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Giving the Gift of Time - Proactive volunteer recruitment

'The line is a dot to you'

For all those Friends fans out there, you may remember the classic quote used by Joey to describe how far Chandler had 'stepped over the line' in one of their exchanges. Chandler had gone so far over the line, that the line was only visible as a dot...

But what does this have to do with proactive volunteer recruitment? Well this analogy works really well when thinking about your comfort zone - and at the moment the line is certainly a dot to me!

Why's that then? Well it's been quite a week...

School talk
It started with a talk on Tuesday morning to 130 Year 12 students at a local school. My aim was to change some of their perceptions of volunteering by focusing on the fashion and retail angle. To make it more engaging, I included a bit of interaction with a The Price is Right-style game. This included a show of hands for whether each clothing item I dosplayed was worth more or less than the previous item.

Have a go yourself and see how you get on with the photos below. You can find the answers at the bottom of this blog.

Price is right - blank

I ended up with 13 students signed up to taster sessions in their local shop, and of these, three have so far been booked in to regularly volunteer.

Join up with Waitrose shops
Next up was a visit to a Waitrose shop to explore how a join-up between them and their local charity shop might work. After all, Waitrose branches have so much specialist knowledge, central teams and resources they can draw on to support a charity shop. The enthusiasm was fantastic, with lots of ideas, from sharing skills in visual merchandising to stands for volunteer recruitment in the Waitrose shops.

Partnership with local art & design college
On Wednesday I met with course leads for visual merchandising and interior design courses at a local college. Here I was keen to understand how volunteering in our shops may fit well with project work or experience they need as part of their course. Again, we discussed many ideas, and the college was keen to build links to give us a pipeline of students each year. Two students who happened to be working next door even signed up to a taster session at our Home store, in Dedworth. They have an interest in retail and visual merchandise, and want to use the volunteering experience to help them build their skills before launching their own business.

Meeting the Mayor
As I sat in the rather grand wood-panelled Mayor's Parlour, I was again heartened by the level of enthusiasm and the ideas that we shared. Thames Hospice is one of the RBWM Mayor's chosen charities of the year, and the Mayor has helped distribute posters and press releases through her connections, to featuring a 'volunteer appeal' article in their magazine, which goes to 60,000 homes in the local area.

Interview with Waitrose internal magazine
In the afternoon, I had an interview with the Waitrose Chronicle, the internal magazine for Waitrose partners. I want to use this to raise awareness of the Hospice and the need for volunteers.

Shop relaunch
To end the week, I attended the Binfield shop relaunch - wearing one of the T-shirts kindly donated by Brunel Promotions to drum up support for volunteering. It was really good to go to, and the team had worked so hard preparing the shop. But it wasn't the best place for volunteer recruitment as customers were more interested in bagging a bargain. Still, now we know!

Binfield relaunch
What do all of these have in common and what have I learnt?

Proactive - the charity relies on you getting out there in the local community, building links and not waiting for people to come to you
Perseverance - when I first got in touch with local groups and organisations, I didn't always hear back
Multi-pronged approach - surprise surprise, we won't find all our volunteers in one place. It's a big commitment for people to give up their precious time. Instead, many different routes are needed and some creativity to appeal to different motivations.

Answers...

Price is right - answers
You can read more from Marianne over the coming months, or via her website here. Why not follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+ while you're at it?

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