Welcoming New Volunteers To Your Chapter

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This training offers tips and suggested strategies for bringing new people aboard CCL so that they acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become empowered volunteers.

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People come into CCL’s organization with many different backgrounds and levels of availability to volunteer. It’s important to have one person (or team) that welcomes new members. It’s also important to have some structure to your chapter so that new people can immediately be introduced to the existing members who are doing work of interest to the new volunteer. With some structure to your chapter, the people who welcome new volunteers can refer them to the point person (or team leader) for the activities they are interested in. The point person/team leader can then include the new volunteer in chapter activities by giving them an orientation of what the team does and how they can start to participate. For example, one person (or team) can be the point person for tabling activities, another the point person for dialing campaigns, another for media relations and so on. In short, the welcome team forms the initial relationship with the new volunteer then introduces them to their team(s) of interest.

To learn more about the national onboarding process (via email/texts) see When Someone News Joins CCL training. The information below will help your group get started. For additional support with onboarding and retaining new volunteers, join the Onboarding Action Team in CCL Community.

Designing The Approach That Works Best For You

As with everything in CCL, don’t feel you need to try all of the ideas recommended below. Experiment with what seems most feasible, useful, and timely for your group, and leave the rest. Take one step at a time and remember that your approach doesn’t have to be the same as that of other chapters. Overall, by showing a sincere interest in and support for others, eventually people will come to you as word spreads about your chapter. Remember that all CCL chapters grow one person at a time and all organizing is personal. Have fun!  

The Basic Welcome Process

Below is a general four step outline of what the welcome process might look like for your chapter. 

Step 1:  Receiving a notification when your chapter has a new volunteer:  

  • It's best to contact new volunteers within 1-2 days of when they first join CCL and become a member of your chapter. CCL's national automated onboarding program now sends an update the day after new volunteer(s) joins to group leaders and chapter admins (and those volunteers marked in your Chapter Roster with the “Send GL Reports to Non-GL” privilege). For more information on this report,  see this section of When Someone New Joins CCL training. For more information  Another way to see people who've just joined your chapter is for the group leader, or someone designated in the Chapter Roster as a Chapter Admin, to frequently review the "New Members" tab on your Chapter Roster
  • Whatever way you choose to learn about your new volunteers, we encourage you to make it a standard process in your chapter to contact them quickly.

Step 2:  Reaching out to new volunteers:

  • Reach out to new volunteers within 1-2 days by text, phone, then email. It will likely take multiple tries. The way you choose to make initial contact may depend on your chapter’s resources and how many new volunteers join your chapter each week. One approach that also has worked for CCL chapters is to text your new volunteer first to let them know when you are going to call them (and about what). After the call (or if you aren’t able to connect), a follow-up email has also been helpful.

Step 3:  After making contact: "The Onboarding Call"

  • Once you make contact and set up a time to connect (whether over the phone, Zoom, or in-person), let the new person speak about what they are seeking and how/why they approached CCL. Use the Volunteer Inventory Form to help structure your conversation and capture the new person’s preferences at this point. Make sure to invite them to your next meeting and provide more details on areas in which they’ve expressed curiosity or interest. They likely won’t know much about ways to participate with CCL yet, so your follow-up email can contain more information about this as well. 

Step 4:  Getting them engaged:

  • Moving forward, positive, supportive interactions with new volunteers are crucial for helping start to get them engaged in a way that is meaningful for them and for your chapter. For example, your chapter meetings can include a “Guest Room” - a breakout session for new volunteers where they’ll get an overview of CCL, an overview of your chapter’s activities and start to select which activities interest them. At the end of this session, new volunteers can fill out a survey indicating which activities interest them and you can help connect them afterward with the best point person(s) to get more involved with their interests.
More In-depth Resources

If you’d like to experiment and add additional ways to engage your new volunteers, here is a list of resources and suggestions other chapters have recommended:

  • For more help with how to have new volunteer conversations, check out Volunteer Engagement Resources based on the research of Dr. Adam Levine.
  • Consider including a Google Survey for new volunteers to fill out (from CCL NC Raleigh-Durham)
  • For additional questions, here is a more extended interview format that CCL NY 23rd District uses with their new volunteers as well as some sample talking points to help you prepare.
  • You can also have a Guest Room or New Member breakout session at your local chapter meeting to provide focused space for people to ask questions about CCL or move at their own pace.
  • For more information on how to grow your chapter teams within your group and achieve goals see the Getting Help with the Work and Creating Highly Motivated Teams training pages.
Boosting Engagement Through CCL Community

