Sell your volunteer training as part of your recruitment strategy

Volunteer training is a very important factor in your ability to recruit people. Although your first priority is getting your potential volunteers to understand your benefits; selling your excellent volunteer training program runs it a close second. As we have seen in the volunteer recruitment page, you produce happy, motivated volunteers by selling them on your benefits. When they are showing interest in your benefits then sell them on the skills they will learn as part of your training program.

The remainder of this page covers a range of subjects you may want to include in your volunteer training program. I would also recommend teaching some of your more experienced volunteers the powers of persuasion as part of their volunteer training.

The first item to include in your volunteer training is teaching them to put out your message at every opportunity. As I said before, it never ceases to amaze me how many community organizations assume people know what their benefits are and dont put out their message at all. I have seen many of these organizations and I usually find that not more than 10% of the members can actually tell you the benefits of the organization to the community. I can emphasize that point enough: the first thing you should do is make sure that you give everyone in your community the chance to understand the benefits your organization brings to the community.

This starts with your volunteers. As part of the volunteer training you should brainstorm your benefits with them. This way they can take ownership of the benefits. Theyll buy-in to the benefits more that way.

Many volunteers fear asking for money in the selling process. In your volunteer training assure tem that asking for money is not easy for anyone. Even the most self-confident people have a fear of asking for money. Admit the fear and go ahead and ask. Its nobody elses business how anxious you feel.

The actual fear when asking for money is fear of rejection. If you get a no, dont take it personally and simply move on to the next person. Not everyone in your community is going to support your organization so dont be upset if people refuse.

Its an old adage but, if you dont ask you dont get. Often I hear people saying, Oh, I didnt ask such and such because they wouldnt support us. My experience is that 1 or 2 out of 10 people in this perceived category actually will support you (provided youve put your message out around the community enough and they know who you are and what you do). Be certain of one thing though, they definitely wont support you if you dont ask. Most people have a certain amount that theyll give to good causes each year and you can only get your share if you put your message out and then ask for your share.

People quite often turn from a no to a yes when they come to understand the benefits your organization brings to the community. Remember theres no such thing as a permanent no either. I count each no as a chance for me to learn something that will help improve my technique. At the same time Im content that Ive sown the seed. Dont forget that seeds sometimes grow on seemingly barren ground. Never, ever take it personally.

When a volunteer is trying to sell as part of your fundraising the first thing they need to be aware of is that many people are uneasy when you stand to close and invade their personal space (especially if you are physical bigger than the other person). Make sure your volunteers stand about 2 feet away from people when they are out selling.

Part of your volunteer training should be dedicated to teaching the volunteers how to ask. They start by smiling and making eye contact. Scientific research shows that people believe those who smile regardless of whether or not they are telling the truth. Introduce yourself by saying your name, the name of your organization and what they do (if the person doesnt already know). Explain why you need funds and what you are going to do with them. You can shorten this process according to the value of the sale and if you already know the person but always smile anyway.

For bigger sales (say $100 ticket) mention the amount and follow it up quickly with a dialog about why you need these funds and what impact they will have on peoples lives, then ask for the amount and be quiet until they say something. Dont be tempted to fill a period of silence, make sure they are the next one to speak.

Thank them for their time even if they dont agree to support you (they may never support you or they may need a bit more exposure to your message; either way youve sown a seed so dont burn any bridges). If someone asks you a question which you cant answer dont hazard a guess. Commit to finding an answer and getting back to them.

Dont give you volunteers a script, just notes of the key points to get across. Practice different situations. What if you go to a door and only get your name and organization out? What if you have listed the benefits and they say come back another day? You need to brainstorm these situations so that everyone knows what to do. Granted if its for a $2 ticket theres little value in trying to change a no to a yes but for $60 it may well be, but not always; sometimes if you are too pushy it will turn them off, whereas they may support your next campaign is left to think about it; only experience in your neighborhood will help you here.

An important part of any volunteer training is to ensure that your volunteers are not afraid of failure. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we learned to fear failure. This is totally un-natural when you take time to consider it. When we were learning to walk, we failed many times, when we were learning to ride a bike, we failed many times. In fact, how often do you think people succeed first time, at a relatively difficult task? You guessed it; hardly ever. Failing is the number one reason why the human race continues to progress. We do, we fail, we learn, we do, we succeed. Its always been that way. Don't mess with a perfect formula.

Train your more experienced volunteers to look out for signs that a person may be open to helping out. Some people are too shy to put themselves forward but if youre selling them a ticket and they show an interest in the organization, suggest that they come along to an event or in the case of sports teams, maybe a kids practice.

When selling small value tickets thank the person and then put a general thank-you in your newsletter. If you receive a larger donation send out a thank-you postcard. In the case of larger sponsors get the volunteer to organize a photo in the local press.

Train the volunteers on how to build a rapport with people, how to sell, how to spread your message, how to market etc. A good technique in selling is to ask for recommendations after youve made a sale.

There is plenty of material on this site that may be useful as part of your volunteer training program so don't be afraid to use what you need.

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