5 tips for finding and keeping community radio volunteers

5 Tips for Finding & Keeping Volunteers at Your Station

Helen Henry, 12th May 2015

Volunteers are an important part of the community broadcasting sector, with 22,000 individuals across Australian giving time to their local station. Involving volunteers can help you connect with and involve the local community in your station, and their contributions in a huge variety of roles offer invaluable support to community radio stations. 

In collaboration with Volunteering Australia, the CBAA provides these 5 quick tips for finding and keeping volunteers at your station.

1. Make your volunteer roles meaningful 

To engage and keep volunteers on board, you need to ensure that their tasks have some intrinsic value and collectively make up a meaningful volunteer role.

A collection of odd jobs is less likely to arouse the enthusiasm of a potential or existing volunteer than is an identified role in the organisation. In the case of your radio station, this could be presenter, producer, or assistant music director, for example.

2. Actively recruit volunteers

Make sure you have information about how volunteers can get involved at your station readily available. This could include information on your website, social media posts, on air announcements, advertisements in local media or flyers at local events and on community notice boards. Also consider your personal networks. Be sure to post volunteer opportunities on govolunteer.com.au.

Wherever you’re promoting it, keep the message simple and professional, identify specific volunteer roles and be ready to handle enquiries and responses.

3. Hold a volunteer information session

A face-to-face volunteer information session at your station can be a great way to raise the profile of volunteering, share information and answer questions about how people can get involved at your station.

Key things to cover in this session include: What is volunteering? What are the benefits of volunteering? The logistics of being a volunteer at your organisation. For example, tasks involved, hours needed.

Be prepared to answer questions in the session. Check in with current volunteers at your station to get an idea of what questions prospective volunteers might have about your station.

4. Recruit inclusively

One of the community broadcasting sector’s guiding principles is to promote harmony and diversity and contribute to an inclusive, cohesive and culturally diverse Australian community. Involving volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds at your station is an important way that you can uphold this principle.

Volunteers from diverse backgrounds and experiences can bring new perspectives to your station, raise cultural awareness among your staff and volunteers and strengthen your ties with your local community.

To connect with these communities, research your local demographics and local community groups and build relationships with them by connecting with relevant community leaders. Your local council may be able to provide you with demographics.

You can work with community leaders to seek feedback on your volunteer recruitment strategy, reach out to potential volunteers, coordinate information sessions and translate your volunteer information and promotional materials into different language(s).

5. Recognise the contribution of your volunteers 

Volunteer managers should be aware that the way volunteer efforts are recognised is of importance. One type of recognition might be seen as valuable by one volunteer, but not another. To work out how best to recognise your volunteers, consider what motivated them to become involved with your station in the first place. For example, if the volunteer is seeking experience in the hope of pursuing a paid employment opportunity down the track, they may value opportunities to receive training and obtain a certificate formally recognising their new skills, or they may value a referee for their resumé.

Other ways to recognise your volunteers include: giving additional responsibility, including them in special events, taking the time to listen to volunteer ideas and concerns, and allocating noticeboard space to applaud volunteer achievement.

This article was originally published in the April 2015 edition of CBX Magazine. It is shared here as part of National Volunteers Week, 11 - 17 May 2015.

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