Collaborative Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Initiative

Organization Sponsor: Stratford Meals on Wheels and Neighbourly Services

Program Description

When the International Plowing Match returned to Perth County, Ontario, for the first time in nearly 20 years, four local meals on wheels/community support agencies decided it would be fertile ground to raise awareness and recruit volunteers.

So Stratford Meals on Wheels and Neighbourly Services, Milverton Community Outreach, Mitchell and Area Community Outreach and the St. Mary’s and Area Home Support Services shared a booth throughout the five-day show, which attracted more than 100,000 visitors in September of 2005.

The booth at the plowing match was just one component of a short-term collaborative project to design, implement and track a collaboration volunteer recruitment and retention plan for the four agencies.

All agencies and a total of 2,020 volunteers will benefit from retention assessment and planning. The initiative Coordinator visited all four partner sites to assess current volunteer program environment and needs. In addition, the Coordinator held a collaborative meeting with this group to brainstorm and share best practices.

Agencies and clients will benefit from an estimated 10 per cent increase in volunteer recruitment, providing a larger volunteer base to deliver services. All partners were impressed with the quality of the collaborative brochure and poster and materials at the plowing match included a collaborative magnet that was distributed.

A collaborative newspaper ad was also commissioned during Community Support Month (October 2005) and wording was provided to submit to church bulletins. A volunteer information night was held at each partner location but was not well attended. Letters were sent to individuals who provided their names from the plowing match. Recruitment results will take several months to tabulate as there is always immediate and delayed responses to recruitment messages.

All partners thought the collaborative recruitment was still very valuable and would consider future collaborations. Each partner received a final report from the Project Coordinator that includes a list of best practices, ads/materials for future use, new ideas and volunteer retention suggestions for future reference.

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