Problems Recruiting Volunteers


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Presented at the 2010 Annual Conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action.

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Problems Recruiting Volunteers

  1. 1. Problems Recruiting Volunteers: Nature versus Nurture Mark Hager Arizona State University Jeff Brudney Cleveland State University ARNOVA 2010
  2. 2. U.S. Volunteer Management Capacity Study, 2003 • Sample of 2,993 Form 990 filers. • Telephone interview with representatives from 1,753 organizations. • Focus on 1,361 who work with volunteers. • Interviews average 20 minutes; questions on broad variety of organizational characteristics. • Weight adjustments by size and whether we could reach them in a pre-call.
  3. 3. Recruitment Problems • 24% report big problems recruiting enough volunteers. • 18% report big problems recruiting volunteers with the right skills or expertise. • 25% report big problems recruiting volunteers during the workday.
  4. 4. What is the source of recruitment problems? • Nature: Innate to the organization or its mission. : Beyond the control of managers • Nurture: The result of organizational culture or strategic decisions. : Within the control of managers
  5. 5. Nature • Size of the organization • Prevailing age of its volunteers • Staff-focus: ratio of staff to volunteers • Intensiveness of volunteer use • Number of types of duties available to volunteers
  6. 6. Volunteer Intensiveness
  7. 7. Nurture • Degree of adoption of volunteer management practices • Organization’s cultural orientation toward support of volunteers • Use of recruitment strategies
  8. 8. Volunteer Management Practices • Written policies, job descriptions • Training for paid staff re volunteers • Liability coverage • Recognition activities • Regular data collection • Training for volunteers • Screening and matching • Supervision and communication • Time manager spends on VRM
  9. 9. Organizational Culture • Lack funds for supporting volunteers • Indifference or resistance to volunteers on the part of paid staff or board members • Lack of paid staff time to properly train and supervise volunteers
  10. 10. Recruitment Strategy • Number of methods for recruiting volunteers: At groups Papers/flyers Radio Referral orgs Internet Special events TV Word of mouth • Use of volunteers to recruit other volunteers.
  11. 11. Nature portion of final model Size ns Age: Percent volunteers under 24 - *** Role of volunteers in organization Ratio: staff to volunteers ns Volunteer intensiveness - *** Number of volunteer duties ns
  12. 12. Nurture portion of final model Volunteer management capacity Written policies ns Training for paid staff - *** Liability coverage + * Recognition activities ns Regular data collection ns Training for volunteers ns Screening and matching ns Supervision and communication ns Time VRM spends on volunteer management ns Organizational culture Lack funds for supporting volunteers + *** Indifference from staff + ** Lack time for staff to train and supervise volunteers + *** Recruitment strategies Number of recruitment methods + *** Volunteers used to recruit ns
  13. 13. Conclusions: Nature • Nonprofits of all sizes experience recruitment successes and problems. • Reliance on young volunteers brings fewer challenges in recruitment. • As overall volunteer intensiveness increases, recruitment problems decrease.
  14. 14. Conclusions: Nurture • For recruitment, volunteer management capacity must focus on the professional side. • A supportive organizational culture is essential. Volunteers will not go where they believe they will not be valued. • Scattershot recruitment does not solve recruitment problems. Focus and develop a few key recruitment approaches.
  15. 15. Thank you! ARNOVA 2010