First I just want to say a HUGE thanks to my volunteers both past and present! It is amazing what a little bit of coordination and a whole lot of volunteers can do. INALJ, the daily jobs digest, is much more robust than even a few short months ago due in no small part to the efforts of over sixty volunteers and myself.
I have found my volunteers in several ways:
I have a range of positions from Assistant Editors who cover the major jobs websites three times a week, to Senior Volunteers who cover and format 3-5 days a week, to regular Volunteers who send forwards from listservs and format jobs twice a week, to the fabulous De-duplicators. The time commitment varies so that a wide range of volunteers can participate. I have been woefully un-timely about getting back to potential volunteers but hope this habit of mine turns around soon when my Associate Editor, Intern starts next week :)
One thing I have noticed is that I rarely get people asking how they can help, rather I tend to get people saying “this is what I am good at” or “look what I did/can do for you.” Which to me is a fascinating phenomena since the emphasis is not on asking but telling. What is fascinating is that when seeking out a volunteer gig the expectation is the opposite of what we do when we apply for jobs where we are expected to tell and show versus ask. In this respect volunteering is very different from applying for a job.
What I am hoping to get across to potential volunteers for any organization is one thing: ask what you can do for the organization first. Start with, “I would love to volunteer and I am curious if you have any special needs or requirements” versus “I would love to be your new webmaster.” Part of the reason is that, in my case, I am learning to be my own webmaster, do my own coding, learning about email hosting options, build my own database- basically INALJ is allowing me to learn new skills. What I need help with is finding jobs from new sources and formatting the jobs so I give all new volunteers several choices. We already cover many listservs and websites so we try and avoid duplication of work when possible. So at any one time what I need might be different.
Once again a huge thanks to all my volunteers and I hope this brief article helps in a small way when you apply for a volunteer gig!
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