Understand Your Organization's History, Culture, and Cause

Before going out into the community to recruit volunteers:

  • understand your organization's history of volunteer involvement

How have volunteers been used in the past? Which programs were successful and which were not? With what groups has your organization collaborated? What was the outcome? Which staff members have been involved with the organization's volunteer program? How did they feel about that experience? How have volunteers felt about their experiences with the organization? Have volunteer evaluations been consistent over time?

  • make sure you are aware of public perceptions of your organization, program or cause

What sort of publicity - good or bad - has your organization or its cause received that might impact your recruitment effort? Understand the issues involved and be prepared to provide an informed and constructive response.

  • understand your organization's mission and programs

Can you speak knowledgeably about your organization's mission and/or cause? Do you feel comfortable talking about the organization's programs and initiatives and how they help to accomplish the organization's mission? Can you articulate how volunteers and the work they will be/are performing contributes to the organization's mission?

  • know your organization's culture and work environment

Are there clear boundaries and chains of command? Is the workplace open and friendly to newcomers, volunteers and visitors? Does the organization value process, product or a combination of the two? Is the general office demeanor serious or is humor widely employed? Do staff members feel that their positions are stable or insecure? Would you recommend every office/team setting to friends that are interested in volunteering? Why or why not?


Your organization's culture greatly influences the type of volunteer positions you will develop, the type of individuals you recruit and the way volunteer supervision will be handled. If your organization is hierarchical, for example, you will want to recruit individuals who are comfortable following policies and procedures. If your organization is loosely organized and values entrepreneurial ideas, you will want to recruit individuals who are self-starters and comfortable working with less structure and supervision.

Is Your Workplace Hierarchical? Questions To Ask Yourself:

  • How many rules and regulations must be followed?
  • Is there a policy and procedures book and if so, how big is it?
  • Is there an organization chart and is it very prominent?
  • What needs to get done to get approval of new programs? (a paper trail, a phone call or your "o.k.")
  • Who give assignments? One person or everyone?

TIP: Listen for "I's" and "We's" and the use of names with tasks. This can help you to determine workplace boundaries and lines of responsibility.