Setting expectations with potential volunteers

The important element of this stage is to be open and honest about expectations and interests. This is the ‘dating’ stage of the Volunteer Journey. Both parties need to decide if AFS is a good fit. Investment for both sides is minimal up to this point – limited time, effort and resources have been spent. For good or bad, it is still easy to walk away.

The Invitation should be a relatively formal conversation that brings the opportunity to ask more personalized and in-depth questions about career paths, time commitments, development & training opportunities.

Remember: The goal of this stage is to gather enough information to be able to make a decision about continuing to the Commitment stage or discontinuing the interaction.  To achieve this, communication must be open and honest!

A great video to get you thinking about describing roles and responsibilities of your volunteers:

Steps to Consider

Develop plans and techniques that will make sure expectations are set and questions acknowledged from the start.  Make sure you consider the following elements:

  • What are AFS’s expectations for volunteers: At a Network level? National level? Local level? Are they aligned? Are there gaps?
  • What needs does your chapter have? How have these needs traditionally been met? How can you present these needs to potential volunteers, to see if they have skills and/or knowledge to contribute (in traditional or novel ways)?
  • How can you incorporate the following five characteristics to increase satisfaction and motivation? Below are some examples:

Voices from the Network

About the first face-to-face meeting, we asked the AFS Network: in your opinion, what could be the possible guiding questions for this meeting? Below are some of the answers we got:

AFS Argentina

“Volunteer interview to both introduce volunteer opportunities and learn from the interested volunteer what their interests are. Establish expectations for both parties – organize a group meeting or gathering around similar interests with other volunteers.”

AFS New Zealand

“We do a phone interview where we seek to find out why the person is interested in AFS, explain the induction process and give plenty of space for questions that volunteers might have. We collect this information and ideally seek to match these expectations with tasks.”

AFS Austria

“Include questions to know if they are seeking for long term volunteering opportunities or maybe has periods where they would like to volunteer a large amount of time (vacations for example). Once everyone is clear about this, staff and other vols can clearly communicate the tasks that fit with the new volunteer.”

AFS Turkey

“It is important to explain what AFS really is, how it operates nationally and locally. Many times volunteer candidates just do not have many ideas about the basics.”

The following Stages of Engagement:

  1. Commitment

  2. Induction