On CCL Community, nearby volunteers are automatically added to your local chapter roster as soon as they "join" CCL. To help use CCL Community’s features to more easily create an engaging online space for your new volunteers and save time on automated tasks:

  • Set up your Community chapter's Welcome Message to auto-send a general welcome email to all new chapter volunteers with information about your chapter, your preferred contact information, how to get more involved, and the details for your upcoming meeting. 
  • Consider setting up an “Introduce Yourself” forum post where new volunteers can introduce themselves to your chapter in your chapter's forum and then add a link to it in your “About Us” block or Welcome Message to encourage a quick action new volunteers can take right away to feel connected and share more about themselves and why they joined with their larger chapter.
  • For more information on the automated onboarding emails and texts that CCL National sends new volunteers see the When Someone New Joins CCL training.
Ongoing Engagement Ideas

Below are other ideas for engaging new volunteers after their initial welcome.

  • Make it Easy to Connect Within Your Chapter
    • Consider creating a spreadsheet like this example of CCL NY-23’s Chapter Roles Sheet to track who does what in your chapter so that volunteers new to your group see who to contact for specific questions or areas of coverage. Or you could provide a list of chapter connections to help new volunteers connect with veteran members doing the same kind of work. 
  • Connect New Volunteers With Other Mentors 
    • Your group might create a buddy system to pair veteran volunteers with incoming new volunteers. Here’s an example description from CCL Portland. When new volunteers do things with others, they learn quickly and find their volunteering more rewarding. 
    • Ask veteran mentors to check-in with their “buddy” regularly to answer their questions, recommend CCL resources like the weekly live Informational Session and identify the next steps as well as barriers in their involvement.  
    • During your next monthly meeting, invite new volunteers to fully participate, ask questions if needed and interact with members of their preferred action team.
  • Ask For Help
    • People come into CCL waiting to be engaged. Many group leaders have found one of the best ways to engage new volunteers is to ask them to help. If any of your teams or volunteers are feeling overwhelmed, reflect on how you can change the way you are asking others to share the work. In the words of CCL Group Leader Jean Ritok, “in areas where you are struggling, there’s an ‘ask’ missing.”
    • Make it a practice to ask new volunteers to help with the work as soon as possible. Find fun, simple ways to get started by asking for help setting up, cleaning up, writing something, finding something out, bringing snacks, etc.  
    • Get comfortable asking for all of what you need as well, not just part of it. For example, if you need five volunteers, don’t just ask for one volunteer, try “we’re looking for five volunteers. Are you interested in being one?”
    • Try out phrases like: 
      • Would you consider ...? 
      • Have you ever thought of being trained to ... (write a letter to the editor)? 
      • Other ways of phrasing questions that make volunteers comfortable saying yes or no.
    • As group leader, it is also important to be aware of your group’s power dynamics. Model being open to sharing power and decision-making. As you practice asking for help, let new volunteers know that they can be proactive to take on roles that interest them.
  • Creating A Team Wish list and Other Chapter Connections
    • While preparing to meet with incoming volunteers, brainstorm a list of tasks (see CCL NY 23rd District’s example) that your group identifies as important and are looking for others to take on leadership.
    • Once you have a draft, share it with others in your chapter to see what they think should be added or changed to keep the list updated with current priorities and goals.
    • Be bold in your envisioning and don’t get bogged down in feeling your chapter needs to accomplish all these things - it’s a wish list. 
    • Your ongoing wish list can help provide ideas for what projects your new volunteers can help with or get them plugged in right away with ongoing work being done for which they are interested.
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Introductions & Agenda
(from beginning)

Onboarding Overview

Basic Welcome Process

Building Teams and Getting Help

Boost Engagement via CCL Community

Ongoing Engagement Ideas

  • Elli Sparks

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To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Introductions & Agenda
(from beginning)

Onboarding Overview

Basic Welcome Process

Building Teams and Getting Help

Boost Engagement via CCL Community

Ongoing Engagement Ideas

  • Elli Sparks
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Please note: there are many ways to get to know new volunteers and help them become more involved. In our experience, most important is to figure out -- what does the new volunteer really enjoy doing? That’s what’s going to be most sustainable for them, and for your chapter.

How to find out what volunteers enjoy, and empower them to do that? Here’s what works well for us in NY23.

NY23 Model for Onboarding New VolunteersNY23 Model for Onboarding New Volunteers87 KB
Chapter Organizing
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