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Thread: Leader recruitment

  1. #1
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    Leader recruitment

    Any tips, opinions, ideas or views on how best to do it?

    We're at a tipping point - I'm already covering two sections - we need new bod's but seem to be disagreeing in places about how we present it to the general public.

    Thanks in advance.

    Paul.

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    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    Before you try the "general public" have you tried your captive audience.

    I'm certainly not suggesting the "if we don't get parent volunteers we will close" - no one likes to join a sinking ship.

    But.... do you have a waiting list.... could you increase the size of your sections with more volunteers? We always offer priority on the waiting list to the children of parents who get involved as leaders.

    Or... how about a message to parents explaining that with more leaders their kids woud get to do more adventurous stuff? More camps etc because the leader team wouldnt each have to give up so many weekends?

    Do you have a local university? Is there a volunteer office there - or better still a SSAGO unit?

    Does your town have a volunteering centre?

    We also have posters up in the library and local cafes - in reality they only seem to bring in more young people despite being an advertisement for adult roles.

    Are you emphasising flexible volunteering? Could 2 or more leaders job-share rather than having to turn out each week?

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

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    The younger section leaders and most of the committee are parents, it used to be that leaders weren't parents or would be culled from Venture Scouts (as it was...) We think it might be an idea to try and get people in who don't have kids in the group (retirees or the childless-for-now perhaps) - that way we may keep them beyond their kids involvement.

    Member numbers are okay in the younger sections although the Scout section is now suffering for reasons that are partially associated with leader numbers (that's another story...) I think Beavers have a waiting list, not sure about cubs, and Scouts have never had a waiting list. Priority waiting lists is a good idea, although it would only really work with Beavers and so far they're okay for leaders, I can't see parents being persuaded to help at scouts (for example) so their sprog could attend beavers, I assume they'd want to help at beavers...

    I tried to push the adventurous activities card, mostly by saying volunteers/leaders got to do the activities too - but it got poo-poo'd. In terms of getting parents on board with that argument, I think we may have a slight issue with a drop & scoot culture. Basically I think parents who want to help probably already are - its that old chestnut about it being the same people again and again.

    We're a small relatively contained village, we don't run into any other villages or towns, we do get members from nearby villages though. We have no uni or other volunteer infrastructure, (we get plenty of help for one off stuff like jumble sales.)

    I tried to suggest we emphasise the new volunteer options with adult helpers etc, but its awkward because my section (explorers) is actually okay for leaders, its the other sections who are struggling, particularly scouts and cubs - I've been left in little doubt that my input isn't meeting with any approval. They can't seem to get past asking for 'leaders' where-as they could be asking for volunteers - its like going on a first date and being asked about mortgages and kids & when you'll be getting married. Get them in the door before you start laying the heavy stuff on them. We've been doing it this way for ever - in local papers, the church magazine, now on facebook and twitter - its got precisely no new volunteers.

    We're doing a poster campaign in local shops but it seems to me if we're not going to offer all the flexible options and explain how Scouts has modernised a good bit - we're not going to get anywhere.

    I'm covering at Scouts, but only till christmas. We've had one note of interest from a scout's parent who could help, but he travels away frequently - we could do with either a steady rota/jobshare or a number of committed people. The thing is, it can be good fun and rewarding - volunteers don't even have to get into the proper scouty aspect of it if they don't want to - but its being sold as if they do and I think it puts people off - not because they may think its naff, but because it smacks of the dreaded 'commitment'.

    I suppose what I'm asking is, how do you word your PR stuff re. leader recruitment? Does anyone have any insight into what's worked for them?

  4. #4
    The unpaid help ASLChris's Avatar
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    Leaders aren't easy to get. The key sources are parents and former Scouts. Have you tried your local Network? What about former Explorers?
    Chris Hawes, District Media Manager, Watford North Scout District and Watford Scouts; Group Treasurer and Webmaster, 9th North Watford Scout Group.
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    Unfortunately (or fortunately I suppose) ex-explorers mostly go to uni and we have no Network in our district - it never took off.

    We thought we might try and move away from parents because in the past we've found that non-parents stay for longer - the downside is of course is, they're much harder to attract. We had a cub leader who stayed for twelve years - initially he and his wife were planning to adopt and the council said 'get some experience', that was his rationale, he ran a very successful cub section.

