Cost-benefit of volunteer recruitment and engagement

I was thinking about better intentional outreach and clarity around utilizing volunteers at different commitment levels.

A volunteer with only small time commitment might be a net cost if we invest in training time, and yet they end up not contributing much. Such costs are okay if 1 out of 10 volunteers like that become substantial long-term contributors. But being cautious of the costs and targeting our time well is important. Sometimes, the sort of training we do can be effective at helping us focus and process something, in the sense that teaching others helps us reinforce our own work. But maybe we should explicitly aim for that with the expectation of that sort of process.

Of course, a volunteer with less training needs (because they are familiar with the areas or more self-driven etc) is less costly. And we can also do well with the sort who can provide us useful feedback and energy or who brings useful neutral skills like facilitation help.

For those with medium or higher availability, more training and onboarding might be worth the cost. But we should be cautious about how we invest. We have had cases where someone sincerely intended to put in more time but ended up not contributing much and just moving on.

How can we best plan our outreach around these tensions?

I haven’t searched for the best guides or other resources. Any good links?

1 Appreciation

Great thoughts/questions, unfortunately ones I don’t have great answers to. That said, I signed up for a course next quarter which might change that.