As we approach the Olympic Games many organisations are looking to involve volunteers, often for the first time. Volunteer Centre Dorset's Karen Jones has been helping them to get started...
"It'll be alright on the night!" This is what I am saying to a few people, who at the eleventh hour who have been undergoing a crash course in volunteer management as they are putting on events as part of the cultural Olympics. These events will rely heavily on volunteers and I, in my work role with a Volunteer Centre, have been giving them great advice on how to attract volunteers, recruit them, involve them well, make it a great experience and look after them.
'We thought it would be so easy to get volunteers' came the chant from the training rooms, 'Do we not just contact the Volunteer Centre and you supply them ready made and trained for the role? Sadly our funding for the cryogenics unit ran out years ago and my desk draw no longer contains dehydrated labelled volunteers in a jar - the type you just sprinkle water on and hey presto!
What you have to find out here before I go on is these organisations have never involved volunteers before, some don't know about volunteers and are not from voluntary sector organisations, they have been thrown in at the deep end without armbands and no goggles.
I ask what other means of recruitment have they tried? Some had done little, some had done tons in the local press but had no joy. What was going wrong? well those of you VMs reading this know all to well. These event organisers had thought getting volunteers was easy all you had to do was ask and they would come running, they had underestimated what was needed to be done and in place. No I didn't give them all the red tape to play with, I made it easy giving them post it notes and getting them to break down the roles for a start then got them to make an attractive sounding fun honest role. 'We never thought we would have to do all this' moaned some but at the end of the exercise they enjoyed it with the challenge of learning something new - The voluntary sector is not to be taken lightly!
Then they were given an even bigger treat they were introduced to other ways of finding volunteers! My favourite being Social Media - Yes I even introduced the wonders of IVO to attract a wider audience and you can see them here in full swing They have put up great information and clear details so go check out their hard work - Battle for the Winds and Once in a lifetime.
There are many exciting short flexible opportunities for volunteers over the summer months as part of the Cultural Olympics here in Dorset, it's the eleventh hour so where are they? It'll be fine cross fingers!