ISOTURE #1: Identifying Volunteers

It must be a Monday because I was having a really difficult time crafting  a clever title for this blog post.  🙂

Over the next six or so weeks, we will be focusing on the ISOTURE model of volunteer development and management.  While it is not the ONLY such volunteer model, it is one prevalent in 4-H Youth Development programs.

The ISOTURE model breaks down successful volunteer management into seven components:

I- Identification
S- Selection & Screening
O- Orientation
T- Training
U- Utilization
R- Recognition
E- Evaluation

In this week’s edition we will focus on Identification.

Identification is the process of finding the right people to do the right jobs in your program.  What happens if you put out a cold call in your local media for general “volunteers”?  What do you get?  You get very general volunteers… some of which may prove to be useful for moving forward your program in the ways you deem appropriate, but many who may not (i.e. they have different agendas, different skill sets, etc.).  So what do you do?

The answer lies in doing a little preemptive thinking.  Before going further, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Where do I want to grow my program?  (i.e. Geographically or programmatically).
  • What is eating up a lot of my time, which could be delegated to a volunteer?


  • I have struggled to have a 4-H presence in the X part of our county.  Who do I know that has ties to that community?
  • Social media presence takes up a lot of my time.  Can it be delegated to a teen volunteer?
  • Livestock is “not my thing.”  Do I have a parent who is really passionate about helping young people prepare for the Fair?  Can they become my official Adult Fair Ambassador?

After knowing WHAT you need volunteers to do in your program, you may then find the individuals to fill those roles.  Often word-of-mouth (ask your volunteers who they know) is the best way of finding volunteers for targeted roles.  You can use social media, newspapers, radio, etc. as well but be sure you are recruiting for SPECIFIC types of volunteers (as opposed to just anyone who wants to “help with kids”).

After you have identified a potential volunteer, provide an introduction to 4-H and the particular role.  Be careful not to overwhelm!  Think about volunteer recruitment like dating.  If you ask them to marry you on the first date, chances are they will run away screaming (or they are not who you want).  If they confirm they are interested and want to pursue volunteering with 4-H further the next step is SELECTION and SCREENING (next week’s topic).

For more information on identifying volunteers check out:  Florida 4-H: Identifying Volunteers


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