Thursday, July 17, 2008

NN08: DFA Training - Volunteer Recruitment, Management & Development

9:00 (Central Time): This session is lead by Matt Blizek of DFA.

9:10: People you recruit are not just for the current campaign, but they are building the base for future recruiting and activism in the future.

9:12: The key is "The Ask." You have to go out and find people and persuade them to invest their time in your cause.

9:13: You are not asking people to do you a favor, you are giving people an opportunity to better their community, state and country. You have to get over the fear of asking people to participate.

9:14: Most people will say no (75-80%). If everyone you ask says "yes," then you aren't asking enough people. Ask yourself why you're involved and use that as a basis to convince others.

9:15: Find out what motivates people and focus on that in your recruitment activities, whether it be excitement about the candidate or opposition to the other side or whatever. Other motives: issues, ideology, partisanship, social interaction. Ask them why they are there.

9:18: If your volunteers are having fun, they'll come back and they'll bring others.

9:19: First,set some goals. How many volunteers do you need? What do you need them to do? Start with a needs assessment that includes everything you could possibly need.

9:22: Volunteers are making a contribution to the campaign. You have to have something for them to do, don't waste their contribution. No volunteer should ever be standing around doing nothing.

9:25: We really should be keeping track of the data that people obtain when canvassing and things like that to help us maximize future efforts in the same area. Keep track of info such as how far apart houses are, etc.

9:27: The rule of halves: You can only count on half the people who say they are going to do something to actually show up and do it.

9:28: Five C's for any ask: 1. Connect with people. 2. Context. 3. Commitment. 4. Catapult. 5. Confirm.

9:29: Who do you ask? 1. Friends, family, co-workers, people you have a personal connection with. 2. Previous volunteers. 3. Reach out to organizations: unions, interest groups, student groups, high schools, etc. 4. Any large-scale event have table, sign-up sheet, and ask large numbers of people.

9:32: The more personal the interaction, the higher the success rate. Face-to-face asks have the highest success rate, but they take a lot of time. Phone is probably the best bang for the buck. E-mail has a very low rate of success, but can get to more people quickly and cheaply. The best approach is to blend your tactics.

9:34: Busy people are more likely to volunteer than non-busy people.

9:36: The most powerful recruitment tool: Energy and enthusiasm.

9:38: In the ask, give some personal information. Matt starts off with his full name, where he's from and what organization he works with. Using a title can be an effective tool as well, the person may feel more important if someone with a title is calling them.

9:43: Have your volunteers bring in others using their own connections.

9:44: Provide the context behind what it is that you want them to do. Let them know how valuable/important what they are doing will be towards your success.

9:46: You have to get them to commit. To get a solid commitment, you have to make a solid ask. Wishy-washy questions get wishy-washy answers. When the what, when and where are locked in, then you have a commitment.

9:50: Catapult them into the commitment. Find ways to break down the inevitable excuses. When they commit, show a lot of excitement (not fake excitement, however). Try to hook them in with one other little ask ("We're ordering pizza, what do you like on your pizza?" "We're relying on volunteers to bring in some supplies, could you bring in some pens." "Could you stop by and pick up Bob who needs a ride?").

9:54: Call and confirm the commitments the day before. (Again, connect and/or context should be included in the call).

9:55: Follow up on those who didn't show up, find out what happened. Get them to commit to something else. Learn if there were problems (such as bad directions, etc.) that prevented them from coming.

9:58: Be careful of an over-ask. Don't overwhelm the shaky commitment by asking them for too much more than what they've already committed to.

9:59: You need one person to be the contact/person in charge of volunteers. Don't do it by committee. This person should always have something for volunteers to do.

10:01: One hour of volunteer work is worth $36 according to non-profit studies.

10:01: The first experience is crucial for both keeping the volunteer and for getting them to talk to other people about the campaign in the future.

10:03: You need a volunteer database that includes information such as: Who, contact info, skills, when they're available, memberships in organizations (who do they know?), etc.

10:08: Be creative in recognizing your best volunteers.

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