Hello All! I’m posting the following comment on behalf of the Mattress Factory Museum’s Visitor Services Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator, Maria Mangano
“We have a form on our website that all prospective volunteers fill out, and I use this to decide who to bring in for an interview to discuss volunteering. The form includes basic contact info, a spot for references, what they’re interested in volunteering for (topic-wise), what their strengths and experience are, whether or not they are students, and what kind of hourly commitment they envision. None of the fields are required, but I rarely get an application that isn’t filled out all the way. I think people generally want to get as much info about themselves out there as they can to show what kind of a volunteer they can be for us. The form really helps me get a quick idea of how an applicant can fit in as a volunteer or if we even have a need for their skills in the first place.
I do keep the applications on file and refer to them before volunteers come in so I can remember details about them, but I also transcribe some of the information over to my address book. That way, when I’m contacting volunteers to fill a specific project, I can more easily target my emails towards people who are interested in a specific department, or who have weekend availability, etc.
I tend to go over things like how we run the program, specific time/effort commitments, and details about their backgrounds if I meet prospective volunteers in person. For us the form functions as a way to decide if a candidate fits a need we have and should be brought in for an interview. So I guess, analyzing that, the forms help me a lot with the initial application processes, and then I refer back to them later as needed, but I rely on other shortcuts for day-to-day skill matching and volunteer calls. I don’t really see a downside to using them other than extra work it might create that you don’t have time to process. I don’t get a lot of one-on-one time with volunteers when they’re here because I also staff the admissions desk, so for me it really helps fill out a more complete picture of who is helping us.
We’re a relatively small museum with about 80 on-and-off volunteers (half of whom I would describe as active). I do all the recruitment, interviewing, and coordinating of volunteers, and it’s about half of my job (the other half being working at the admissions desk). When we plan volunteer socials or open house events I often have other staff help me, so running the program at this scale is not an undue amount of work.
Maria Mangano, Visitor Services Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator”