Volunteers

By Scott, Jonathan T. | Parks & Recreation, November 1996 | Go to article overview

Volunteers


Scott, Jonathan T., Parks & Recreation


Volunteers play an integral role in many areas of the leisure service profession by providing both labor and experience, a substantial economic benefit. With today's shrinking budgets and subsidies, the careful cultivation of a volunteer workforce is crucial. For many of us, planned projects or events could not be executed without the work, knowledge and time donated by volunteers.

By using the full potential of a volunteer workforce, you can expand your services; bring about closer ties with your community; increase your organization's opportunities; and provide an enormous amount of manpower. However, acquiring and using volunteers takes solid organization and planning. Remember that volunteers give their time and talents by choice. The trick is to make them chose your organization as the recipient.

In order to attract volunteers, you must plan appropriately This allows you to determine essential volunteer information such as: what type of volunteers you need, how many you need, how long you will need them, where they will be placed, and the exact duties that you will need to assign them. Plan on taking a substantial amount of time to coordinate volunteer hours and train them properly.

Organizations that use volunteer labor can be held responsible not only for their volunteers' actions, but also any injuries suffered by these volunteers. Once you get a clear picture of what your volunteers will be doing, you can begin recruiting them, defining the exact roles they will play and creating needed protective measures.

Acquiring Volunteers Asking someone for help is often viewed as a compliment It is flattering to be told that your abilities are in demand. Most people enjoy helping, particularly when they know that their labor and knowledge are genuinely needed and will be used effectively to complete an important project How you propose to retain your volunteer workforce helps in its acquisition. If you require expertise in a certain area, begin your search at the places where this expertise can be found. A more general search can be utilized with broader strokes:

Advertising

Whether by word-of-mouth or in print, advertising is about the only way to convey the need for volunteers. Stick to the locations where you want to target your volunteer workforce considering the following demographic markers: education, sex, maturity, and skills experience etc.

Meetings (employee groups, committees, community groups, clubs...) Notice Boards (at work, post offices, places of worship, community halls, markets, schools...)

Newspapers/Magazines (newsletters, trade journals, booklets, pamphlets, circulars...)

Television/Radio (Stations often make public service announcements or announce community events and projects. Be sure to provide a professional plan of your project and your volunteer specifications.)

Religious groups al:very Church, Mosque or Synagogue contains groups (Every Church, Mosque or Synagogue contains those who are seeking to fulfill a need for becoming involved in some type of community work.)

Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts (Children may not have much experience but, there is plenty they can do.)

Clubs/Organizations (Search the phone book for specific groups. Quite often they are looking for activities to become involved with or ways to help which utilize their areas of expertise.) Schools/Colleges/Universities (Contact lecturers, teachers or campus groups to help spread the word. Remind them that volunteering and subsequent experience gained will enhance any c.v.) Individuals Friends, relatives and employees (But remember, you probably want to keep them as such.) Parents/ Children (One usually involves the other.) Ask around for those who might be interested, including those who have taken part before. Convincg People to Volunteer Do not forget to fully discuss why you need volunteers and what you hope to accomplish. You may even be able to turn your request into their idea. …

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