No matter how friendly your organization or how powerful your mission, volunteers must overcome a few emotional barriers and worries before they will commit (or even answer your recruitment ad). Your recruitment materials must provide the critical information they need to calm their anxieties. Then, and only then, can you set the stage for success.
Volunteer Applicants Have Unexpressed Concerns
The barriers volunteers experience vary from person to person, based on their own past experience and current set of life challenges. They might also be precipitated by the volunteer’s own identity and sense of self. If they are insecure about their capabilities, for example, they may be unable to ultimately make a commitment without some reassurance from you and others.
If you ask potential supporters what worries them, they likely can’t or won’t tell you -- anxiety is a private matter for most, and not easily shared with strangers. Alternately, their concerns may be subconscious, nagging thoughts that they couldn’t put a name to if they tried. So, as a volunteer recruiter, it’s up to you to predict the unexpressed concerns of your volunteer applicants and address them in your recruitment appeals.
10 Big Worries of Volunteer Applicants
- Will they accept my application?
- Do I really have enough time?
- Can I afford it (the transportation, childcare, time off work, etc.)?
- What, exactly, will they be asking me to do?
- Will I be comfortable doing it?
- Will I fit in with others?
- Will I be treated kindly?
- Will I know what to do and how to do it?
- Will I be safe?
- Will I be able to have a real impact?
What You Can Do About it
So, what can you do to calm any trepidations your supporters may have about volunteering? First of all, take them seriously. Think about the language and photos you use to describe your volunteer opportunities. Can you use them to answer some of the questions that arise? What about testimonials from other volunteers and people you serve; can they help? Finally, although your volunteer postings are usually short, can you provide a link to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on your website? These are but a few things you can do to eliminate the internal psychological barriers that keep people from joining your team.
So, what do your volunteer fret about? And how do you address these worries? Share your ideas in the comments.
Want to learn more about how to recruit the right volunteers for your program?
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