Finding and Recruiting Volunteers
Once a school has committed to running an Intergenerational School Breakfast Program (ISBP), the next step will be to find and recruit suitable volunteers to be Breakfast Buddies. Volunteers that come directly from the school community are ideal. Home and school associations, Parent/Teacher organizations, and current paid or volunteer staff can be a valuable resource.
Launching the Recruitment Campaign
It may be necessary to go outside the school community to find volunteers for your program. When launching a recruitment campaign, it's important to outline the key messages clearly and concisely.
The recruitment campaign should:
- Target appropriate audiences.
- Outline responsibilities and time commitment.
- Be appealing and enthusiastic.
- Be year round.
- Utilize a variety of recruitment techniques.
- Look at non-traditional resources for volunteers.
- Senior citizens
- High School Seniors (for social service credit)
- Local college students (especially those studying nutrition)
- State employees (many can volunteer up to 25 hours per year in New Jerseys schools on work time)
- Describe the program.
- Highlight the need for volunteers.
- Point out the benefits of volunteering for the program.
- Motivate volunteers to sign-up.
- Encourage active volunteers to refer other volunteers.
The more meaningful, visible, and consistent the recruitment message is, the more lasting the impression will be for potential volunteers.
Direct recruitment is carried out through one-on-one contact or in group presentations. The ISBP Coordinator
or active volunteers are usually the best direct recruiters. Because they are speaking on behalf of the program,
recruiters should be chosen for their strong interpersonal communication skills as well as enthusiasm and sensitivity.
Presentations should clearly state the needs of the program, outline the volunteer's role and responsibilities,
and state the time required to carry out volunteer assignments. Although flyers, slides, photographs, audio,
or visual tools may be used, they should not take the place of the oral presentation. After each direct recruitment appeal,
the ISBP Coordinator should offer an opportunity for one-on-one interaction and immediate sign-up of volunteers.
Indirect recruitment takes the form of marketing tools, including fact sheets, flyers, press releases and newsletters.
Additionally, radio public service announcements, the Internet, and cable shows can effectively present the volunteer needs of the school.
All marketing tools should be followed by personal contact whenever possible. An in-depth discussion of marketing tools can be found in the section
Marketing Your Program
Who Should be Recruited
Active adults, retired or semi-retired seniors, or students in service clubs or educational programs requiring
community service, are best suited for the ISBP. Each age group will be motivated to serve for different reasons.
Young people will want direct service opportunities to enhance their skills and experience. Adults will want
challenging assignments in which they feel they are "making a difference" in their communities and making their leisure time more meaningful.
Seniors will want opportunities that offer greater flexibility due to their increased involvement with other activities.
Prospective volunteers should have a positive outlook and a love of children. Candidates that fit this description can be found in a variety of places, including:
- Senior centers
- Retirement communities
- Churches and synagogues
- Social and civic groups
- The Small Business Administration's Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
- Volunteer centers
- Local colleges
- High schools with service clubs
- Housing developments and adult communities
- Labor unions
- Chambers of Commerce
- Cultural/ethnic centers, clubs and agencies
- Service clubs
- Community centers
Why People Volunteer
It is important to understand that there are many reasons a person will volunteer. The ISBP Coordinator should become familiar with
as many of these reasons as possible. By becoming familiar with even a few of these reasons, the Coordinator will be better prepared to motivate and reward volunteers:
- Feel needed, important
- Enjoy a challenge
- Opportunity to be creative
- Explore career change
- Gratitude for service received
- Develop skills and experience
- Update skills and experience
- To share a skill
- To teach a skill
- Get used to working again after illness
- To learn about community
- Because a child wants them to
- Social contacts
- Help a friend or relative
- Release guilt
- Increase skills to add to resume
- School credit
- Public relations for employer
- Cure loneliness and boredom
- Be part of a particular group
- Use existing skills and experience
- Prepare for retirement
- To demonstrate commitment to a cause
- To do a civic duty
- Location, location, location!
- To become an “insider”
- To be able to criticize others
- To be part of a team
- To test yourself
- To be a watchdog
- As therapy
- To assure progress is made
- Because of a personal illness
- To stand up and be counted
- Because of a personal problem
- To test personal limits
- Have fun
- New ideas
- New friends
- Bring about a social change
- Bring about an organizational change
- Identify with a cause
- Be close to the action
- To be a resource
- Find a mentor
- Be a mentor
- Topic of conversation
- Establish peer relationships
- Look for a significant relationship
- Fulfill a court order (community service)
- Peer pressure
- Potential future job
- To get to know a community
- To repay a debt
- Religious / faith-based beliefs
- To gain leadership skills
- To act out a fantasy
- Pressure from friend / relative
- To gain free admission
- To get give-aways / freebies
- To get something you can’t buy
- To be recognized for a talent or skill
- Non-verbal expression
- To instigate
- To report back to someone (spy)
- As a family project
- Because it’s kid-oriented
- To get a day off from work
- To get exercise
BECAUSE THEY WERE ASKED!
