Helping new volunteers feel they belong

It is finally time for the new volunteer to meet their local chapter! The guiding word for this step is inclusion, as the purpose  is to help the new volunteer feel they belong.

This initial introduction to the local chapter should be in an informal social environment that allows for conversationgetting to know each other, and general relationship building. Attending an AFS host family gathering or a social event can be great moment for them to know their fellow volunteers. Avoid making a person’s first official contact be at a chapter meeting or other structured activity like an informational night.

The next part of thIs stage is to provide the new volunteer with a buddy or mentor who will help them navigate the AFS culture. They will help them integrate into the chapter by explaining the primary elements of AFS’s organizational culture. A buddy/mentor should be someone who has been with AFS for several years and can be an effective cultural informant. If possible, match the motivational profile of the new volunteer and their mentor.

Check out the below video of a Ms. Hala, a core volunteer from AFS Egypt talk about the Induction Stage:

Steps to Consider

To truly create a feeling of belonging with the group, make sure to consider these aspects:

  • Thinking of the context of your own organization, can you imagine what a fun, inclusive and engaging initial social interaction for new volunteers would look like?
  • What social activities does your local chapter engage in? How often are these activities? Do you have something at least once a month that would be appropriate as an induction activity for a new volunteer?
  • How do you currently introduce new volunteers and new host families to the local chapter? How do people feel about these activities? Do they help them to immediately feel a part of the organization?
  • What type of induction activities might each motivation profile prefer? Below are some possible examples:

Voices from the Network

What would you need to implement an effective Induction stage in your organization?

AFS Paraguay

An effective Induction stage would be possible if we suggest local chapters to organize or schedule this activity for their new volunteers. Maybe it’d be good to challenge the different chapters in organizing the most creative induction for new volunteers.”

AFS Brazil

“Create a step-by-step manual which chapters could use to make the induction phase more effective. Also, provide training about recruiting and inducting volunteers.”

Learn about the second stage of the Volunteer Journey:

  1. Participation