How to/Why Recruit Volunteers for Your Community
9/8/2011 6:29 AM
Every community site can always use an extra pair of hands to help itself internally. Every successful site always had its fans who take an interest in the direction or purpose of the site. Sites always have weaknesses and holes where it cannot afford to hire someone to do a job due to budgets and other reasons. Your marketing team sends the external audience or site traffic to your website that sets the tone of conversation in your forums from social media outlets. In steps the volunteer, who is recruited to fill some type of the gap in your site's operation such as nights, peak or off-peak, and weekends when they are already active but you and most of your team isn’t available.
Volunteers can play an integral support role in plugging in coverage if you spend the proper amount of time screening who you recruit to help you out. Volunteers can be your average users that share your passion but do not benefit monetarily from your business. They also learn a valuable experience dealing with your community and/or handling the common customer service issues. It is also important to keep sensitive information and trade secrets away from the volunteers at all times. If they are being exposed to sensitive information, you may want to have them sign an NDA and an independent contractor agreement. So how should you recruit the volunteers that work for you?
These are my two main methods or processes for recruiting volunteers:
Application method (Open Process)
This method is where you put up a public form and ask for a short bio, contact information and maybe a short survey or essay. Keep it simple and not like a tax form.
Recruit Method (Closed Process)
You recognize your top contributors or power users and you want recruit them to help you continue your websites mission. You have a good eye for their talent and voice with in your community. How to convince him to join your site is up to you. These users tend to have a following from other members of your community.
Both methods are effective in recruiting volunteers. Please remember they are unpaid volunteers and don’t expect them to work the position like a full time job unless they are being paid as an independent contractor which is out of the scope of this article. Always be thankful of the time they put in and do not forget thank them often and recognize their contributions to your community.
What do you look for when your looking for volunteers?
I have recruited hundreds of volunteers from all age levels and job profession disciplines for various positions and website communities. I have had high school teens 18 and over earn scholarships and awards for volunteering for me. I also have had other volunteers get job offers from the learning of interpersonal and customer service skills by helping my sites. While this article is uses forums or a chat lobby as an example, volunteers can come in from all disciplines and trades.