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November 2012
In This Issue
Featured Title: Top Tips for Recruiting Volunteers (DVD)
More Resources
Excerpt: "Your Circle of Resources"
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"We must begin to think and act like marketing experts and approach the challenge of recruitment as a golden opportunity to educate the public about our cause, generate excitement about our organization, and discover the human riches of our community."

--Susan J. Ellis, President of Energize, Inc.

resource Featured Title
Top Tips for Recruiting Volunteers (DVD)
Martin J. Cowling

An Asset Builder's Guide to Service-LearningThis video presents Martin J. Cowling, a leading global consultant on not-for-profit and volunteer management, delivering an engaging lecture built around the important topic of volunteer recruitment. His practical "12 Essential Tips" will assist organizations in thinking about all aspects of volunteer engagement differently.


The DVD, produced by Cowling in partnership with the School of Volunteer Management (SVS) in Sydney, Australia, includes the video and a 47-page "Learner's Guide" (PDF) with questions and activities to be completed by an individual or in a group setting.


Learn more about the DVD and preview an excerpt in our online bookstore.  


This DVD is available in NTSC region coding, the format most used in the U.S. and Canada (US$25).


Order Top Tips for Recruiting Volunteers (DVD) today!
resource2 Other Resources
The Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) Book, Third Edition
by Susan J. Ellis

The Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) BookThis book is literally crammed with every suggestion and recommendation on the subject of recruitment developed over Susan's 30-plus years in the volunteer management field. The book first shows how to design the best assignments for volunteers as the initial step to recruit the most qualified people. What follows is a wealth of information on topics ranging from how your organization's image affects your success in recruitment to where to look for new volunteers, including your own backyard.  Read an excerpt of this book below.


This book is available as a paperback (US$18.95).


Order The Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) Book today!
Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, 3rd Edition
Steve McCurley and Rick Lynch

Build a Better Board in 30 DaysThe definitive "textbook" on volunteer management is now bigger and better. Steve and Rick have written over 150 additional pages of information in this new, third edition. It remains a thorough examination of every facet of a successful volunteer program, from planning and organizing through measuring effectiveness. It includes a chapter on "Recruiting the Right Volunteers."


This book is available as an e-book (US$29.00).


Order Volunteer Management: Mobilizing All the Resources of the Community, 3rd Edition today!
e-Volunteerism: The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community

"Membership Recruitment Made Easy"
An e-Volunteerism article challenging many of our assumptions about recruitment campaigns.  Put aside the posters, letters and e-mails for a moment and ask a simple question: Can you name the person who got you to join?

"Creating a 'Fear-Less' Speakers Bureau Program"
It has been said that public speaking is one of the number one fears of people. Knowing that, how can you attract volunteers to become part of a speakers bureau? And then, what do volunteers need to know once they get there?

subscribers can log in here.

Non-subscribers can read these and all journal articles from the past 12 years with affordable 48-hour access.
Resources Book Excerpt

Your Circle of Resources  

Excerpted from The Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) Book, Third Edition by Susan J. Ellis, Energize, 2002.


One of my favorite suggestions for volunteer recruitment is also one of the simplest: start with the resources in closest proximity to your agency. What untapped treasures might be across the street or on the next block?


Picture your facility as the center of a bull's eye, with concentric circles around it. Now do the following. If you are in an urban area, walk out your front door with a clipboard and pen (take along a volunteer for company). If you are more rural, do this by driving. The point is to walk completely around the block (or drive in a tight circle) and write down everything you see: stores, businesses, parking lots, churches, apartment houses, schools, etc. A "Proximity Chart" worksheet for your use is on the next page.


It is vital to actually do this action physically, even if you feel reasonably sure that you know what is in your neighborhood. Why? Because you will soon discover that: 1) you tend to be aware only of the things that are present in the one direction that you take to work every day; 2) after a while you no longer see what you are looking at; and 3) some of the things you see may not be identifiable. An example of this last point is passing a company with the name "Mighty Corporation" emblazoned on a large sign. Do you know from that name what work this company does? Probably not.


After you have inventoried everything on your street, the two side streets, and the street in back of you, move on to a two-block radius and do the same. As time permits, keep going in widening concentric circles. If you are driving, keep taking right (or left!) turns and inventory a quarter- mile radius, then a half-mile radius, etc. Note that if your offices are in a high-rise building, your first task is to take the elevator to each floor and see who your neighbors are above and below you.


You may be skeptical about this recommendation, but I assure you that you will find a number of "neighbors" that you did not know you had. And this means potential resources.

Now that you have your list, analyze it. If there are mysteries such as "Mighty Corporation," find out what happens there. Your goal is to identify any number of ways your neighbors might help you to accomplish your goals:

  • Might there be business people who could volunteer at your site on their way to or from work, or even at lunchtime? Might there be students or seniors with daytime hours available? Might any of your neighbors have an interest in community service projects of any sort?
  • What professional skills might be tapped at neighboring businesses or schools? (Be sure to watch for sole practitioners such as artists, consultants, accountants, and others with valuable talents--and who control their own work schedules.)
  • Might there be access to other types of resources beyond volunteers: donated goods or materials, storage space, parking space, use of various loaned equipment, etc.?
  • Do any of these neighbors share your service goals, an interest in your client population, or have anything else in common with you that might lead to collaboration of some sort?

Making contact with your neighbors is much easier than approaching resources across town. After all, it is always legitimate to make the acquaintance of folks nearby. Develop a special flyer or letter introducing your agency and address it to: "Our neighbors." Explain the services you offer (include a brochure if you have one) and, if appropriate, welcome visitors. Depending on your comfort level and on the culture of your neighborhood, mail the materials in small batches and follow up within a week by phone, or go in person to deliver the material.


Do not feel that these are "cold calls." As a representative of your organization, you want to spread the word about the good work that you do. It will be of benefit to your neighbors to be better informed about an agency in such close proximity. And, for both sides, there is great potential to share resources. Your opening line is: "Hi. Do you realize that we can see your top floor from our backyard?" Or some variation on that theme.


Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:

Excerpted from The Volunteer Recruitment (and Membership Development) Book, Third Edition by Susan J. Ellis, Energize, 2002. Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at


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