I called a volunteer yesterday. After saying where I was calling from, she said, “Oh, I already sent in my money.” I wasn’t calling about that of course, I was calling to ask her to volunteer. Totally different department.
Yet in some ways, I feel like asking people to volunteer is more demanding than asking for their money. You are basically asking them to reprioritize their time and help your organization out. It’s thoughts like these that make me feel I am worse than a telemarketer.
So how do we counteract that impersonal, organizational feeling when we call people? How can they feel like their volunteering for more than a non-profit organization, but for people, a cause, etc.?
There is nothing more powerful than building relationships when creating a team of volunteers. While it’s not a transaction, it is logical to assume that if you want them to care about your organization, your organization better care about them. Designating one person to build relationships with volunteers is a way to personalize the volunteer experience and helps customize your volunteer program to each individual.
Take time to find out about your volunteers and their habits, likes/dislikes, and activities. You may be able to focus their volunteer time more effectively once you find out how much they enjoy people or hate clerical work. It also helps to find out about specific preferences.
For example, if you know one volunteer doesn’t like driving in snow, check the forecast before you call, have a sub lined up, and give him/her an easy out if the weather gets bad. Also, if a volunteer has a sick spouse, call to check up on the situation, don’t let them think they are forgotten if they no longer can volunteer.
You can only find these things out if you invest the time in relationships. This investment will prevent you from viewing volunteers as fuel to keep your non-profit “machine” going. They are an integral part of the whole, but have individual worth that you must value. Any time spent building up the value of relationships will make your volunteer program stronger and more satisfying for all parties involved.