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Finding good volunteers is one of the most important parts of running a successful CETF. Without people to do the work, all your good ideas could go to waste. It is important to understand what motivates people to volunteer and how to use that motivation to get them excited about working with you.

Where to look:

  • Start with signup sheets from your events (which should be standard practice)
  • Consider your existing members’ social and professional networks – they are a source of kindred spirits and of valuable diversity
  • Spread the word through community organizations – this will build your group’s connections throughout the community.
  • Think about people you know with specific skills, from financial management to visual arts
  • Post invitations widely on social media, radio and news releases.
  • Talk with motivated people at your very next event!
  • Aim high – don’t assume that high-powered, very talented people are off-limits.

In communicating with potential volunteers, consider all the reasons why a person would want to get involved in a Clean Energy Task Force, including:

- Interest in improving the town

- Interest in meeting new people with similar interests

- Interest in a particular town institution such as the school their child attends

- Want to gain competitive edge for the town

- Concerned about health and environmental impacts of fossil fuels

- Concerned about the high price of energy

- Career interest in the field.

Invite promising people to one of your events to show the kind of thing you can accomplish, and let them mix it up with the existing members. When the relationship has begun to gel, that’s the time to let them know what a valuable role they could play and invite them to your next meeting to check it out further.

Keep in mind the differences that you may need to bridge to engage talented volunteers, such as age differences, culture, geographic distance, lack of information, incorrect information. Be prepared by anticipating potential concerns, such as time commitment, need to have technical expertise, and scheduling issues. Be prepared to clarify and negotiate expectations, and to problem-solve. The potential member who has heavy child care needs might be able to volunteer on graphic design or mailing list management from home, and help to create some child-friendly educational events from time to time. Focus on your successes, likely opportunities for creative participation, and the benefits that come with getting involved. Whether you are inviting people to become formal members of your group or just to participate in projects, keep it simple, but be passionate – and persistent.

Success Story:

In Bethlehem, Chairman Jack Nelson recruited friends and acquaintances with an interest in clean energy. He knew they would be passionate and dedicated to the CETF since they showed prior interest in clean energy. The Bethlehem chair also recruited a current member at the town “Energy Fair.” He saw someone who was asking a lot of questions and invited him to attend a meeting; that stranger soon become a member. Finally, Jack recruited from other town organizations with similar goals, such as the Conservation Commission. This increased connection of the Task Force to related local government groups as well as creating access to members with a relevant knowledge base.

There is a tricky balance to keep in mind when managing volunteers. On one hand, your activities have to have a professional quality and be well executed. Unreliable volunteers can be a kiss of death. On the other hand, these people are contributing their time and energy, and need to be respected and supported based on whatever they can do. It helps to orient and guide new folks with small, short-term tasks, or assign new volunteers to work with those who have a longer history with the group. It’s smart to check in on progress frequently. As you gain understanding of your volunteers’ skills, you can build them up by including short training presentations in meetings (e.g. how to write a good press release or event management fundamentals). Consider creating a volunteer coordinator for your group. This position could entail organizing volunteers for events, keeping track of their personal information and availability in a volunteer database and updating the Task Force on volunteer related issues. Having a point-person for volunteers to reach out to will ease communication and assist volunteers in growing comfortable with the organization.

In retaining members and other volunteers, nothing helps more than “the law of five thank-you’s.” The appreciation you show for their commitment, their capabilities, and the unique ways each person contributes to the group will go a long way.

Resources

 

Community Updates

WOODSTOCK’S NEW 1MW SOLAR ARRAY
PROJECTED TO SAVE OVER 2.4 MILLION OVER THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS

Woodstock is currently in the process of installing their 1MW solar array.  The array will be a brownfield installation covering, what once was, their former landfill.  Concrete ballasts will weigh down the panel's framework to prevent any breach of the landfill's membrane... See Press Release

HES COPAY PRICE INCREASE

In the recent approval of the 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management (CL&M) Plan by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), there is good news and not-so-good news... Read More

 

 

Calendar Highlights

FALL GATHERING

HIGHLIGHTS OF CT’s FALL GATHERING of clean energy task forces can be found here in our Knowledge Center’s Program Archives pages. Diane Duva (the Director of Energy Demand at DEEP’s Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy is pictured here) facilitating the shaping of our state’s energy future.

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Clean Energy Communities Listening Session Letter of Thanks and Follow-up

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