Relay For Life University

Week 3 | Recruiting & Retaining Volunteers

Volunteerism - Recruit, Engage, Retain

Alright, this week is all about getting out into the community and practicing recruiting volunteers. Last week you heard a bit about the importance of volunteers to the organization and to Relay. Every Relay For Life has the same foundation, but we must learn how our volunteers operate in their different communities. We do this by learning about our communities demographics and putting together a community profile. This week we will also learn specific recruitment tools, and practice some community time recruitment pitches.

What you will focus on for Week 3...

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What is a Community Safari?

The Community Safari is all about getting to know your RFL from both a logistics standpoint as well as understanding the culture of a given community. At the end of a successful Community Safari, we want staff to communicate their findings and feel deeply oriented to a given community or portfolio. We want you to spend time researching and observing things like:

  • How do I navigate to and within my portfolio and the communities therein?
  • What and where are key locations in my portfolio?
  • Who are the key volunteers that I need to meet and what is the culture of their community like?
  • What are key areas for leadership volunteer recruitment?
  • What are the values and culture of a given community in my territory?


You will be assigned your Community Safari project documents through Society Pathways or you can download them here through Relay Nation.

Working in Your Territory

An important part of the job of the staff partner is spending quality time in their Relay community. What does quality time mean? It’s all about relationships. Cultivating current constituents in order to keep them engaged with the American Cancer Society, recruiting new people to join in the fight against cancer as well as educating others in the programs and services available through ACS are all aspects of quality time in the community.

When it comes to recruitment, your primary purpose is to find those that have been touched by the issue of cancer (personally, family member, friend, co-worker, etc.) and let them know of the opportunities to become involved in the fight against cancer. Spending full days in the community make the most of your time. Plan ahead, schedule meetings before you go and be sure to create a plan for your day. Showing up in the community without a plan can lead to getting stuck and wandering without a purpose.

Plan Ahead

  • Set up 2-3 appointments ( ie: Mayor’s office, committee members, civic club leaders, corporate sponsors, local pastors, business leaders, team captains, etc.)
  • Set a of goal of setting up 2 group recruitment presentations
  • Make list of places to stop for drop in visits and determine your objective. Determine if your visit is to ask for something, say thank you, or build your relationship (or all three)?

Decide who will participate in the community day
  • Go alone – the community gets to know you. You are building the relationship
  • Another ACS Staff – for feedback or guidance , may have contacts, help open doors
  • A volunteer – knows the community, help open doors, builds your relationship with that volunteer , establishes ownership of the events recruitment efforts

Create A Plan For the Day

Recruit Committee Members:
  • Every time you’re out in the community is an opportunity to talent scout
  • Work with your volunteers to determine a list of potential talent. Make appointments with or drop in on these people.

Recruit Corporate Sponsors:
  • Work with your sponsorship chair to target sponsors that need a personal follow-up visit to secure their sponsorship or drop off new packets to potential sponsors

Recruit Potential Teams

  • Visit Banks ,churches, businesses, fitness centers, schools, and other worksites
  • People spend most of their time at work. Making appointments or dropping in during business hours is the best way to connect with community members. This is a great way to find committee members, teams, and sponsors.

Cultivate Existing Volunteers
  • Make a list of your Top 10 Teams and drop in on the Team Captain and thank them
  • Make a list of your Top 10 Individual fundraisers and drop in to thank them
  • Make a list of your cash sponsors and drop in to simply say thank you

Distribute Relay Materials:
  • Survivor brochures at all doctors’ offices and other health facilities
  • Luminaria forms at any business in town to have available to the public
  • Relay Brochures at any business in town to have available to the public
  • Posters at any business in town to have available to the public
  • Schedule of Events at any business in town to have available to the public

Visit local Newspaper and tier two media outlets
  • Pick up the local newspaper as it can be a great resource of new contacts and information on meeting times, community calendars, etc.
  • Work with your promotions chair and other volunteers to determine if the time is right for a press release or Relay focused news story. Stop in and chat with the staff in person about your promotions plan

Visit local Chamber Office (even if you are not a member)
  • Ask for a new member list (beware that some list cost money to get…)
  • Ask what is the best way to network if you are members
  • Pick up local business cards to get contact names for businesses
  • Pick up local brochures that might give you new leads


Follow up

  • Be sure to get a business card or contact information from everyone you meet.
  • Thank all new contacts and those you had appointments with during your field day

Typical Day In the Community