3 Best Ways to Recruit Volunteers and Grow Your Life Plan Community’s Network
Chances are, if you’re working within a life plan community, you’re leaning on the efforts of volunteers. While that’s especially useful given today’s industry-wide staffing shortage, it’s an evergreen strategy that takes work off staff members’ plates and ensures residents receive the highest level of care.
But recognizing the value of retirement community volunteers and solidifying a recruitment strategy are two different things. So here are three ways to help you grow your life plan community’s volunteer network.
1. Promote Volunteer Opportunities by Inviting Neighbors to Select Activities
If you need help running community events, then what better way to advertise volunteer opportunities than by inviting members of your network to attend those events? This strategy works because it…
- Cultivates excitement. If you’re organizing, say, a book signing event with a local author, that’s something people in your area will likely want to attend. And if you display a volunteer sign-up sheet at the event – or better yet, get the author to mention the value of your volunteers – you can channel people’s excitement into sign-ups.
- Builds relationships between your life plan community and the people orbiting it. Even if most of the attendees from your book signing event don’t fill out volunteer forms, you’re still conducting important outreach with your greater community. This way, at future events, you might draw a bigger – or more invested – crowd. And that can lead to better volunteer recruitment.
- Highlights the important roles volunteers play. In the abstract, it’s easy for people to misunderstand what jobs they’d perform as a volunteer at your life plan community. So when you host activities that use volunteers, you’re demonstrating important roles volunteers play in your community, whether it’s assisting residents or setting up posters and snack tables.
If there’s a broad takeaway here, it’s this: you’re not just collecting signatures. You’re building connections. These public events show why your community is more than a great place to live; it’s also a great place to work.
2. Partner with Local High Schools and Colleges
One of the best ways to recruit retirement community volunteers is by tapping into the high schools and colleges in your area. Many high schools have volunteer requirements for students to graduate, and various college programs and organizations also make community service a requirement for members.
But those aren’t the only reasons you should consider partnering with these educational institutions. Studies also show that intergenerational relationships benefit the health and wellness of older adults. Of note, these relationships were particularly valuable during community lockdowns, as older adults contended with social isolation.
Establishing partnerships with local high schools and colleges can also help your life plan community build its own staffing pipeline. So when it comes time to hire full-time employees, you can notify the pool of volunteers already familiar with your community. Not only that, but because these volunteers build relationships with residents and fellow team members, they’ll likely be more apt to apply for open roles as they come up.
Florida-based continuing care community Westminster Oaks adopted a similar approach to great effect, partnering with nearby high schools and Florida State University to staff entry-level positions.
Regardless of hiring surges or downturns, retirement community volunteers are a key support system for many life plan communities.
3. Coordinate with Religious Institutions That Your Residents Attend
The network of a life plan community can stretch incredibly wide. Just at its baseline, a network includes residents, families, and staff members. Look to the periphery of that network and you start to see additional opportunities for expansion. One such opportunity? Coordinating with the houses of worship your residents attend.
Many places of worship organize their own volunteer efforts, with congregations eager to lend a hand. Reach out to them. This process doesn’t have to be elaborate. It could be as simple as tacking volunteer sign-up sheets on a corkboard in a lobby. Or it could involve coordinating with religious leaders to have your volunteer opportunities included in service bulletins.
A reason this outreach strategy works is because your life plan community has a footprint there already – the residents who attend these places of worship. And while a congregation functions as its own community, its goals – to ensure members are fulfilled physically, mentally, and spiritually – overlap with your community’s. In other words, houses of worship have a vested interest in helping you care for your residents.
Managing a Volunteer Base Is Easier with the Right Senior Living Technology
Volunteer recruitment is a year-round priority. But it’s just the first step in supporting community operations. Once you have volunteers, you need to manage their efforts – and time – effectively. To do that, you need the right systems in place.
This is where senior living technology, like a bi-directional communication tool, delivers its value. For instance, with a bi-directional communication tool, you can send shift updates directly to volunteers via text, phone call, or email. That means you can quickly fill gaps as they come up.
And platforms like our Calendar Central enable you to create, update, broadcast, and check attendance for every event you host. The result: staff reduces the time they spend on calendar management by 80 percent.
Interested in learning more about how senior living technology can enhance your community’s programming and simplify volunteer coordination? Reach out to us here!