Over the course of the 2019/20 academic year the LSE Volunteer Centre be inviting around 100 charities on to campus to recruit students volunteers and many more organisations will be heading to universities across the country trying to sign students up to their causes. We spoke to representatives across the Student Volunteering Network to see what top tips we could give to organisations to ensure their time doing face-to-face recruitment is a success.
1. Don’t be shy
We see a lot of organisations at fairs or other stalls on campus sitting behind their desks, playing on their phones and then wondering why they didn’t get sign ups during the course of the day. Students are busy and have many competing time demands so it’s really important that you get on your feet and approach them. Yes, it can be a bit embarrassing to be ignored or get a ‘not today thanks’ but this is a numbers game so make eye contact and strike up a conversation.
2. Be friendly
It can be intimidating for a student to approach a stand to find out more so make sure you are smiley and appear welcoming. After all this could be the first interaction a potential volunteer has with your charity it’s obviously important to give them a good impression. We understand that you’re likely to give the same information out 100 times during the course of a fair but try to be as enthusiastic and friendly for the 100th time as you were the first.
3. Have some questions ready
Although it’s really important that you give the student relevant information about your charity and roles try to have some questions ready to engage the student and so that you can find out a bit more about them. Here are a few potential ones to break the ice:
- What made you come to the volunteering fair today?
- Have you volunteered before? What did you enjoy about it?
- What are you studying?
- What are you hoping to get from your volunteering role?
4. Make your stall interactive
Volunteering is about changing the world but it’s also about having fun! Make that happen with your stall as well. Interactive games or mini activities that students can do whilst finding out more about your organisation are always popular. If you can’t make your stall interactive at least make it visually interesting so that people want to come over and chat. A table with a few leaflets spread across it doesn’t make the best first impression.
5. Have appropriate representatives in attendance
We know that many charities have stretched resources and it isn’t always possible to invite more than one person to be on a stall but do give it some thought. Some students might have detailed questions about how the charity works or the volunteer journey and having someone relatively senior to answer these questions will be helpful. Other potential volunteers might want to ask a current volunteer, “what’s it really like?” and so if you can bring someone along to give that insight it can be a really successful recruitment strategy; particularly if they’re a current LSE student.
6. Know your audience
Do you know what the top volunteering motivators are for LSE students? Or how often they are likely to volunteer? Or what causes were popular amongst students last year? Luckily we have these answers for you, but it’s worth doing some extra research before attending any event on campus. What courses are run at the specific university you’re heading to? What type of professions are the students looking to move in to? Knowing these things will help you stand out and students will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to try to get to know them.
7. Think about what you can offer students
Obviously you’re looking to recruit volunteers to help your organisation but we know that volunteering is a two way street and the student will want to develop themselves as well. Having a clear offer, whether that’s professional development, gaining new skills or a chance to make new friends, will encourage students to get involved in your organisation.
Some may class this as bribery but sweets or branded key-rings are always a winner. It will encourage students to approach your stall and give them a little reminder that they spoke to you. Plus, you can always snack on them throughout the day as well.
9. Add your opportunities to the vacancy board
Students at LSE will research organisations that are going to be at fairs or Charity Tuesdays before they attend and they’ll look to see what opportunities are listed on CareerHub. Make sure your opportunities are uploaded at least one week before you come on to campus so that students know what it is you’re offering. They’ll also look there afterwards if they’ve had a good conversation with you and wish to apply to your roles.
10. Get in touch after the event
Many organisations will look to get the email addresses of students so they can contact them after the event. If you’ve done this make sure you get in contact as soon as you can. Otherwise students might sign up to another charity or may think you aren’t interested in them. A friendly, but succinct email, explaining how to apply should do it. But please don’t bombard them with messages if they don’t reply.
We hope these tips help and we look forward to seeing you on campus over the coming year. If you have any further questions about creating a recruitment strategy please get in contact with with us on firstname.lastname@example.org.