newspapers, video, email, posters, and recruitment fairs all have their strengths and weaknesses so it is best to spread your recruitment strategies out to make sure that you cover a fair amount of ground. Don’t put all your effort in only one vehicle. Also keep in mind that certain recruitment types attract certain volunteers. Use these to your advantage.

My favorite and easiest recruitment outlet would be using online search sites like Volunteermatch.org and using my organization’s webpage to post upcoming opportunities. A recent article posted by Volunteermatch.org has been very helpful for me when posting things online recently. According to the study, the best time of day to send out material or make it live online is between 11 A.M. and 2 P.M., when daily online traffic peaks. The best days of the week tend to be either Monday or Tuesday. The worst time/day to post anything online is after 10 P.M. and Saturday. To read more about this study, go to www.volunteermatch.org.

Communication needs to be crafted to specifically fit your needs. You cannot sell your message the same way I sell mine. But we can all use tips and tricks of the trade to make our lives easier. Find what works for you and cast a wide net. The more you are comfortable with selling your organization, the better you will get and the better your results will be.