Finding Daytime Volunteers

p1050816One of the myths of the volunteer world is that daytime volunteers are an endangered species. In the past, organisations grew complacent in their dependency on female homemakers. When more women started to take paying jobs outside the home, such agencies found themselves without their accustomed source of volunteers.

The good news is that organisations willing to seek new pools of talent will end up with an even better corps of volunteers than before.

There is no secret about where to find adult volunteers available for weekday assignments: recruit from the large segment of the workforce who do not work "normal" hours. In fact, logic shows that "normal" hours are relative indeed. Think about all the jobs that require: shift work; predominantly evening hours; weekend days; or odd or flexible schedules.

Shift Work
A wide variety of institutions and businesses function twenty-four hours a day or at least on double shift. This means that many people who work 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or 3:00 to 11:00 p.m. have discretionary time available overlapping the 9:00 to 5:00 agency day. Even the night shift might be attracted to early morning volunteer work. If you select worksites close to your organisation's location, one of your recruitment pitches can be: "help us out on your way to or from work with very little extra commuting." Consider the range of people and skills available in 24- hour worksites: hospitals and residential treatment programs; many factories; television and radio stations; police and fire departments; telephone companies; hotels; the military; the Postal Service and overnight delivery companies.

Evening Workers
In the same vein, it is easy to identify businesses employing people mainly in the evening hours. Such workers often sleep late after a long night at work, but are prospective volunteers in the afternoon. Some sites are: restaurants; theaters; newspapers; janitorial services; computer services.

Weekend Workers
Quite a number of jobs require Saturday and/or Sunday shifts, thereby giving employees a full day or two off during the week: parks and recreation programs; most cultural attractions such as museums and historic sites; churches and synagogues; libraries; shopping malls; hair dressers and sports clubs. Some jobs overlap categories, especially retail sales which employ people on the weekends and in the evenings.

Odd or "Free-to-Choose" Schedules
Some employed people work on changing, inconsistent, or temporary schedules. While this may make it difficult to place such volunteers in regular assignments, they are nevertheless excellent resources for volunteering that focuses on producing a result rather than requiring a time commitment. Consider: airline personnel; substitute teachers; "temps" of all sorts; long distance truck drivers; and farmers. A whole sub-category involves people who are self- employed or work on commission. They can choose to volunteer during a weekday and "make up" the work time later. For example: consultants; artists; anyone who works at home; sole practitioners in fields such as accounting or public relations; real estate agents.

It is probably worthwhile to point out that the higher a person rises in a company, the more flexibility s/he has in allocating his or her schedule. So you can consider top executives more likely weekday recruits than secretaries who have less choice.

Part-time workers

As wok habits have changed many people have shorter working hours and are only too delighted to have something to fill their time. 

People who have been made redundant and are seeking work.

volunteering is a way to learn new skills, try something out or to keep experience current. Recent research show that over 1/3 of prospective employers actively look for ways in whihc unemeployed people have used their time.  By getting involved with a local community group you are showing a range of talents from initiative through working as part of a team.

 How to Recruit These People
There is nothing mysterious about encouraging the people identified above to volunteer: go to them and ask. This may mean arranging to send someone from your organization to a worksite in the evening to talk with prospective candidates, or putting up a poster in your local social services office. Target with a campaign that shows you really want their involvement.  Write volunteer role  descriptions that make use of the skills these people have demonstrated in careers.

People whose work hours differ from the majority are motivated by the same things as any other prospective volunteers. If we expect people who work Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 5:00, to volunteer in the evenings or on weekends, why is it surprising that someone who works in the evenings would be willing to volunteer in the morning? Or startling that people who are looking for work will spent some time giving back to their community in a win-win situation.

Remember that volunteers live longer, have greater self-esteem and are happier, so go on put on your thinking caps and see how you might involve moe volunteers with more skills in your organisation.

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