Setting up your team
With your preliminary recruitment strategy in hand, it's time to find some help. Your recruitment team members will help you distribute flyers, set up recruitment drives, approach potential partners and manage volunteer activities. They should be positive and energetic, and they should have a strong belief in the project. Aim for 4 to 8 regular team members, and reach out to diverse segments of the community. While you're recruiting, keep a list of people who are interested in the project but too busy to join your team; they can be a valuable resource later on.
Once you have a few loyal team members recruited, it's time to get down to work. A first meeting sets the tone for your entire project, so try to be professional, organized and energetic. Show up on time, prepare a clear meeting agenda, and set a time limit for each item. Oh, and don't forget about the fun! Remind your team of the joys of play and they'll carry that energy back to the community. Here are some topics to address:
Review the playspace project
Discuss the overall project vision, as well as the community-build model. Emphasize the potential for a spirited, broad-based effort! If available, show off the playspace/playground design that you will all be working toward!
Review your team's goals and strategies
How does your team fit into the big picture? How many volunteers need to be recruited? When, where and for what activities? Where will you find them? Discuss your team's strategy and timeline.
Brainstorm community resources and personal connections
It's not what you know, it's who you know! Ask people on your team whether they have access to any sort of citizen network. It's simpler than you think: perhaps someone's cousin owns a business, or their neighbor belongs to a service organization. Use the list of community resources in Mile 1 to help brainstorm...you may be surprised at the results!
Delegate team tasks
Do your team members have different interests, skills and schedules? Of course they do! Whenever you can, assign a whole task to someone with a special skill in that area; you'll give each person a chance to shine while making your job a lot easier. Here's one way to break up the Recruitment team tasks:
- Composing solicitation letters, advertisements, flyer text
- Posting flyers
- Calling, visiting and following up with partnering businesses/ organizations
- Planning and managing recruitment drives: information booths, special events, fundraisers, etc.
- Managing current volunteers: gathering contact information, engaging them in activities, etc.
- Handling volunteer appreciation
Set specific goals for your next meeting
How will your team measure its progress? Are there any tasks that need immediate action? Before you go, agree on a time for your next meeting and create specific deadlines for each team member's tasks.
Setting a team meeting schedule
The next step is to propose a regular schedule for recruitment team meetings. How often will the team meet? Where and for how long? Do members have potential scheduling conflicts? Do they need childcare? Does anyone have long vacations planned? Be thoughtful and considerate toward your team members' other commitments; they'll thank you for it!
Setting a recruitment team timeline
KaBOOM! strongly recommends setting a series of small, tangible goals at the outset of a project, to keep you and your team motivated and focused. If your co-chair(s) haven't confirmed build dates as of yet, work with the entire planning committee to agree on an ideal timeline. Then work backward to fill in recruitment team tasks such as contacting organizations and staging volunteer drives. Here's a sample timeline for your team; feel free to create your own (and add as many activities as you want)!
Establishing a recruitment budget
Because you're not responsible for any fundraising, you'll need to talk to your co-chair(s) and fundraising captain about project funds available for recruitment. Remember that if your committee has a public relations captain, he or she may be responsible for pricing and purchasing all promotional materials – from posters and envelopes to Build Day T-shirts. It's still a good idea to keep track of your team's spending, so that you can evaluate the effectiveness of different methods and complete any necessary reports. Use this worksheet to get your money matters in order:
Check in with your team members on a regular basis to make sure that you're all moving forward. Here are a few questions to gauge your progress:
Review of recent activities
- Has your team been successful in bringing volunteers and participants out for project events?
- Have people been receptive to you recruitment message?
- Which recruitment methods have proved to be the most effective?
- What have you learned that will help you in the future?
Recruitment for the build
- How many volunteers have signed up for the build?
- How many are still needed? How will you recruit them?
- Have volunteers been pre-assigned to specific tasks?
- Are you keeping a master volunteer list, with appropriate contact information?
- Do you have a plan for placing confirmation calls the week before the build?
- Is there a plan to publicly recognize volunteers?
- How many potential partners (businesses, service organizations) have been contacted? What has their response been?
- What more can be done to get organizations involved?
- Have you ordered T-shirts for build volunteers? (You may need to coordinate with your public relations captain if necessary.) When will they arrive?
- Who will be responsible for volunteer registration on Build Day(s)? How will you ensure that all arriving visitors pass through registration?
- How many tents, tables, and chairs does your team need at the build site? (Tell this information to your co-chairs and logistics captain.)
- d. What other supplies will you need for Build Day(s) and how will you obtain them? (e.g. nametags, markers, poster board)
- Have you discussed a skill-level tagging system with the construction and safety captains?
- Have you established an emergency source of volunteers?
- Have you created a volunteer liability form? (You may need to coordinate with your safety captain, if necessary).
- Are your team members still excited about the build?
- Do they need a break or special reward? (Keep reminding them of the important work they're doing!)
As a project leader, you simply can't do everything alone. That's why you have team members! A large part of your job will be to motivate, instruct, advise and help others as they implement your plan. Remember that delegating responsibility usually enhances a project, because jobs get done by people who have a special skill in that area. It also helps everyone practice their management skills and get more out of the project. This, in turn, will improve accountability and make for a truly "community-built" playspace.
But that's not all! Being a leader also means keeping meetings on track and managing time wisely. Hone your Team Captain skills with these simple tips:
Delegate complete jobs rather than portioning out small tasks
Team members aren't there to do your "busy work"! If you put your trust in them, they'll rise to the occasion and give you a more creative, thoughtful response. Clarify the job before delegating. Make very clear your expectations, the job's priority, the deadline, who can help them, and how this task fits into the big picture.
Give help when requested
And not before then! It's important to step back, resist the urge to micromanage, and let your team members do their work. (But be there in a pinch.) Listen. Repeat what you've heard to make sure you understood. Pay attention to non-verbal behavior (gestures, posture, tone of voice). Put yourself in their shoes.
At every meeting, it's important to record what was accomplished, what new goals or deadlines were set, and who said what. Agree upon meeting procedures. Who will speak and in what order? What topics will be discussed? Having fair and consistent procedures will keep people focused during lengthy meeting. Set time limits. Meetings tend to go on until someone stops them. Let people know how much time they have to speak, and stick to it.
Evaluate your success
As you begin implementing your strategy, take time during each team meeting to discuss the following questions: Which methods are working? Which organizations are giving us the best response? Is our recruitment message effective? Is that message creating any misconceptions about the project? What can we learn from our efforts thus far? Remember – every mistake is an opportunity to learn!
"People have to feel needed. Frequently, we just offer a job and 'perks'. We don't always offer people a purpose. When people feel there is a purpose and that they're needed, there's not much else to do except let them do the work."
- Maya Angelou