Tips and tricks
The best way to turn people out for the build is to get them invested in the project early and often. Invite them to fundraisers, Design Day, youth activities, volunteer drives and planning meetings. That first commitment is always the hardest, so give people several opportunities to get involved. Once they catch the bug, they'll reach out to their own networks and do much of your job for you.
Stay high profile.
To attract a large number of unskilled volunteers, maintain a consistently high public profile through ongoing media coverage, wide distribution of flyers, and networking with other service groups. The more people hear about your project, the more likely they are to show up.
Did you know? In a recent survey, Americans said that simply being asked to volunteer was a big factor in their decision to donate time. 63 percent said that they would volunteer if asked, compared to only 25 percent who would seek out volunteer opportunities on their own. And with only 50 percent of people being asked to volunteer at all, every community has a huge untapped resource of willing citizens! So practice your pitch, get out the door, and ask! Demonstrating your personal commitment to the cause will inspire others to get involved.
Are you busy? Does your household get bombarded with requests for help, invitations to local events, and junk mail? Well, the people you're trying to recruit are in the same boat! Remember that people typically don't respond to volunteer requests until the second, third or fourth time they're approached. So keep putting your information out there, and don't give up...those seeds will sprout!
Recruit for the long haul.
Many projects addressing school improvements or children's activities find that inevitably, the children who are directly involved grow up, and the core group of parents moves on. Support for the issue then dwindles until there's another crisis. Don't let this happen to your community build! A playspace requires consistent, long-term maintenance and programming to keep it safe and fun for an entire generation of kids. To promote that kind of involvement, think outside of the sandbox! Focus your recruitment efforts on a diverse group of citizens who have varying stakes in your playspace's success: neighbors, local businesses, elected officials, and the landowner. Get teachers on board, and target parents of toddlers and kindergartners who will use the playspace down the road. Start envisioning volunteer activities that could take place six months or a year after the playspace is built, and identify strong leaders who can carry the torch. And remember, these children who see their parents and neighbors come together to build them a playspace will turn into the next generation of community leaders!
Sign volunteers up and follow-up.
Remember, don't just settle for a verbal confirmation! Have volunteers actually sign up and provide their contact info to help ensure they will show up!
From Independent Sector, 2002
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