Book Review: 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers: A Complete Guide for Non-Profit Organizations

365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your VolunteersHad I read Sunny Fader’s book, 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers: A Complete Guide for Non-Profit Organizations, when I started my Civil Air Patrol career, I am confident that I would have done many things differently. This is a useful book containing countless strategies for recruiting, retaining, motivating, and rewarding volunteers in a non-profit setting. If you work for a nonprofit organization that interacts with volunteers, you should pick up a copy of this book.

365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers has two parts. The first part focuses on recruiting and the second part focuses on retention. Fader addressed these two parts with 312 pages and 14 chapters:

Part 1: Recruiting

  • Before you begin Recruiting
  • Putting your house in order
  • creating your recruitment package
  • Launching your recruitment campaign
  • The medium and the message
  • Bringing new volunteers on board

Part 2: Retaining and motivating volunteers

  • In search of long-term volunteer commitment
  • Volunteer and staff relations
  • Creating a volunteer-friendly environment
  • Setting your volunteers up to succeed
  • Empowering volunteers
  • When problems arise
  • Understanding and successfully using motivation
  • Volunteers and fundraising

The book also included an introduction, final thoughts, an appendix on branding, and a sizable bibliography.

This book focused on recruiting volunteers for organizations that need volunteers on an occasional basis. It is very much different from organizations like the Civil Air Patrol and 4-H, that have a membership roster of volunteers. With that said, the strategies that Fader included in her book will help any organization working with volunteers.

The chapters contain sections that include many questions you should consider as you’re working through various phases of the volunteer process. For example, the first chapter focused on volunteer needs. In this chapter, Fader encourages you to conduct a needs analysis, assess your logistics for supporting volunteers as well as recruiting them, and review personnel needed to support volunteers. Among other things, she provided guidance for writing a volunteer policy guide along with a recruiting budget.

Fader shared a wealth of information about creating systems and checklists to help get the most out of a volunteer program. For example, there is a checklist for the interview process as you’re bringing on a new volunteer. There are examples of records you should be keeping. She also included examples of recruiting materials you should consider.

In the retention section, she stressed the importance of communication between the full-time staff and the volunteers. One of the key points I took away was that your volunteers are not hired help. You should treat them better than employees.In my experience, we don’t. Fader does a good job of explaining why she feels this way and why it’s important to take care of your volunteers.

Throughout the book, Fader weaved in case studies from many organizations to include the Red Cross, aging services, and many other organizations. These case studies provided examples of how these organizations applied various concepts.

If you are taking part in a non-profit organization and work with volunteers, I recommend you read 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers. If you feel that you are struggling to recruit and keep your volunteers, 365 Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining, Motivating and Rewarding Your Volunteers will provide you with ideas to improve your situation. Having worked with many organizations that work with volunteers, I grasp the usefulness of these ideas. My only regret is I did not see this book sooner.