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Volunteer recruitment strategies

  • 1.  Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 04-25-2019 06:23 PM
    Hey guys!
    I am a new volunteer coordinator for a museum in Northern Arizona, and I was wondering if anyone had had any new ideas for volunteer recruitment, methods/strategies..etc.

    Ryan Urena
    Flagstaff AZ

  • 2.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 04-26-2019 08:54 AM
    Hi Ryan,

    Are you happening to be attending the AAM Annual Conference next month? There are a group of us presenting on recruitment, retention and recognition. If not, let me know and I can shoot some ideas over to you.


    Renee Birk
    Assistant Director
    John G. Shedd Aquarium
    Chicago IL

  • 3.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 05-01-2019 03:42 PM
    Unfortunately I will not be attending the AAM conference next month. But yes if you could send me some of the ideas you have that would be great! Thank you!

    Ryan Urena
    Flagstaff AZ

  • 4.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 04-26-2019 11:43 AM
    That is one of many topics we will be covering in our new online professional development course Managing Museum Volunteers on
    This course will focus on strategies for running a successful volunteer program that adapts to the needs of the museum. Appropriate for professionals starting a new volunteer program or wanting to reinvigorate an existing one, this course will include topics such as: assessing the museum's needs for volunteers; managing the recruitment, selection, onboarding, training, and evaluating of volunteers; and troubleshooting problems with volunteers. We will also consider some of the ways that volunteerism in the US is changing overall and how those changes might affect museums.
    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Bradford Bredehoft
    Museum Study - Museum Study, LLC

  • 5.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 04-26-2019 12:58 PM
    Hi Ryan,

    When I started at the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA in 2005, we had only 40 active volunteers. We now have over 100 adults and 30-40 students, who regularly serve in the Museum.

    Here are some things I do:

    • Definitely register with every on-line, social media, volunteer source that you can: Volunteer Match, Verified Volunteers, Points of Light Foundation, any Volunteer Center in your area, and on your own museum's social media, always mention your volunteer Program, Register with local High Schools and see if any of them utilize "x2Vol" a school program that offers opportunities and tracks hours for students. And advertise in any local senior living newsletter or newspaper that you can. 
    • Make speaking engagements in active Senior Living residences. Talk about your museum and how much fun and how rewarding it is to become a volunteer!
    • Get your volunteers in the news!! Does Flagstaff have a Farmer's Market or more than one? If so, table there with some of your current volunteers. If they love what they do they'll spread their enthusiasm.
    • Come up with incentives... offer discounts in your gift shop, plan outings like exchanges with other organizations, especially for your volunteers. Such filed trips are good team builders and help your volunteers get to know how other places work. Most museum will reciprocate and work out some kind of exchange with you.
    • Have a fun event just for volunteers. It could be a BBQ where everyone brings their favorite chili, or dessert to share. Maybe ask a local vendor to donate drinks or produce for a huge salad! This will allow volunteers to meet each other in a social setting and maybe bring a friend who might enjoy volunteering also. Offer free passes in exchange for anyone a volunteer brings to the program! Word of mouth is really the best way to build your program.
    • Create community in any way you can.
    • promote your Volunteer Program as a "Social Club" with many special ways that your volunteers receive benefits. Get local vendors to agree to extend discounts to your volunteers. 10% off if they show a "volunteer card".
    • Take pictures of your volunteers have FUN!! Come up with an interesting angle to get your local newspaper or NPR Radio station to run a story about one or more of your volunteers.
    • Create a continuing education program which will educate your volunteers in a fun way, so they will learn about your museum collections, and enjoy the continual input. Always have coffee, tea, and snacks for at least 1/2 hour prior to any program. Volunteers love to socialize around food! 
    • Have an ice cream social and put flyers out around the community. Shamelessly say, WE NEED YOU!!! BE A PART OF OUR MUSEUM! YOU"LL LOVE IT!!! then be sure they have reasons to love it!
    • Volunteers at the Schulz Museum say that they are treated better than any volunteers anywhere! And I do ALL of these things! 
    • Create an online Volunteer Newsletter. You can get volunteers to help edit this. Feature stories about the volunteers and lots of pictures of them in action, pictures they take on trips that have something to do with your museum, and always have upcoming special events and mentioned.

