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Nonprofits provided with advice on using website as recruitment tool

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Area nonprofit agencies have had a similar, growing problem throughout the past few years: the recruitment of new volunteers has been difficult.

Until now.

During a volunteer recruitment and database development seminar Tuesday at the Ramada Inn, 6300 Arsenal St., the United Way of Northern New York, the North Country Regional Volunteer Center, the United Way of the Adirondack Region and the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce offered pointers to more than 30 attendees on how the volunteer center’s website can be used to easily recruit — and retain — new blood to local nonprofit agencies.

“It’s almost like a matchmaker website for the agency and volunteer,” said Kathy Snow, director of development for the United Way of the Adirondack Region. “It’s got to be like salt and pepper; they go together.”

To get started, agencies just need to sign up on the website and provide specific information on projects and events where volunteers are needed. Volunteers in search of opportunities can search possibilities by ZIP code.

Mrs. Snow presented the five steps to successful recruitment, a part of the Recruit, Orient, Support, Evaluate and Salute volunteer training curriculum: develop the volunteer position description, identify groups of potential volunteers, create recruitment messages for specific audiences, develop a strategy to communicate the messages to desired groups, and implement the plan.

Making volunteers feel like they’re a part of the workplace, including giving them a specific job title, makes them feel a part of the work environment, she said.

Since June 2011, more than 100 agencies and 5,500 volunteers have used the center’s website.

“One of the things we’re looking at is, we believe we can use this website at Fort Drum,” said Robert D. Gorman, chief executive officer of the United Way of Northern New York. “We believe we’ll now be able to offer a tool to a huge core that know nothing about the north country.”

Mrs. Snow stressed the importance of the volunteer description because organizations can’t assume that everyone is aware of what their agencies do. Once people learn about an agency, and become involved, she said, they tend to tell their friends and family, and even more volunteers may come from that.

For more information, visit www.northcountryvolunteer.org.

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