Recruiting volunteers for gleaning on the Olympic Peninsula is a test of persistence and creativity. There are no cities here and no big colleges or universities, and overall it is not very densely populated. Yet, there are many ways to spread the word about the opportunity to glean. Try the outreach and recruitment methods used on the Olympic Peninsula:
- Send direct emails to your extension listserv mailing lists for further promotion.
- Post catchy, colorful fliers in high-traffic areas: post offices, community centers, coffee shops, local food coop, and hardware stores.
- Spread the word to already existing groups such as 4-H, Master Gardeners, Food Bank Farm & Gardens, Lion’s Club, Rotary, YMCA, etc.
- Table at events with volunteer sign-up sheets. Have other local service groups share your recruitment message via newsletters, Facebook, and email listservs.
- Have other local service groups share your recruitment message via newsletters, Facebook, and email listservs.
- Ask people in the community about who might be interested in volunteering and then speak with those people face-to-face.
- Team up with projects that already have volunteers for crossover opportunities.
- Request time on the local radio station for promotion.
- Online volunteer sites such as: Craigslist, Idealist.org, and local volunteer listings.
- Outreach via Facebook.
- High school bulletins.
- Promote project to AmeriCorps Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) members
With South County Community Harvest and the Clallam County gleaning project, retaining volunteers has required clear and consistent communication. It has been important for volunteers to feel actively engaged even when there is a lull in gleaning opportunities. This has been accomplished by sending reminder emails about scouting out fruit trees, and asking volunteers to invite their friends, family, and neighbors to volunteer. Personal phone and email exchanges that ask volunteers about their availability creates a relationship where a volunteer feels like they must be helpful to have their schedule be worked around. If a volunteer feels needed it creates a strong sense of purpose and motivates continued volunteer engagement.
Another method used to retain volunteers is genuine gratitude. Appreciation of volunteers has been a retention method. Volunteers with South County Community Harvest are always thanked for their work and involvement in the project. Having “thank you” picnics or celebrations throughout the season or at the end of the season is another way to accomplish this. Sending thank you cards to individual volunteers with personalized messages at the end of the season is also a kind gesture of gratitude that was practiced this year.