Want more Eden Prairie volunteers? ‘Pull a Henry’

Here’s the secret to successfully attracting and nurturing volunteers or new club members, according to author Jill Fox: “Pull a Henry.”

The “Henry” in this case refers to Henry Ford, the Ford Motor Co. founder who is credited with developing the assembly-line technique of mass production – in his case, producing automobiles.

You don’t need to know much about cars to be great at recruiting and developing volunteers. But like Henry Ford you need to have a system, an “infrastructure,” says Fox. And, you need to be successful with all of the necessary steps, which are:

  • Recruit
  • Train
  • Build the Team
  • Appreciate/Celebrate
  • Empower

These are steps that Fox shared April 27 with leaders of local nonprofits and civic organizations as part of The GIVE Gathering volunteer fair and volunteer-management training held by the Foundation and Eden Prairie Schools’ Community Education.

About 100 people attended this first-time event, where more than two dozen clubs and nonprofits shared volunteer opportunities with the public. During the evening event, about 18 leaders gathered with Fox in a classroom to learn the “best practices” of attracting and developing new people – either nonprofit volunteers or new club members.

In addition to growing Wooddale Church’s army of volunteers while there, Fox has also co-authored two books on volunteering. Now a pastor at Westwood Community Church, she also serves as a consultant to churches and other organizations looking to build their volunteer programs.

Among the other nuggets of advice shared April 27 by Fox:

  • “You get the best volunteers from who you know.” In other words, tap your networks for people who have interests like yours.
  • Tell your organization’s impactful stories of success in order to get people interested.
  • Shadow your new people through training or orientation – and beyond – to make sure they’re comfortable in their new roles.
  • Know each new person’s skills and strengths, and match them to projects accordingly.
  • Celebrate the accomplishments of your newest people, and let them know they’re appreciated. They’re more likely to stick around.
  • Finally, use your new volunteers and club members to work yourself out of a job … the best leaders do!

The Foundation is proud to have played a part in organizing The GIVE Gathering, and we thank Jenni Ebert and Julie Menk of Community Education for helping make it happen.

Watch for another GIVE Gathering in 2018!

Mark Weber About the Author Mark Weber has been the executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation since October 2013. In this role, he enjoys meeting with Eden Prairie residents, and being an active member of the community. If you’d like to connect with Mark, call him at (952) 949-8499 or email him. You can also read Mark’s full biography.

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