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Mobilization Tool Kit -- Volunteer Intake

One of the most important things an organization can do is to accept new volunteers. The process of introducing new volunteers to an organization is called "intake".

I take a cautious approach to intake. I don't believe that you should encourage everyone that phones or walks in the door to participate. You are going to invest substantial amounts of time in your volunteers, and you want to make sure that it is worth it.

I invite all potential volunteers in for a brief introductory meeting to learn about one another. In an informal manner, I tell the potential volunteer about the organization and ask them about themselves...

As I learn about their skills and interests, and if I believe they would make good team members, I start to imagine what areas and projects they can contribute towards, and tell them about the potential opportunities. If I like what I see, I am selling the organization at this point.

When all is said (15-30 minutes), I offer them some information to take home, and ask them to read it, think about the organization some more, and call me if they are still interested in volunteering.

A lot never call back. This process weeds out most of the casually interested-- those who would accept any task the minute they walk in the door (out of inertia), but will quickly drop away anyways. It also gives you an opportunity to evaluate a volunteer. Some volunteers are unfortunately more work than help, aand you want to respectfully ask them not to volunteer-- to save you more grief and time later.

The ones that do call back, are genuinely interested in what you are doing, and what you have to offer. Provided they are not a "problem volunteer", they will probably help out in a meaningful way.

When the good ones do return, take the time to welcome them, introduce them to others, and together decide what area(s) the new volunteer can work on.

Volunteers take a lot of staff time, but can add a tremendous energy and synergy to your organization. Serve your volunteers well, and they will pay you back in dedicated labour.

Volunteer training can take a lot of your time, and should be approached cautiously. A separate page is dedicated to this topic.


The Activist Tool Kit is a project inspired by YAEC:

Youth Action Effecting Change
yaec@eya.ca     www.yaec.ca
PO Box 34097 Station D Vancouver BC V6J 4M1 CANADA

The Activist Tool Kit was written and built by Al Rycroft of SunshineCommunications.ca.

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