Booster clubs can never have enough volunteers. After all, the more volunteers you have, the greater the success of your events and fundraisers!
But it always seems to be a challenge to get volunteers, right? Sometimes I shake my head when I realize we have hundreds if not thousands of parents in our school system and only a very small fraction step up to volunteer. Then I remember how busy people are: they work, they take care of their household, they have a family, they chauffeur and attend extracurricular activities like plays, sports, and concert. That doesn't leave much time left to do volunteer work.
Thankfully, there are tactics you can implement that can increase the number of volunteers at your next event.
Focus on the Benefit
Begin by defining the value of the volunteer's contribution. Every volunteer opportunity creates a valuable benefit for your students, your teachers, your school, and the community. Make sure you point out what that benefit is! Examples: "In just one hour, you can generate $1,000 to fund student opportunities when you work the register at the school store." "Show our teachers/coaches your gratitude by serving food at this year's Appreciation Luncheon."
Persuade, Don't Beg
The typical way that booster clubs ask for help from volunteers goes something like this: "We need your donation! Please support us!!" That is begging. There's no benefit to the reader. And even more important, it's too vague.
Make every word matter. More words = less chance they will be read. The person you are asking to volunteer is also being asked questions constantly by their family, their employer, their friends, their neighbors, businesses they shop at, and advertisers. After you write a volunteer solicitation email, wait 24 hours, re-read it, remove as many words as possible without changing the message, and then send it. You'll be surprised how concise your request can be.
Ask What They Do
Before I became active with our local booster club, I met a club board member. I asked him "what kind of help you need?" His answer was genius: "What do you do?" When I told him I build websites, he nearly fell over. He was so excited. "We need a website! You could build one for us!" And that's how I got roped in. I expected him to say things like "we always need help, just give us your email address and we'll let you know when a need comes up." But instead, he asked what my interest was, what my skills were, and then he found a way to utilize my expertise to help the club. You can do the same thing the next time you talk to potential volunteers. Ask them what they do. You'll be pleasantly surprised to see the wide range of experience you could tap into in your hometown. But only if you ask.
Make It Sound Fun, Not Scary
Potential volunteers are afraid they will be dragged in to a huge, long term commitment if they offer to help. Give them some easy options in the beginning, like helping to hang spirit wear shirts on hangers or setting up folding chairs. Those small tasks will give them an opportunity to meet you and enjoy the satisfaction of helping others (which may lead them to offering to help on bigger tasks in the future).
Make It Easy
Make sure your website makes it as easy as possible for people to volunteer. Have a prominent link on every page of your site that says "volunteer!" When you send an email asking people to volunteer for an event, include a simple, clickable link in the email to the sign-up form on your website. Something like myboosterclub.com/volunteer. Avoid using complicated, long links that are overloaded with gibberish characters and numbers.
Your events simply would not happen without volunteers. You need those volunteers. The fastest way to lose a volunteer is to let them think you don't appreciate them. The size of their donation is irrelevant. Whether they donated a napkin, their time, or $10,000, every donor appreciates being thanked. Be sure you send a personalized "thank you" after each donation is received.
Social proof is a psychology term. It means "when I see other people doing something, I tend to think I should be doing it too." You can establish social proof by acknowledging your volunteers on your website. Future potential volunteers will see past names and subconsciously think "oh, I guess this is something I should be doing, so I'll volunteer" especially if they see names they recognize and respect.
Consider offering incentives to volunteers, such as recognition, thank-you events, or discounts on club-related activities.
Reach out to individuals personally, especially those who have shown interest or have skills that could be valuable to the club. Personal invitations can be very effective.
Partner with School Staff
Collaborate with school administrators and teachers to help identify potential volunteers among school staff, such as retired educators or staff with relevant skills.
Encourage students to talk to their parents or guardians about volunteering for the booster club. Sometimes parents may be more inclined to volunteer when their child expresses interest.
Provide training for new volunteers, so they feel confident and prepared for their roles. This can also help build a sense of community and belonging among volunteers.
Feedback and Recognition
Recognize and appreciate the efforts of your current volunteers. This can encourage them to stay involved and potentially recruit others.
Promote a Fun and Inclusive Atmosphere
Make sure your booster club is an enjoyable and welcoming place to be. When people see that it's a positive environment, they may be more likely to volunteer.
Regularly Update Opportunities
Keep your volunteer opportunities fresh and relevant. People may be more inclined to volunteer if they see new and exciting projects or events.
Define Roles and Responsibilities
Clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of volunteers. This makes it easier for potential volunteers to understand what is expected of them and how they can contribute.
Example of a Benefit-Oriented, Persuasive, Concise, Easy, Grateful Volunteer Solicitation Email
Here's an example of an effective volunteer solicitation email. I sent this to all parents when we coordinated a staff appreciation breakfast. We sent this email out to all parents, and we made sure to spell out how their donation would benefit teachers. The sign-up form asked parents to donate all of the food, drinks, paper products, and labor to feed 150 people. This email successfully attracted all of the donations we needed:
Want to show gratitude for everything INSERT_SCHOOL_NAME staff does to help our kids grow into successful, happy adults?
During Staff Appreciation Week, parents and INSERT_BOOSTER_CLUB_NAME will provide breakfast for INSERT_SCHOOL_NAME faculty on INSERT_DAY_AND_DATE.
We need your help. Could you:
- Donate food?
- Cook food?
- Serve food?
- Help set up?
- Help clean up?
Please let us know by clicking the following link. Thank you!
Remember that volunteer recruitment is an ongoing process. Continuously communicate the positive impact of volunteering and the benefits it brings to the booster club, the community it serves, and to the volunteer! Building a strong and committed volunteer base takes time, effort, and persistence.
Booster Club Volunteer Management Best Practices
Why Booster Club Volunteers Get Frustrated and Quit
How to Get Parents Excited About Your Booster Club
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