When recruiting volunteers, practice “cultivation”.

Just as you would nurture seeds and plants in a garden to ensure maximum growth, so you must nurture potential volunteers.  This means that a “one time ask” might not be sufficient to encourage someone to commit to a project.  You may need to invite them to events at your agency, introduce them to other volunteers and talk with them over a period of time to help them feel comfortable.  It is worth the time!

Be aware of language and terminology.

Many adults who are technically “senior citizens” resist the idea of being called a “senior citizen”.  Some people, particularly those not born in the U.S.,  don’t identify as “baby boomers” despite the fact that they fall within that age bracket.  For some, the word “volunteer” has a pejorative meaning, especially if they perceive volunteers as not being valued and respected.  Language is a very sensitive topic and it is wise to be aware of words that might offend your target audience.

A specialized message will be more effective.

Focus your message specifically to avoid “one size fits all”.  Your message for a 65 year old male will be different than a 25 year old female.

When developing recruitment materials, market to your target audience.

Identify the people  you want to bring in and identify what motivates them to volunteer.

Word of Mouth Works!

Remember-word of mouth is your best recruiter.  People are most likely to volunteer when they are asked by someone they know.

For technical support and expertise, reach out to your local community college.

Need help with your website or other technology?  Find out what your local colleges and universities might be able to help with.

Use social networking as a recruitment strategy.

Your agency website or Facebook page, even a Twitter account are all effective ways of getting the word out about your opportunities-even for those of baby boomer age who are far more tech savvy than they are often given credit for.  Going virtual is certainly more cost-effective than creating paper fliers and brochures and can help you reach a wider audience.

When you host an event, give everyone a role!

At an event, give all of your team members the opportunity the participate in some way. You can assign roles such as greeter, server, photographer, and more. Involved = engaged!