Recruiting Tips to Build Your Dream Team

“In my head, we are already there.”

Those are the words Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) said in the movie Hidden Figures, when referring to NASA sending a man to the moon. He had a vision to see men in space, a vision so vivid, he saw them as already there!

What is your vision for your volunteer dream team?

With the competition today for volunteers, recruiters have to significantly up their game plan when it comes to recruiting top talent. Every organization wants the best, and today’s recruiters need to have a clear strategy in order to attract high capacity volunteers.

Can you visualize a picture of that dream team equipped and ready to tackle the project? Make your vision a reality with these four tips:

1. Target demographic groups for your dream team

Who do you need?

Last November I was teaching a worksop for CASA (Court Appointed Children Advocates) in Texas. During a break I met a retired hispanic Sheriff.  As a Texas sheriff he was required to retire at age 57, and he was not ready to spend all his time playing golf. Not only did he have a passion for the mission of CASA, but he also had contacts with retiring sheriffs, especially hispanic men.  CASA had determined that a demographic group they needed was hispanic men.

In that same workshop I also met a retired elementary school principal who had joined the staff of CASA.  She had many contacts with retired teachers who knew the challenges of foster children.

After you choose a target group, look for those retired professionals in that demographic group to be a lead volunteer.  Challenge them to use their network to build a strong volunteer team.  If you can, hire staff to reach that demographic group.

2.Create partnerships with the number one type of organizations that people are volunteering for.

Who is volunteering in America?

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service Volunteering in America Report, the number one type of organization that people are volunteering for in the U.S. comes from one of these:

  • Religious
  • Educational
  • Social Services

Who do you think is number one?  Actually, I’ve listed them in order. In the U.S religious organizations were the number one type of organization with 31.1%. Eduction was number two with 25.2%, social services third with 14.6%.  Why is that significant?

Many churches are encouraging their members to join your dream teams. Last year I taught workshops in several churches that sponsored a tool box meeting for the leaders of organizations such as local food banks, CASA, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Red Cross. These churches were encouraging their members to get involved the community and “be the church” rather than just “go to church.” I even saw one church that gave their members T-shirts with the mantra printed on the back of the shirt, “Don’t Go to Church — Be the Church.”

Schools and business make excellent partnerships.

3.Brainstorm at least ten dream team prospects. 

Get a legal pad and write at the top these words, “My Dream Team.”  Don’t quit until you have at least 10 names.

Jonathan McKee, co-author of our book, The New Breed, talks about this method in his handy little guide for ministry volunteers leaders. “Brainstorm,” he says. Visualize who you think would be an incredible asset on your team!

I learned this method many years ago, when I was in my 20s (yes, some 20th century methods still work). I was recruiting volunteers to coach and mentor young people.  I met once a month with other team leaders in what we called a “recruiting team.”  We sat in a circle with our yellow pads and would brainstorm lists of prospective volunteers. I not only suggested volunteers from the high school students I was working with, but I left the meeting with a list of potential volunteers.

4.And finally,  ASK them personally to join our dream team.

When you ask someone you are telling that potential volunteer, “I value you for this role.”  Announcements and posting for volunteers don’t communicate that personal value.

And be sure to ask for a date, not marriage. To build the successful dream team, ask the volunteer to take part in an event so you can work with them and see how they work. Then you can decide if you really want them on your dream team. To read more on the dating method, see, “Recruiting is Like Dating—Don’t ask for Marriage on a First Date.

Ask yourself these four questions to test your recruiting methods.

  • One:  Are you targeting certain leaders in the demographic group you want to recruit?
  • Two: Have you created key partnerships with organizations that people volunteer for such as churches, schools and businesses?
  • Three:  Have you brainstormed a list at least 10 potential volunteer team members on a yellow pad?
  • Four:  Do you ask each on your list personally?
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