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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Campaigns and Orgs: Have Effective Ways to Handle New Volunteers

New volunteers are a great source of talent and work. They add new personalities and momentum to a campaign. But many campaigns misuse them and, as a result, they often stop coming in or leave.

Let's go through a few effective things to do with volunteers:

1. Don't give them "bitchwork" - things that no one else around the office wants to do.
2. Don't give them menial tasks - things like letter stuffing
3. Don't test them to see if they'll do hard work, asking them to clean the bathroom
4. Get them involved, make their work seem important
5. Show them why their efforts can make a difference, how their action will get more votes
6. Keep a spirit of idealism, and don't project cynicism
7. Even unpaid people should be treated well, free volunteers aren't worthless, they're priceless
8. Have them learn a valuable skill: teach them basics of fundraising, or how to do graphic design
9. Value their time, with real dollars: keep track of how much time they've invested in the campaign as though each hour were worth at least $10, and treat them as a donor. If someone donates 40 hours, treat them like you would someone who just donated $400.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but many campaigns violate these basic concepts. Treat volunteers well, find opportunities for mutual win, and you'll recruit more people and retain even more. 

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