Volunteer Recruitment and Retention in Changing Economic Times (Part 1)

Written by on 08-18-2009

The effects of the 2009 downturn are impacting volunteer managers all around the United States. You may have lost volunteers who have taken additional jobs to make ends meet, had to relocate or are working extra hours at a company that is struggling. This loss of your volunteer base may come with challenges; however, it also has the potential to give birth to a deeper pool of volunteers.

Those who are underemployed or unemployed can become willing workers. They are redefining volunteerism as a means to network, using their time to find a new career path and boosting their resumes. The under or unemployed may bring new talents including technical, language, financial, marketing and artistic skills to the volunteer world.

You may also find volunteers with tremendous leadership and organizational backgrounds who are looking for the right opportunity to showcase their strengths. These may be the perfect people to place as committee chairs, team leaders or in other management roles. Keep in mind that it is important to understand that these strong candidates may want to focus on short-term projects, recognize that the uncertainties of 2009 may not allow them to make long-term commitments.

Of course rotating and bringing in new committee members should always be your goal regardless of the economic situation. Keeping a diversified committee allows you to keep a varied volunteer body. A 5% turnover rate is healthy and brings new ideas to your organization.

Look for opportunities to expand your volunteer pool with new talent and you may come out of the economic downturn with a stronger organization.

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