Communication and task management are really the keys to cultivating and maximizing volunteers and community involvement. It is sad for a volunteer to signup and never be followed up with. It might be even sadder when they are followed up with in a generic way, but then are never put to work or really engaged.
That said, the first thing is that folks who sign up to volunteer should definitely be followed up with somehow - in a personal and timely manner.
For the sake of the staff tasked with coordinating volunteers, the workflow for who will follow-up and how should be clearly defined. Once you've got the workflow, then when there is a need for recruitment, you can begin to promote your volunteer recruitment efforts, online and off. I wouldn't proactively ask for people to sign up until you are ready to follow-up with them and have at least 3-4 ways to engage them.
The good thing is there are various ways and levels to engage folks. It has to be a good fit for the community and the staff involved, so it is manageable at every step.
Simple ways to engage volunteers
For public/volunteers who have just signed up or don't have the time or drive to get really involved
Requires minimal day to day coordination from staff, can be done in newsletter or in email blast to recent volunteer signups.
- Sign this petition
- Share your story
- Give your feedback
- Give a buck or more (community low dollar fund raising - number of donors is object rather than amount raised per donor)
- Using the NationBuilder "find friends" feature, send an email about "find friends who like this organization"
Medium-participation ways to engage volunteers
For vols who have a little more time and interest - these are ways to begin to cultivate their skills and participation
Requires medium staff attention
- Come to our lobby day
- Participate in top secret conference call or series of calls (can use webinar or conference call service to engage)
- Come to training - how to become advanced (below), how to lobby, how to etc etc.
- Come to fundraising event - as donor and or to work at table or helping with event
- Come to community action event
- Raise funds
- Sign a Friend Challenge using NationBuilders "Recruting" feature
- Contest/Challenge for Points promoting the NationBuilder "Leaderboard" feature
For those who have really drunk the kool-aid
Requires alot of staff attention and a good level of trust, communication and a working relationship between staff contact and volunteer
- Lead a lobby team
- Recruit and manage volunteers (some staff will have to coordinate these team leaders of course)
- Coordinate their neighborhood team
- Coordinate event with staff (fundraising, action, etc)
- Coordinate your issue team
- Host fundraising event at your home
No matter what level of participation of the volunteer, good communication and clearly defined tasks will help ensure they have a wonderful experience with your organization!