    Other parent leaders tend only to stay for the two years their child is in a section - they don't even move on to the next section with them, they just leave. There are people in the village who used to be in scouts, even ex-leaders from a while ago whose kids are now grown - we find though, if we ask if they'd like to come back, we get a knowing smile and shake of the head.

    We need to get Saatchi & Saatchi on to this...

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    Senior Member David Kendall's Avatar
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    We've had a bit of success lately. 2 parents have been persuaded to be Sectional Assistants - prefer that role to Occasional Helper as I think it gives more structure and better expectation of the commitment.

    Our last two Leaders have both been externals - we recruited an ASL via a direct approach to our DC (not sure how he applied) and our latest ACSL came via an advert we placed on Do-it.org

    (https://do-it.org/organisations/1st-...on-scout-group
    In between roles/helping out where I can......

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    I'll have a closer look at the do-it.org site, see if there's any potential with it. We haven't as yet approached the district, its also a possibility so we'll give that a bash.

    Thanks.

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    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    Was in a meeting until 11 last night and couldnt face replying to this when I got home at midnight!

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    The younger section leaders and most of the committee are parents, it used to be that leaders weren't parents or would be culled from Venture Scouts (as it was...) We think it might be an idea to try and get people in who don't have kids in the group (retirees or the childless-for-now perhaps) - that way we may keep them beyond their kids involvement.
    All of this works.... and getting your YLs to stay (if they're not going off to uni) when the turn 18 is really important. As for the ones who go off to uni do you keep in touch with them (ie invite them back to camps during the holidays etc? Even if you don't specifically need the extra help for camp it's a great way to keep them involved in the group and then rope them back in if they move back to the village.

    If of course, as with many villages, you suffer a "drain" of young professionals leaving this could make it harder!

    Member numbers are okay in the younger sections although the Scout section is now suffering for reasons that are partially associated with leader numbers (that's another story...) I think Beavers have a waiting list, not sure about cubs, and Scouts have never had a waiting list. Priority waiting lists is a good idea, although it would only really work with Beavers and so far they're okay for leaders, I can't see parents being persuaded to help at scouts (for example) so their sprog could attend beavers, I assume they'd want to help at beavers...
    Can't see why this wouldn't work at Cubs? i.e. only a space available at Cubs if some parents step up and help?
    Even if you have to apply to that to your current beavers when they are due to move up. Obviously those whose parents are staying behind to continue to run Beavers would get an automatic place.

    Having opened our second Beaver Colony and therefore now have more Beavers moving up than Cub Spaces we made it clear from the day we opened the colony that we couldn't guarantee a cub space any more, and the only way we would be able to offer everyone a cub space is if some parents step foward to open Pack 2. We will be opening shortly with a good team of parents.

    I tried to push the adventurous activities card, mostly by saying volunteers/leaders got to do the activities too - but it got poo-poo'd.
    By who?

    In terms of getting parents on board with that argument, I think we may have a slight issue with a drop & scoot culture. Basically I think parents who want to help probably already are - its that old chestnut about it being the same people again and again.
    That's a common one... but how do you get the others interested? At times a reminder that the group is entirely run by volunteers for the benefit of their children, and that everyone needs to do their bit may be useful?

    We're a small relatively contained village, we don't run into any other villages or towns, we do get members from nearby villages though. We have no uni or other volunteer infrastructure, (we get plenty of help for one off stuff like jumble sales.)
    Do you have posters (on brand, active, fun posters) on every notice board in the village? In the library, the church, the gp surgery?
    Do you have your own hall and, if so, is there potential for some form of large banner / advertising signage?

    I tried to suggest we emphasise the new volunteer options with adult helpers etc, but its awkward because my section (explorers) is actually okay for leaders, its the other sections who are struggling, particularly scouts and cubs - I've been left in little doubt that my input isn't meeting with any approval. They can't seem to get past asking for 'leaders' where-as they could be asking for volunteers - its like going on a first date and being asked about mortgages and kids & when you'll be getting married. Get them in the door before you start laying the heavy stuff on them. We've been doing it this way for ever - in local papers, the church magazine, now on facebook and twitter - its got precisely no new volunteers.
    What is your GSL doing?!

    We always ask for volunteers, or things like "could you join our team". We can then discuss the role (ranging from cleaner to skills instructor to section assistant to leader to group chair) with them over a coffee or a beer.

    We're doing a poster campaign in local shops but it seems to me if we're not going to offer all the flexible options and explain how Scouts has modernised a good bit - we're not going to get anywhere.
    Are the posters modern and on brand? Do they portray a positive message? Or is it "we need leaders"? If you haven't already, take a look at the brand centre for ideas.