Ways To Recruit Volunteers
- Place a newspaper ad.
- Create a public service announcement for radio or television.
- Schedule your volunteers to appear on broadcast talk shows.
- Contact area newspapers to write about the program.
- Hold volunteer recruitment parties at the school office.
- Have open lunches or bag lunches.
- Hold invitational lunches.
- Give presentations to community groups.
- Be on the emergency speaker's list of local community groups.
- Share program needs before the local community board.
- Send out flyers.
- Put flyers on "key posting areas" around town (bulletin boards in public areas).
- Put flyers in appropriate shops.
- Post ads or flyers where likely volunteers congregate:
Encourage active volunteers to recruit friends.
Prepare a film or slide show about the school and the program.
Start a speaker's bureau (volunteers trained to give presentations for the program).
Pass out recruitment brochures.
Put ads in membership newsletters.
Contact local service and professional organization chapters:
Ask for referrals from local politicians.
Set up recruitment booths at local schools and street fairs.
Hold telethons.Recruit with personal letters from active volunteers to prospective volunteers.
Recruit through telephone outreach.
Contact local unions.
Reach out to public relations or corporate communications people at local companies about including a call for volunteers in their newsletter.
Contact local corporations about "donated" executives and "release time" for employees who volunteer.
Create and send email to everyone in the school's address book.
Ask other organizations how they recruit volunteers and follow their examples.
Host a volunteer fair with other nonprofit agencies in the area.
Ask grocery stores to stuff information about the program in grocery bags.
Ask local companies to include information about the program with their invoices.
Contact local service business owners and ask them if they have a pro bono program (work done for free for a good cause).
Speak to local cable stations about doing a program on the ISBP.
Contact local Web-based businesses and ask them to post banner ads.
Post volunteer needs on Internet sites listing volunteer opportunities.
Create a volunteer section on the school's Web site.
- Community and senior centers
- Churches and synagogues
- Unemployment offices
- Tenant associations
Finding the right type of volunteer is important to the success of your program. A potential volunteer should fill out a volunteer application and be interviewed.
The interviewer must be very knowledgeable about the school's plan for the program. During the interview they should:
NOTE: If a volunteer is accepted into the program, the period of time between the original interview and the start of the volunteer service should be as short as possible.
- Assess the volunteer's interest in working with young children.
- Provide information about the school.
- Provide detailed information about the program and be able to answer all the volunteer's questions.
Sample Volunteer Application
Click here for Sample Volunteer Application [Word 26KB].
Once the volunteer has been placed in the school, a welcome letter confirming the assignment should be sent to the volunteer.
Pertinent information such as start date, classroom assignment (if applicable) and time to report should be indicated in this letter.
Volunteers should be invited to the school for a walk-through prior to their start day. If this is not possible,
the ISBP Coordinator should meet each volunteer on his or her first day and orient them to the school.
Creating Personnel Files for Volunteers
A volunteer personnel file should include the job description, the volunteer’s application, a resume if available, interview notes, and copies of all correspondence with the volunteer. If the school requires a background check or medical clearance, these documents should also be placed in the file. A file card with emergency contacts should also be maintained for easy reference.
Recording Volunteer Hours of Service
A simple sign-in sheet should be accessible for the volunteer's use at the school.
Information on volunteer attendance can be useful for:
- Recognition of volunteer service by hours, months or years of service.
- To help school staff plan for future volunteer activities.
- Data can used in obtaining matching financial and in-kind support for the volunteer program.
The working conditions of the school are very important for volunteer retention Volunteers will respond positively to:
- Well-organized operations.
- Good planning.
- Pleasant physical surroundings.
- Clear volunteer and staff job responsibilities.
- A positive attitude towards volunteers.
The Importance of Recognition
Volunteers need to be recognized, and recognition should be more than an annual event.
Volunteer recognition can be wide-ranging and include statements about volunteers that the coordinator presents in the initial interview,
words of inspiration at training, the name badge worn by the volunteer, the greetings by school staff when volunteers arrive,
the periodic "thank you," special treats at holidays, a suggestion box, and/or a parking space.
Tips for Recognizing Volunteers
Some creative ways to recognize volunteers might include:
- Certificates of appreciation.
- Municipal proclamations to thank volunteers.
- Invitations to and recognition at assemblies.
- Encouraging students to write thank you letters to their Breakfast Buddies.
- Sending birthday and occasion cards.
- Posting a Volunteer Honor Roll or other recognition in a highly visible area of the school, such as near the main office.
- Greeting the volunteers by name.
- Refreshments for volunteers.
- Awarding plaques or other mementos to the volunteer.
- Recognizing volunteers in the school newsletter or send a news release about a volunteer to the media, with the volunteer's permission.
- Color-coding volunteer nametags to indicate achievements (hours, months, or years of service, etc.)
- Including volunteers in school events.
The Intergenerational School Breakfast Program is administered by New Jersey WIC Services. For more information log on to
www.nj.gov/health/isbp or call (609) 292-9560.