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Ask the Right Questions to Recruit the Right Volunteers

This is a guest post by:

Shari IlsenShari Ilsen is Senior Online Communications Manager at VolunteerMatch, the Web’s largest volunteer engagement network. She uses online technology to help almost 100,000 nonprofits across the country connect with millions of volunteers every day. Catch up with Shari on Twitter @silsen.

123FormBuilder is supporting #GivingTuesday! To honor this great initiative happening across the world, we are hosting a series of articles dedicated to nonprofits everywhere. Thank you, Shari for writing this!

At VolunteerMatch, we’re all about helping nonprofit organizations find the right volunteers. We focus on the quality of the match being made, so the connection between volunteer and nonprofit will last a lifetime even if the event itself only lasts one day.

You want your questions to be friendly yet thorough, so you present a welcoming face to your prospective volunteers, but also clean enough information to determine if it will be a good match. I consulted with the experts on the VolunteerMatch Community Support team, who manage our Community-Powered Support page (thanks Shannon and Adam!) Here’s some advice they provided: This kind of meaningful, comfortable connection doesn’t happen automatically, however. It takes some magic on our end, and also some strategy and intention on the part of the nonprofit organization. We’ve learned that open and direct communication is critical at the beginning of a nonprofit-volunteer relationship (collecting feedback), and the questions nonprofits ask can set the tone moving forward.

To streamline the logistics of your volunteer program:

  • What is your phone number?
  • What days/times are you available?
  • Do you have a driver’s license?
  • Are you willing to complete a drug test, TB test, get fingerprinted, etc.? (This is necessary when working with vulnerable populations.)
  • Can you attend a volunteer orientation/training on one of the following dates (…)?
  • What is your T-shirt size? (So you don’t have to ask later…)

To learn more about the volunteer’s background or inform future recruitment efforts:

  • Why do you want to volunteer with us? What are your own goals for your involvement? (Be careful not to discriminate if the volunteer says they are being required to serve.)
  • Are you currently volunteering anywhere else? If so, where?
  • Where else have you volunteered in the past?
  • What other ways, if any, have you found volunteer opportunities?
  • In what capacity have you previously worked with (children, elderly, animals, etc.)?
  • Do you prefer working individually or with others?
  • What additional professional or technical skills do you have?
  • Do you speak any other languages?
  • Are you looking for a long or short-term commitment?

Tools to Ask the Right Questions

  • Forms and surveys are quick and easy ways to ask the right questions of volunteer candidates. Check out 123FormBuilder’s volunteer application form template.
  • Nothing is as effective as real-life contact, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and conduct a short, informal interview with your potential volunteer. You can even ask them to come into the office for an in-person meeting. If they make the trip, you know they’re really interested.
  • Finally, if you have VolunteerMatch’s premium “Community Leader” service, you’re able to add custom questions to the automatic recruiting process, so you can quickly scan the answers of all of the potential volunteers who have expressed interest and pick out the ones who are they best fit.
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