    I'm covering at Scouts, but only till christmas. We've had one note of interest from a scout's parent who could help, but he travels away frequently - we could do with either a steady rota/jobshare or a number of committed people. The thing is, it can be good fun and rewarding - volunteers don't even have to get into the proper scouty aspect of it if they don't want to - but its being sold as if they do and I think it puts people off - not because they may think its naff, but because it smacks of the dreaded 'commitment'.

    I suppose what I'm asking is, how do you word your PR stuff re. leader recruitment? Does anyone have any insight into what's worked for them?
    PM me your email address and i'll see if I can send you some of our posters that we've made!

    D

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

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    A lot of questions there, it would have been interesting if someone from outside our group had made those points during our recent meeting. I think part of the problem is, we suffer from a wee bit of option paralysis - insofar as, we all have ideas but tend to get a bit hesitant for fear of offending the scouting sensibilities of others - and some really are quite delicate.

    We've also suffered from having a lack of leadership in terms of our management committee, its meant that leaders have had to step in and sort things like gift aid out - the cub leaders are leaving because of this and the added pressure around compass and the new badge scheme.

    We have more parents on the management committee now - we have someone dealing with gift aid and subs, someone else is going to take over the secretary's job (that has been a bit of a bone of contention.) Recently, we've found that in order to move ineffectual people along, we've basically had to lever them out the door - we find a replacement (hard to do) then at the AGM basically perform a fait accompli. We drop hints, ask for a bit more effort, have 'polite chats' all to no avail - some people are just serial committee members - we essentially very politely sack them.

    In terms of local advertising, I think we miss a trick there - we assume our profile in the village is quite high when perhaps its not. I'll send a PM and get those poster ideas, we put adverts in local publications but realistically - not everyone reads the church magazine... Its been years since we put anything in shop windows or GP surgeries etc.

    Beyond that, efforts to recruit so far have just been bland and uninspiring, it never mentions any of the adventurous activities we do beyond general scouting stuff - ask someone today what the first thing that comes into their mind when you say Scouts - its not going to be any of the cool stuff we get up to; it'll be woggles, the depressing DYB DYB DYB thing or worse.

    PM on its way.

    Thanks.

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    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    In fairness, I think some of this comes from the top down

    Instead of wasting 2m+ on a really useless IT system, the money could perhaps have better been spent on a TV advertising campaign to try and get more adults involved - showing what we really do.

    When the British Red Cross ran a similar advertising campaign (not specifically asking for money or volunteers, just explaining what they did in the UK) it raised awareness hugely and volunteer enquiries almost quadrupled whilst the campaign was running.

    I see a question to Wayne coming up

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

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  13. #11
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    I don't think that there is any single response that will work.

    There is the six step approach.... and there is what actually happens at the end of the line.

    Firstly, people need to know that you exist.
    Then they need to know what you do.
    You need to communicate with them.
    They need to give you feedback.
    They need to want to be part of what you are doing.
    They need to get along with the existing team.
    They need to have a motivation for being there.
    They need to get something back out of what they are doing.
    They need to know that they are supported.
    You need a good website and you need to be responsive to enquiries. (Days not weeks!)
    I am sure there are more key points that go towards attracting people.

    I struggled for maybe 12-14 years and then we hit a critical mass in everything we seemed to do and people just walked in the door. We had 5 BSL, 5 CSL, 4 SL, an ESL , plus a swathe of activity instructors and an Exec. None of them took a great deal of persuasion to come and join the game. Latterly, people with no connection to the Group were voluntering. I cannot hit on any single factor that made that happen.

    The downside is that when we left, most of the Leaders left too, a couple just quit, but most came with us.

    But, there is an interesting outcome. People whom I had chased over the years annd asked to help and who had refusd point blank - are now volunteering to help, and have even taken on Trustee roles. So, sometimes, it may be that the people you already have are the barriers to some people joining.

    Now, that may be that those people just don't like the cut of your jib. And there is not a whole lot you can do about that. But it may be that they see what you do and think - That looks like too much work. Or, I couldn't do that. Or, perhaps you oversell the package. Or, perhaps you undersell it (just helping out with Scouts). Perhaps they see a Group run very much like a business and they don't want to get drawn into that. Perhaps they see a group thet is ineffective and poorly run and equally, they don't want to get drawn into that.

