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How the Clients of Your Nonprofit Can Serve As Volunteers

Little affirms human dignity more than honest work. One of the surest ways to destroy self-worth is subsidizing the idleness of able-bodied people. Work is a gift, a calling, a human responsibility. And the creation of productive, meaningful employment fulfills one for the Creator’s highest designs. Because of that, it should be a central goal to our service.
Robert Lupton, Toxic Charity

One thing that changed drastically when I stopped leading A Day of Hope and turned over the reigns to the new team of leaders was that they changed “who” the volunteers were.

In my five years of leading A Day of Hope the primary volunteers I recruited were teenagers who had required community service hours, college students, and adults with kids. Those were the three groups I often sought out as potential volunteers to support our work in the community.

However, when Enclave Community Church began to lead A Day of Hope they enlisted the help of clients to serve as volunteers. This was a group of people which I never thought to or attempted to recruit as volunteers.

For several years Enclave had been running their weekly food program mostly through the work of volunteers, and most of those volunteers were clients in their program. The same people who were receiving a grocery bag of food every week were the same people who were going to the food bank to get the food, organizing it, preparing it to be given away, and then doing the cleanup work after the distribution of food.

Doing ministry with volunteers who are also the clients of the program looks different, but it can be done. In today’s post I show you how the clients of your nonprofit/church program can serve as volunteers.

Opportunities to volunteer must be expanded to all segments of the community—it is consistent with the concept of equal opportunity. Instead of being the privilege of the already privileged, volunteering must become the right of everyone: minorities, youth, seniors, the handicapped, blue-collar workers, business people, the disadvantaged. Remember—those who understand the culture and lifestyles of those you are trying to recruit make the best recruiters.
Marlene Wilson, The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs, p. 118

How the Clients of Your Nonprofit Can Serve as Volunteers
A great example of having clients serve as volunteers is a community garden where people in need of food can plant and grow their own food while learning life lessons of responsibility, patience, etc.

 Photo Credit: US Department of Agriculture

I. Your clients can do a great job of serving as volunteers because they know about:

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How to Cast Wide and Deep When Recruiting Volunteers

If you work for any type of church or nonprofit organization you know that recruiting volunteers to help with your ministry is difficult. People are busy, have limited time, and often already have commitments to other organizations besides yours. In this post I will show how you can recruit more volunteers by casting wide and deep in your volunteer recruitment efforts.

http://christopherscottblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/How-to-Cast-Wide-and-Deep-When-Recruiting-Volunteers.jpgPhoto Credit: Justin Norman

I. 2 Elements of Wide and Shallow Volunteer Recruitment

Opportunities to volunteer must be expanded to all segments of the community—it is consistent with the concept of equal opportunity. Instead of being the privilege of the already privileged, volunteering must become the right of everyone: minorities, youth, seniors, the handicapped, blue collar workers, business people, the disadvantaged. Remember—those who understand the culture and lifestyles of those you are trying to recruit make the best recruiters.
Marlene Wilson, The Effective Management of Volunteer Programs, p. 118

A. What You Ask For:

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How to Use Vision to Recruit Volunteers

Vision seems to be a popular word for good reason. Vision is what excites people and attracts them to nonprofits, companies, and churches. In this post I show how you can use vision (or mission) to recruit volunteers for your nonprofit program.

How to Use Vision to Recruit Volunteers

Photo Credit: Senior Living

I. What is vision?

A. Definition

It is a picture of what your organization (or individual program) hopes to create in the near future.

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6 Reasons Nonprofits Have Trouble Recruiting Volunteers

This summer I did some extensive research about how nonprofit organizations can best recruit, lead, and keep volunteers.

 Reasons Nonprofits Have Trouble Recruiting VolunteersPhoto Credit: Steve Depolo

My research led me to discover that there are six common reasons that nonprofits have trouble recruiting volunteers.

Too many willing-hearted volunteers have been wounded “on the job.” They’ve responded to an invitation to serve, only to end up in a volunteer position that was poorly conceived, resulting in tasks that few people would find fulfilling. Or they show up to serve and discover they have nothing to do; an underprepared volunteer coordinator has wasted their time, causing them to lose precious hours they had willingly carved out from their busy schedule. Some work hard on menial tasks without ever hearing how their efforts serve a grander cause; they’re given plenty of work, but no vision. Others have felt overwhelmed by unreasonable demands for which they’ve not received proper training; rather than being set up to win, they get put on the express lane to frustration and failure. Many have been hurt when a coercive leader drafted them to “fill a slot” without considering their gifts or talents or what they love to do. Some have given hours—maybe even years—in volunteer service to an organization or church, without receiving a single thanks.
Bill Hybels, The Volunteer Revolution, p. 25

1. Lack of training for staff working with volunteers