1. Determine your needs.
Before running out and grabbing volunteers, come up with a plan. What do you need them to do? Be sure the group(s) you are inquiring with can handle the challenge of volunteering physically and mentally. For example, if you want to take your group hiking in the mountains for a week, a 75-year-old might not be the best person to take with you.
In addition to what you need them to do, be sure you have a schedule of times / dates to share. What skills might be beneficial? The more specific you can be with who you need, why you need them, when you need them and what you expect them to do, the more likely you’ll find someone to help.
2. Get to know your volunteers.
Do more than ask for help. Getting to know your volunteers helps you find out what they are passionate about. The more passionate they are, the more likely they are to help. Be sure to keep notes. You might have someone volunteer to be present at meetings who is a master quilter or takes care of honey bees in their back yard. Their passions can be used to expand the programming you offer.
3. Be honest.
Don’t waste your time and theirs if they are not a good fit for your needs. If you can’t use a volunteer now, ask him or her if you can contact them later with a volunteer opportunity that better fits their abilities and passions.
4. Sometimes the answer is no.
If you’re worried about being rejected, you will be. It will be in your body language. Instead, be positive in your attitude and passionate in your cause. Even if they say no, it’s a connection you made that might lead somewhere in the future. Remember, sometimes a “no” is actually a “not right now.”
5. Online possibilities.
Many sites offer a way for people who want to volunteer to get together with organizations. Check out the Sites to Explore to find a few to start.
6. Senior centers.
Seniors are usually retired. They have loads of experience and knowledge that they can share. Their schedules are more flexible than most. In addition to being a “body”, they may be able to help you with planning and development of programs. Check with your local senior center for help.
7. High school students.
High school students are often looking for service hours that they can include in their scholarship applications. You’ll want to track the time they are with you and give them a copy for their records. Be aware that the time / schedules for high school students are very full so you’ll need to work with them if you want them to volunteer for you. Ask your high school about making a presentation, distributing a flyer or other way to communicate with students about your needs.
Service is a big part of college life. They often have departments helping to coordinate it. Some colleges require service for graduation. Check with your local colleges for possibilities.
9. Local businesses.
Whether your local businesses participate in service or not, you might be able to persuade them to volunteer for you. For example, my local credit union allowed my Brownie troop to come in and learn about savings accounts, fake money and more on a Saturday morning before they opened. Two tellers and an office manager came in on their time for the girls.
Keep a list of the local businesses you contact and their responses to your inquiry. If they say “not at this time”, ask when a better time is or what they’d be more likely to help with. If they can only help at certain times, have a limit to the kids they can work with, etc., note this information as well. It will help you fine-tune your request next time you contact them.
10. Health care providers.
One big thing we always have at Girl Scout events is a First Aider or the equivalent. Of course, they can also bring their knowledge about health and taking care of oneself to your meeting or event. Inquire at your doctor’s office or a local medical center.
11. Interest organizations.
Volunteers from interest organizations can provide access to different skills and / or knowledge. For example, a writer’s club might help writing an essay or short story. A crafting club might teach the craft they love. You can check with your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, etc.
In my town, a small group of ladies raises money to maintain the gazebo in our park. It is one of the few historic pieces from a time when buildings held dances and activities at the edge of Lake Michigan. They might not teach a skill, but listening to their stories is a great item to incorporate with a meeting or event.
If you can align your needs with your teacher’s skills, you have a greater possibility of getting a yes. Teachers are not only interested in the subject they teach. Like everyone else they have pursuits and hobbies they enjoy. Talk to a few teachers to see if they’d be interested in helping.
13. Family and friends.
If kids are interested in trying something, parents, family members and friends often feel like they should step up. This is a reason groups like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts keep a steady stream of volunteers. Unfortunately, most of them leave when the kids are no longer interested. Talk to your friends and family about what they’d be willing to share.
14. Park educators.
County and city parks often provide programming to bring people into the parks. While they might not volunteer to help in other ways, hosting a special night to run a program they already have or bringing it to your meeting or event allows you to offer more variety to your kids. We’ve worked with national, state and local park departments to provide programming that wouldn’t have been available otherwise. Check with your park educators to find out what they are offering now.
15. Advertised events / workshops.
Check out the advertised events and workshops in your area. Ask them if they would mind running the program for your group or troop. We’ve had special classes at art galleries and craft stores. I have a RAD instructor who is willing to do an abbreviated presentation for our Service Unit.
16. Other volunteers.
When looking for volunteers, remember that if they love what they’re doing, they’re more likely to volunteer to do it for you. People will recommend friends and acquaintances they know. Teachers may put you in contact with knowledgeable non-educators. Keep your ears open for other volunteers.
Sites to Explore
To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Volunteer Resources_lrl