The steps to creating a successful team of volunteers for MLK Day.

Management | Online Resources | Tips for Leaders | Maintaining Volunteers | Additional Resources |

If you missed last week’s webinar on Recruiting Volunteers, below is a recap of some important points from the webinar. This webinar will also be repeated on December 7th.
With the holidays quickly approaching and people seeking ways to give back, there’s no better time to begin recruiting volunteers to help make your MLK Day project a success. As with any aspect of MLK Day planning, it’s best to convene a meeting of the MLK Day planning committee to get started.

Generating New Volunteers

Your MLK Day planning committee should design a consistent message to use when conducting outreach to recruit volunteers.

The next steps:
  • Tap into the volunteer base at organizations that are or were potential MLK Day project sites
  • Contact past volunteers and encourage them to bring five friends
  • Think creatively to reach people where they live, work, and play and consider partnering with local businesses to post information
  • Work with a business to create a volunteer experience for its employees that impacts the volunteer as well as the community
  • Recognize existing volunteer mechanisms such as Greek life or YMCAs and connect with them directly to gain volunteers

Engaging Diverse Populations

Youth - Involve organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs where a diverse group of youth already participates. Include youth representatives on your planning committee and ask for their input when designing the project.

Seniors – Partner with Seniors Corps or other senior-focused programs.  Provide volunteer information with a lot of lead-time at senior centers, places of worship, etc.

Students – Target groups on and off campus that already work with college students in your area (Model UN, NAACP). Eliminate barriers to student involvement like transportation on the day of the event. Ask professors to add the project as a service-learning component to their classes.

Volunteer Management

Hold an orientation for volunteers prior to or at the beginning of your event. Take a moment to relate your project to the work of Dr. King. Describe the project in detail, its goals, and how it will impact the community. Make sure you provide hands-on training for volunteer duties that may require it.

Break down volunteer opportunities for MLK Day into a variety of time slots and tasks to appeal people with a range of skills and varying schedules. Create a project calendar – either online or in print – that outlines what’s available, what to wear, age requirements, etc. Include a way to capture contact information (online) and how to contact the volunteer manager (online and print).

Don’t forget the reflection component of volunteer management—it can be done before, during, or after the service project. During orientation, provide opportunities for volunteers to share why they are serving.  During service activities, have a discussion, if possible, about the service and how it will impact the community or issue the service addresses.  Have posters with factual information about the issues volunteers are impacting to allow for private reflection during service activities. After the service, allow volunteers time to share their experiences with the group.

Online Resources for Volunteeer Management and Reflection

  • Volunteer connection sites: Allforgood.org, Idealist.org, and Createthegood.org are good places to post projects when seeking volunteers to match your project’s need.  The MLKDay.gov project search engine is powered by All for Good, so posting projects here will provide maximum exposure.
  • Google Applications: Google’s familiar Calendar feature when used with a Google Form and Spreadsheet (custom-designed to capture information from your volunteers) can help you keep all of your volunteer information in one place.
  • Facebook Group: If most of your volunteers are active on Facebook, invite them to join a Facebook group to enhance communication before and after the project.
  • GroupMe: A group texting feature, GroupMe will enable volunteers to work in teams and allow remote volunteers to keep in touch during the Day of Service.

Tips for Team Leaders

  • Prepare: prior to the day of service by doing a site visit to ensure that you are familiar with the site and the service project to be completed. Have a clear understanding of project goals and be ready to communicate the organization’s mission and goals.
  • Empower: volunteers by giving them freedom within boundaries to carry out their service
  • Have Answers: to questions such as where are the bathrooms, where are refreshments located, and how can I get a T-shirt or other volunteer incentive items?
  • Establish: clearly defined rules.  This will help to ensure the safety of your volunteers.
  • Recognize: your volunteers for their hard work. A simple “Thank You” works well.

Maintaining Volunteers Beyond the Day of Service

  • Capture information early and maintain that information (online is best)
  • Provide structure so volunteers feel their time is being used well
  • Let volunteers feel responsible for some aspect of the work
  • Establish a group mentality: hand out t-shirts or post stories about the group effort online
  • Keep the lines of communication open through an e-newsletter, list-serve, or social media sites beyond the event

Additional Resources

For more information on Volunteer Management in Tips and Tools.
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