Dear Gentle Friend …

The email began:

Dear Gentle Friend, My name is Mrs. Doris Kwamen I am a dying woman who have decided to donate what have to you/church …

It didn’t go immediately to my spam folder (they are getting slicker and slicker) but the unknown sender and the generic greeting had my trigger finger on delete immediately. Then I stopped because it occurred to me that the three biggest mistakes we make in volunteer recruitment are:

  • sending a request by email
  • sending it in a generic email
  • sending it from an “unknown” sender


Which is the greater error, is up for debate. We know from the Decision To Volunteer, that the most successful and most powerful request is 1:1, personal ask (55% selected it as the way they first learned and 29% cited not being asked is the reason for not volunteering). And no, an email isn’t personal. I blogged about the personal email I got that was easy to say no to.

When it’s a generic email (think “call for volunteers) it’s only slightly better. Again from the DTV, only 5% reported answering a call for volunteers.

You might argue the point that an email if send from the association isn’t unknown or one may say that members know the officers … but the reality is that too often the sender doesn’t ring a bell or, in the case of an association email, isn’t from an “important” sender.

I know we’re all about volunteers but we still don’t do a good job of volunteer management. ASAE09 shows four sessions (just enter volunteer into the search window) on various aspects, including an important one on Thanking Volunteers with Authenticity led by a great group of Component Section volunteers (those staff that work with your SIG’s, chapters, sections, et al are the front line with your volunteers, so listen to them!)

In many ways it all begins with the ask – how have you asked your member to volunteer?