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Tool 1: Tips for Recruiting, Retaining, and Recognizing Volunteers

Research sources of potential volunteers in your community

Don't forget schools, churches, neighborhood groups, businesses, service organizations and clubs, youth groups, senior groups, media and grassroots groups.

Define target groups to recruit

Ask current members why they volunteered, what continues to motivate them, and how they were recruited as you begin to map out your recruitment strategy.

Get your message out there

Never underestimate the power of simply letting people know that you need their help. Try holding an annual appeal for volunteers, set up booths at local fairs, write letters to the editor, and ask current volunteers to make an appeal on your behalf to local civic clubs. Also consider posting notices at all the places community members regularly visit (grocery stores, post offices, the public library, etc.).

Encourage diversity

Remember that promoting diversity within your organization will broaden the range of opinions and ideas to which your organization has access. Try highlighting the achievements of volunteers from different cultural groups in your local newspaper, offer families opportunities to volunteer together, and actively recruit a diverse paid staff.

Welcome volunteers into your organization

Taking time up-front to make sure that volunteers feel genuinely welcome is the first step toward keeping them involved. Try pairing volunteers with paid staff. Encourage paid staff to take the time to answer volunteers' questions and get to know the person.

Challenge volunteers

Brainstorm about the possible tasks volunteers could perform within your organization. Listen to volunteers' interests and assess their abilities. Then provide volunteers with opportunities that meet them where they are. Volunteers who feel successful and have an opportunity to stretch their abilities are more likely to hang around and to serve the organization well. With this approach, everybody wins!

Appreciate and respect volunteers

Remember that volunteers are giving generously of their most precious resource-their time. Communicate your appreciation and respect by inviting volunteers to be part of the decision-making process when appropriate and honoring the constraints on their time.


Make sure that your organization recognizes the invaluable work of volunteers by acknowledging the important contributions they make. Try an annual awards luncheon, feature volunteers in your organization's newsletter, or partner with the media to highlight the work of local community members in the newspaper on or television.

Tool 2: Volunteer application form


Building Safer Neighborhoods: A Cooperative Response

"Offer To Help"

Name: ____________________________________________________________


Address: __________________________________________________________


Phone Number -Home: _____________________Work: ____________________

I would like to continue to be involved in the issue(s) of:

( ) Violence in the Community

( ) Violence in the Schools

( ) Violence in the Family

( ) I would like to be involved in my neighborhood


-Thank You-

Tool 3: 101 ways to give recognition to volunteers

by Vern Lake, Minnesota Department of Public Welfare

Smile • Put up a volunteer suggestion box • Treat to a soda • Reimburse assignment related expenses • Ask for a report • Send a birthday card • Arrange for discounts • Give service stripes • Maintain a coffee bar • Plan annual ceremonial occasions • Invite to a staff meeting • Recognize personal needs and problems • Accommodate personal needs and problems • Be pleasant • Be of use in an emergency situation • Provide a baby-sitter • Post an Honor Roll in the reception area • Respect their wishes • Give informal teas • Keep challenging them • Send a Thanksgiving card to the volunteer's family • Provide a nursery • Say "Good morning" • Greet by name • Provide good pre-service training • Help develop self-confidence • Award plaques to sponsoring groups • Take time to explain • Be verbal • Motivate agency VIPs to converse with them • Hold rap sessions • Give additional responsibility • Afford participation in team planning • Respect sensitivities • Enable to grow on the job • Send newsworthy information to the media • Have wine and cheese tasting parties • Ask client-patient to evaluate their work-service • Say "Good afternoon" • Create pleasant surroundings • Welcome to staff coffee breaks • Enlist to train other volunteers • Have a public reception • Take time to talk • Defend against hostile or negative staff • Make good plans • Commend to supervisory staff • Send a valentine • Make thorough pre-arrangements • Persuade "personnel" to equate volunteer experience with work experience • Admit to partnership with paid staff • Recommend to prospective employer • Provide scholarships to volunteer conferences or workshops • Offer advocacy roles • Utilize them as consultants • Write them thank you notes • Invite participation in policy formation • Surprise with coffee and cake • Celebrate outstanding projects and achievements • Nominate for volunteer awards • Have a "Presidents Day" for new presidents of sponsoring groups • Carefully match volunteer with job • Praise them to their friends • Provide substantive in-service training • Provide useful tools in good working conditions • Say "Good night" • Plan staff and volunteer social events • Be a real person • Rent billboard space for public laudation • Accept their individuality • Identify age groups • Provide opportunities for conference and evaluation • Maintain meaningful life • Send impromptu fun cards • Plan occasional extravaganzas • Instigate client-planned surprises • Utilize purchased newspaper space • Promote a "Volunteer of the Month" program • Send a letter of appreciation to employer • Plan a recognition edition of the agency newsletter • Color code name tags to indicate particular achievements (hours, years, unit, etc.) • Send commendatory letters to prominent public figures • Say "We missed you" • Praise the sponsoring group or club • Promote staff smiles • Facilitate personal maturation • Distinguish between group and individuals in the group • Maintain safe working conditions • Adequately orientate • Award special citations for extraordinary achievements • Fully indoctrinate regarding the agency • Send Christmas cards • Be familiar with details of assignments • Conduct community-wide cooperative, interagency recognition events • Plan a theater party • Attend sports events • Have a picnic • Say "Thank you" • Smile

Tool 4: If you want my loyalty, interest, and best efforts, remember that:

By President J. Donald Philip, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan

  • I need sense of belonging, a feeling that I?m honestly needed for my total self, not just for my hands, not because I take orders well.
  • I need to have some sense of sharing in planning our objectives. My need will be satisfied only when I feel that my ideas have had a fair hearing.
  • I need to feel that the goals and objectives are within reach, and that they make sense to me.
  • I need to feel that what I'm doing has real purpose or contributes to human welfare; that its values extends even beyond my personal gain, or hours.
  • I need to share in making the rules by which, together, we shall live and work toward our goals.
  • I need to know in some clear detail just what is expected of me: not only my detailed task, but where I have the opportunity to make personal and final decisions.
  • I need to have some responsibilities that challenge, that are within the range of my abilities and interest, and that contribute toward reaching my assigned goal, and that cover all goals.
  • I need to see that progress is being made toward the goals we have set.
  • I need to be kept informed. What I'm not up on, I may be down on. (Keeping me informed is one way to give me status as an individual.)
  • I need to have confidence in my superiors, confidence based upon assurance of consistent fair treatment, on recognition when it is due, and trust that loyalty will bring increased security.
  • In brief, it really doesn't matter how much sense my part in this organization makes to you. I must feel that the whole deal makes sense to me. I would add, hopefully, the whole deal makes sense to everyone involved: the client, staff, volunteer and you.