7 Ways Chapters Have Succeeded in Volunteer Recruitment

We have traveled around the country doing chapter leader workshops and can report that there are chapters succeeding in building volunteer engagement where other chapters struggle. What’s in their playbook?

(1) Have a person or team who’s focused on building the volunteer pool. Call it your Director of Volunteering and Outreach, Director of Volunteer Services, VP of Volunteers, or your Talent Scout. Consider this your HR person that actively seeks “talent” and matches them to jobs. Pull together a team of people who like to connect people led by your coordinator (here are job descriptions). The goal is to develop a talent pool and a “pool of activities”. This pool of activities should include big and small jobs. It should offer variety. The focus is on connecting members. Here’s a resource on creating that pool.

(2) Let it all begin with the person, not the position. This is important. Too often in chapters we identify the open seats and then ask people to claim a chair. There are many problems with this. First, you often get a mismatch between the person and the task. The result is low engagement. Second, we get lots of “no’s” because few ask to be placed in any ole open seat and many do not want a “term”.

(3) Flip the script. Interview members on their interests and skills. Then share the many ways they can apply their skills and knowledge in helping the chapter get the job done. Try questions like “what is your [insert profession] passion” and “what skills and expertise would you like to bring to volunteering.”

(4) Make it easy to raise a hand. Chapters are following the lead of national associations in providing their members easy sign-up options like Metro DC ATD’s google form, PMI NH’s and PMI Western ID’s online forms or PRSAMD Volunteer Poll. Some national associations are helping their chapters by providing volunteer portals for chapters to use (like PMI’s VRMS – Volunteer Relationship Management System) or including chapter volunteer opportunities in national outreach like Regulatory Affairs Professional Association and Institute of Management Accountants.

(5) Think micro and ad hoc volunteering. We are all time-starved and therefore find it very difficult to say yes to a long commitment. What’s on your list of small volunteer opportunities? Read more at To Deepen Member Engagement, Redefine Volunteering.

(6) Recast the message – from volunteer to involvement. The word volunteer can turn people away. Plus, it conjures up term jobs (think one, two or more years). Savvy associations and chapters are using the work involvement or connect.

(7) Ramp up the volunteer message. PMI NYC and PMI St Louis do this well! NJCPA offers links to sell the value of volunteering and PMI AK gives you a compelling list of benefits of volunteering.


Looking for more tips to share with chapter leaders?