    We, are all, largely, people who jump in and make things happen. Most people will stand on the sidelines until they feel that they have to help.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





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  14. #12
    Senior Member recneps's Avatar
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    You raise an interesting point there Ewan about a group being run too much like a business.

    We do run in quite a businesslike way. We have a basic system of cost-coding for expenses and invoices, we have a number of income streams (e.g. the hall and minibus) which are very much run as a business, we have an office on site which leaders often use outide of their section time to prepare resources, print and photocopy, etc.

    I do sometimes wonder if a downside to this is that it gives the impression that we are a commercial entity rather than a charity, and that our leaders (particularly those who spend several evenings a week doing Scouting stuff) are staff.

    In fairness its the way things are done in this village... the small independent shops opposite us are run in a far less businesslike way than either the Scout Group or the Church (who have a team of paid office staff running the church and the old village junior school which is now a community centre next door to us (we have the old infant school) and two paid youth workers

    We have passed the critical mass when it comes to young people (who are queuing up to join us) which is great. I'd love to get to the point that adults come to join us rather than us hunting them down!

    It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves

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    The unpaid help ASLChris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post

    Now, that may be that those people just don't like the cut of your jib. And there is not a whole lot you can do about that. But it may be that they see what you do and think - That looks like too much work. Or, I couldn't do that. Or, perhaps you oversell the package. Or, perhaps you undersell it (just helping out with Scouts). Perhaps they see a Group run very much like a business and they don't want to get drawn into that. Perhaps they see a group thet is ineffective and poorly run and equally, they don't want to get drawn into that.

    We, are all, largely, people who jump in and make things happen. Most people will stand on the sidelines until they feel that they have to help.
    Or maybe simply the fact that you are doing it means they don't feel the need to.
    Chris Hawes, District Media Manager, Watford North Scout District and Watford Scouts; Group Treasurer and Webmaster, 9th North Watford Scout Group.
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    I think one of the main things that we're afflicted with is a perception of being a bit cliquey. As already said, its no one single thing, but I think the main things might be; there are aspects to scouts that make it seem inaccessible and a wee bit clubby. This is an odd one, but our hall's windows are boarded up (although we're getting new ones soon) it just looks secretive and has done for years and up until quite recently, no one else used our hall (we're renting it out more now.)

    I think though its the people involved and I'd probably have to include myself in this. The village is just big enough to have different groups of people that don't really speak to each other. So you have a group that does church stuff, another that does football, another that does guiding and then the gala crowd - none of them really speak to each other, even the kids don't tend to mix between them. Our clique could be labelled; 'Village Old Hands and Parents Who Have Children in Scouts'. Leaders are either old village hands (like myself, I grew up there so am known although I lived away for long time), parents are, well, parents - they have kids in scouts. I think it's difficult to break in.

    Its almost like a closed shop... Or maybe a better analogy is an ever declining feedback loop... We're also now entering into a bit of a circle of decline (that people aren't keen to admit and accept.) Scout numbers are in decline because leaders are feeling increasingly put upon (and we've talked about the discipline problem before.) That's been due to a massive blurring of responsibilities between leaders and management committee members - mostly going in one direction. For example, we don't have a website at all, I could throw one together easily enough but I'm already leading one section, assisting in another, filling in as chairperson as and when and doing secretarial stuff - so why should I? (Its not just me, all the leaders have been filling in.)

    (Heck, I hope no prospective volunteers read this...)

    What Chris says is also true, we always say ruefully at jumble sales; 'its the same faces...' These are high profile sales we've held annually since year dot, the whole village turns out to either give, rummage or flog on the day - but its always the same people (and a few who try to sneak in to snag quality jumble before anyone else - they get chucked out.)

    I feel that if we managed to recruit a couple of enthusiastic people on to the management committee; a sergeant major-type for a chairperson and a forward thinking tech savvy secretary then everything else would sort itself out. For example, leaders are currently doing the recruitment to replace themselves - which is quite ironic when you think about it; we're having to do more of the stuff we shouldn't be doing because we want get away from doing the stuff we already shouldn't have to do.

    Or something, I know what I mean.

    ;-/

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASLChris View Post
    Or maybe simply the fact that you are doing it means they don't feel the need to.
    That may also be true.

    Why don't I cut the grass on the village green? Well, there are already three people doing that job.

    However... I think that you and I and many on here, if we were not doing scouts (of whatever nature) we would be doing something else.
    Ewan Scott

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