    I could go on and on, but basically you need to recruit endlessly and never let up. Always acknowledging everyone who helps, every time they do. Take the time to really connect with each and every one of your volunteers and encourage them to become more and more involved. Ask then what they want out of your program and then try to fulfill that. Everyone volunteers for a different reason, so find out what everyone's reason is!

    Be patient and listen to them all. But also be firm and a positive leader. And encourage the rest of your staff to get to know them all as well. Come up with incremental rewards and stay on top of that. Then they each have goals to aim for while they are serving your mission statement.

    Be sure to provide them with snacks or at least coffee and tea in a break room.  If you don't have a budget for that, encourage the volunteers to bring baked goods or produce/fruit, etc. on a rotational basis.  Another way of volunteering is contributing in such a way.

    I always let our volunteers know that volunteering is a wonderful form of philanthropy. Putting their time and energy into the organization is as important as writing a big check. Letting them know how much their contributions are appreciated is always a key. 

    There you go! Let me know if I can offer any further encouragement or ideas.  

    And remember... "If you're not having FUN, then you're doing something wrong. Try a different approach! Everyone wants to laugh and have a great time! Remember to have a good sense of humor."

    Kristi Lucas-Hayden
    Volunteer Director
    Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center
    Santa Rosa CA

  • 6.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 04-29-2019 09:35 AM
    Hi Ryan, my April blog post features a museum volunteer manager who recruits a diverse base of volunteers. You might get some ideas here.

    Check out:  How to build a volunteer program (practically) from scratch

    - Elisa

    Elisa Kosarin, CVA
    Twenty Hats
    (703) 967-3516

  • 7.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 04-29-2019 11:31 AM
    Hi Ryan, 

    I am finishing my capstone on creating a volunteer manual designed to recruit and retain volunteers. If you'd like a copy, I will be releasing it in June. 

    Kind Regards, 

    Pamela Dadlani

  • 8.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 05-14-2019 02:35 PM
    Yes a copy would be great! Thank you!

    Ryan Urena
    Flagstaff AZ

  • 9.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 05-01-2019 05:21 PM
    Hi Ryan,

    You might look into joining the American Association for Museum Volunteers ( Membership cost is very reasonable - just $35 for a year and gives you access to a forum just for volunteer managers, sample forms and documents, a newsletter and more! Full disclosure - I am on the AAMV board, but I would promote AAMV to volunteer managers even if I wasn't. It has been a very helpful resource for all things volunteer related.


    Jenny Woods

    Jenny Woods
    Assistant Manager of Volunteer Programs
    Seattle Art Museum
    Seattle WA

  • 10.  RE: Volunteer recruitment strategies

    Posted 05-06-2019 11:12 AM
    ​Hi Ryan,

    We would like to suggest a different perspective.  Consider the motivation of volunteers.  Although some prospective volunteers will be attracted to the social and educational opportunities of volunteering, there are some of us for whom the drivers are the opportunity to use skills and experience. 

    We are examples.  We are both retired educators, one of us a physician whose professional life related to organizing programs for interns and residents, the other a Ph. D. who taught college students and managed student teacher programs.  As volunteers together we started an internship program for college students.  It is highly regarded.  Now in our 80s we continue to manage the program for our own museum and 4 other smaller venues.  We have run workshops on how to organize an internship program, recently organized a panel discussion at a state-wide professional meeting  with colleagues at two other museums and this month piloted a survey to study the attitude of museum staffs towards interns. We believe that there are many people who are looking for opportunities to use a broad array of skills in areas such as finance, education, retail, and law.  Our suggestion is to consider a program or project with which you need help.  Perhaps it is starting an internship or developing a museum travel program. Maybe it is designing a visitor survey or writing a history of your organization. We think you will be gratified by the excellent candidates that you will find.



    Ethel Weinberg, M. D. and Judith Finkel, Ph. D.
    Academic Liaisons National Museum of American Jewish History