Marketing Strategies Can Benefit Volunteer Recruitment
3 February 2011 at 1:17 pm
Volunteer-involving-organisations should use marketing strategies to recruit more suitable volunteers according to a Sydney academic.
The suggestion is made in a newly published background paper called The Volunteer Matrix: Positioning and Volunteering by Sydney academic, Dr Debbie Haski-Leventhal, a NAB Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact.
Dr Haski-Leventhal says that in the fierce competition that volunteer-involving-organisations face nowadays over many resources – but particularly over people’s willingness to donate their time for a specific organisation- marketing strategies should be used to recruit more suitable volunteers.
Dr Haski-Leventhal says if the organisation works to improve its ability to recruit volunteers, it needs to correctly identify its target groups, but also understand what the positioning of the organisation is and what type of volunteering roles are being offered.
She says this can be done by using positioning and perceptual mapping, two marketing tools which can be implemented in the volunteering context.
The paper describes ‘Positioning’ as the 'relative competitive comparison' a product occupies in a given market as perceived by the target market audience. In order to make positioning more visual, a perceptual mapping can be used as a graphics technique that attempts to visually display the perceptions of customers or potential customers, usually on a two dimensional matrix.
It says a very common perceptual mapping matrix in commercial marketing will be based on quality of the product versus its price.
In the volunteer matrix, Dr Haski-Leventhal says perceptual mapping can help volunteer organisations deal with the growing competition with other similar organisations in accessing the common-pool resource of volunteering. The volunteer matrix is also based on price and quality.
The price axis moves between high and low costs attached to the volunteering experience (such as time, tangible costs, emotional difficulties, social costs and anxiety, and opportunity costs); while the quality axis (total quality of the volunteering experience) moves from poor to good and includes all the various benefits attached to volunteering (social, warm glow, career, tangible, as well as physical, mental and social well-being).
Dr Debbie Haski-Leventhal says there are practical implications as organisations come to understand which volunteer niche they are in and therefore which potential volunteers to target.
Type A volunteering (e.g. watching board or board members) can be suitable for people with a strong socio-demographic background, those in business and people with many social and financial resources who would like to volunteer with low costs but gain a lot out of this experience.
Type B volunteering (e.g. international volunteering) is more suitable for young and enthusiastic people, with time on their hands and eagerness to learn and contribute. She says that is why such volunteering is particularly popular among Generation Y.
However, she says since the related costs, especially the emotional ones, can be rather high, the organisation should help these volunteers by providing on-going support.
Type C volunteering (e.g. episodical) can attract people with little time but with ability and willingness to volunteer, especially those who are unable or unwilling to undertake a long-term commitment, such as university students or employees.
Type D volunteering (which is a poor quality volunteering experience at a high cost) requires an organisational change rather than a marketing strategy.
She says using the perceptual map could lead to the enhancement and improvement of ongoing volunteer management: from the early stages of recruitment and selection, through training and socialisation, to maintaining and motivating volunteers.
She says that by targeting the right volunteers, time, effort, money and frustration can be avoided, both by the volunteers and by the organisation and this will help the organisation achieve its mission.
The paper can be downloaded at http://www.csi.edu.au/uploads/31642/ufiles/CSI_Background_Paper_No_8_-_Volunteer_matrix.pdf