Inspiration Loves Company… Attracting, Inspiring and Retaining Volunteers Teeny Tiny Economic Development Summit Recap (part 1)

The Teeny Tiny Economic Development Summit on October 5th explored the topic of “Inspiration Loves Company… Attracting, Inspiring and Retaining Volunteers” and the important role that volunteers played in the supporting economic development in small places to an audience of 179.    

Trends Impacting Volunteerism

The session kicked off with Heather Keam from the Tamarack Institute sharing factors that have impacted volunteerism: 

  • Changes in family and social structures often result in weaker networks and supports for extra activities. 
  • The change in workforce and how these increased time demands leave less opportunities for volunteering. 
  • The “sweet spot” to secure a volunteer is between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
  • The increasing costs of   volunteering   including travel costs in rural communities or increased costs for memberships in organizations. 
  • Accessing regionalized services require more travel and leave less time and money to volunteer. 
  • With newer technologies people don’t need to leave their home for socializing but it also means people can join virtual meetings which simplifies things like childcare or travel. 
  • COVID has changed our long-term habits.  It has made us think about what we want to continue to do and what we want to stop doing. 
  • Everyone is questioning the way they are doing things, whether it be individuals or organizations.

When thinking about recruiting volunteers Keam talked about the need to think about all those trends and how its impacting communities.  

Tips for Attracting Volunteers

Keam offered suggestions on how to recruit volunteers through a technique called asset-based community development. She described it as having 100 coffees with individuals:

  • To know them
  • To understand what their passions are
  • To understand what they like to do
  • To then find what is available in your community and then connecting these resources together. 

Keam explained once those volunteers are really known to organizations the following connections can take place:

  • Individual to individual
  • Individual to existing associations
  • Individual to newly created association
  • Association to association

The increased connections can benefit volunteerism in the community.

Keam closed by emphasizing the importance of showing volunteers how much they are valued. 

She shared an equation she uses “Belonging = Known + Noticed + Missed.”   When you value volunteers, you make them feel like they really belong, and that they are noticed and missed when they are not there.  To hear all of Keam’s valuable insights on recruiting volunteers, view the webinar at this link. Stay tuned for the next blog that will explore the other topics shared during the “Inspiration Loves Company” Teeny Tiny Economic Development Summit

To register for the How does Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) support community economic development – Teeny Tiny Economic Development Summit” on November 30th, please click this link.

The Rural Ontario Municipal Association and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs partner to deliver Teeny Tiny Economic Development Summits as a forum to discuss scale-appropriate economic development strategies for Ontario’s smallest communities.


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