I blogged a week or so about starting or building a volunteer communications team. I’ve used this approach with alot of success over the last year. When I say success I mean that I’m getting some really good quality and experienced professionals to volunteer their time and who enjoy serving and also more importantly stick around.

Here is an example of an email I just received from a prospective volunteer.

“I have worked as both marketing and advertising for more than 10 years including 6 years working at Apple Computer & HP… I have passion for marketing and would be thrilled to have the chance to volunteer my time for your communication team.”

Pretty cool isn’t it. Why did this person email me? Here’s why.

1) I asked them. Again, and again and again. If you don’t ask you don’t get. Ask people to step up to the plate. I do that by advertising in our weekly bulletin. Yes. The humble church bulletin isn’t dead as some people think it is. You can read more about how I make a decision on whether potential volunteers willl be a good fit for the team here.

But once they are ‘on the team’ more work still needs to be done:

2) Set up a communications system or routine.Once on board if their role is repeatable we work out a manageable weekly routine of what needs to be delivered and when.

3) Agree on boundaries ahead of time. Whether your volunteer is serving on a system or working from project to project agree on deadlines, briefs, expectations ahead of time. It saves you and them the embarrassment of any unmet expectations near a stressful deadline. It is also just plain healthy to have an agreement of what you can both expect of each other. We all have boundaries, often it is only when we are pushed over them with negative results do we realise the need for them.

4) Write a ‘how to’ of that communications routine. We are all finite. At some point whether it’s a volunteer or myself we will leave. We need to record and document what we do because it will give the next person a massive head start when they begin their role. Writing a ‘how to’ can also lower a barrier to service because a potential volunteer can see that we are setting them up for success in their role.

5) Stay out of the way. Sometimes the project your volunteer is working on is in their strength and in your area of professional weakness. My advice is to brief them and then get out of the way. Sure put in critical milestones to deliver the project, but stay on the sidelines and cheer them on in their strength.

 How do you attract with volunteers? Do you have any questions about volunteers? Get commenting below.

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