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Section 16
Getting Started

Table of Contents

Where do you get volunteers? As mentioned previously, good places to start are…
•           Friends of volunteers
•           Family members who have cared for loved ones
•           Friends of residents with Alzheimer’s disease
•           Visitors and family who attend the special programs offered in the facility
However, let’s assume you have been in your position for a while, and have exhausted not only the above list, but many others as well. List them below,

List below all areas you can think of, besides a volunteer recruitment talk, that you have or might pursue to get volunteers into your facility.

1.                                                       4.                                                             7.

2.                                                       5.                                                              8.

3.                                                       6.                                                              9.

If your number one fear is public speaking, I would suggest you share the above list at your next local activity association meeting, or share it by e-mail or over the phone.  Then ask the other activity director to share with you.  Maybe you can find some real “gem” resources local to your community that will provide a pool of people just “chomping at the bit” to volunteer in your facility.  However, in the real world,  I have never been lucky enough to find that group.  The only exception to my statement would be non-profit facilities who have an active “Women’s Guild”, for example, who are looking for a place to donate their time.  Agree?  For the activity director who hates public speaking, only after having exhausted all other means of recruiting volunteers are they ready to be receptive to information regarding development of a Volunteer Recruitment Talk.

In short, I feel unless you are convinced that you really need to give a Volunteer Recruitment Talk, you will be resistant to the ideas in this course, no matter how good the ideas are.  So is there something else you want to try before you start this course?  If there is, why waste your time resisting?  Just stop now and postpone reading any further until you have tried those other recruitment techniques; or have undergone an attitude adjustment.  By “attitude adjustment” I mean create affirmations to say to yourself that you repeat several times daily.  Here are some examples, “I need to give Volunteer Recruitment Talks.  I will give Volunteer Recruitment Talks.”  And after taking this course, “I now know how to give a great Volunteer Recruitment Talk.”  And finally, “I am giving great Volunteer Recruitment Talks!”

Write you own affirmations to crate a positive, enthusiastic attitude towards giving a Volunteer Recruitment Talk.


So make a choice.  Do you need to try other means to get volunteers into your facility before you are ready to be receptive to information concerning development of a volunteer recruitment talk?  When you are convinced you need to give recruitment talks; and that they are not a waste of your time outside of the facility, then you will be the most receptive to the content of this Course.  Do you want to continue? If so, welcome aboard!  If not, avoid procrastination and write a date on your Activity Desk or Computer Calendar when you will reevaluate your receptiveness in information concerning development of a Volunteer Recruitment Talk.  Next month?  In two months?  If you can be receptive now… let’s get started.  If not, I will talk to you when you are ready in the future. 

A. How to Schedule a Volunteer Talk

Now that you feel a truly need to give a Volunteer Recruitment Talks, you may ask, "Where or how do I schedule a Volunteer Recruitment Talk?”  I find one of the best places to start is with my current volunteers.  Tell them of your need for additional volunteers to assist with your One-to-One and Small Group activities for your Low Functioning and Alzheimer's residents, as well Group Activity needs.  Perhaps mention a few residents with whom you have started activity projects.  By doing this, your current volunteers can relate to your needs.  Then ask them if they belong to any groups that might be looking for a program for their monthly meeting, and might be receptive to hearing a 20 minute Volunteer Recruitment Talk.  Also, don't overlook facility employees who have mentioned being members of clubs, organizations, etc.  Below, list the names of current volunteers and the most opportune time to talk to him or her about other organizations in the community.  I have given you a few examples.

Volunteer or Staff Member

Best Day and Time to talk to them about a group receptive to a talk

Gail Smith

Wednesday at 2:00 when she comes in to assist with Bingo

St. Luke's Church

First Wednesday of month Birthday group, 6:30 pm









Next, contact the Chamber of Commerce.  Sometimes smaller communities have publications that are part of a Welcome Packet to welcome new members to the community.  This publication lists community organizations, clubs, associations, etc.  Next, look online or in the yellow pages for possible leads.  Below write an action plan regarding how you will research groups who might be receptive to hearing your Volunteer Recruitment Talk.
Where to Schedule Talks
•           Local churches, synagogues, men’s and women’s clubs, societies, Sunday school classes
•           Elementary, J.H., High School and their clubs
•           Colleges, and specialty classes (gerontology, health care)
•           Day Care and Preschools
•           Local sororities and fraternities
•           Local garden clubs, Sewing clubs, hobby clubs
•           Girl Scout, Brownies, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, 4-H, etc.
•           Junior League
•           Lions, Elks, Jaycees, Kiwanis, Moose, etc.
•           VFW, VFW Auxiliary, American Legion, American Legion Aux.
•           Community Service Organizations, Clubs, Civic Groups


Phone Number

Best time for my schedule to call

New Comers Group


Tuesday at 1:00
















Prepare for the "Turnover Syndrome"
Challenge number one is… first make sure you are talking to the right person.  Prepare yourself for going through the club hierarchy.  

The second challenge is… officers get re-elected or re-appointed often.  So if you schedule a talk with one person, make sure you are still on the schedule two months later.  Since these are volunteer positions, they sometimes do not operate by the same code of ethics, so-to-speak, as an "employed person."  In short, they may schedule you and their husband is transferred or they move suddenly and forget to tell their predecessor that you are scheduled to give your Volunteer Recruitment Talk at the end-of- the-month meeting.  So I have found in working with clubs, organizations, etc. be prepared for the "Turnover Syndrome."  The "Turnover Syndrome" can also materialize if your organization contact schedules you after their term of office is over, and the new Program Chairperson has scheduled someone else for that meeting. 

The third challenge in scheduling your talk, in addition to working your way through the club or association hierarchy and the "Turn Over Syndrome,"  is getting the phone number of the Program Chair, or whomever it is that is responsible for scheduling you.  Since the positions for the most part are volunteer, it may take a few calls before you get the phone number of the person that will accept the responsibility for scheduling you. 

Insulation against Disappointment
I am telling you about organization turn over, and possible difficulty regarding getting in touch with just the right person, not to discourage you, but actually to insulate you against discouragement.  You see, if you go in with the mind-set that it is going to take three or four calls to various individuals to schedule one talk, your expectation level will be in line with a very possible reality.  Since scheduling your Volunteer Recruitment Talk may take several calls, you obviously need to be organized enough to keep track of who you called first, who you need to call next, when is the best time to call, and so on.  We offer a course called “How to Make Time for Your Low Functioning Alzheimer's Residents,” which provides numerous practical suggestions for “Organizing your Contacts,” if you are multi-tasking challenges like I am.

B. Dress to Impress
After you have scheduled your talk… What’s next?  Well, if you are like me, the next thing that races through my mind as I am writing the date, time, and location in my planner is, "What will I wear?"  Sound familiar?

In my facility, I decided I wanted to wear something that made me look like a staff member.  So I went to a uniform store, and bought a white blazer and a green top that zipped up the front.  I also paid to have a large plastic name tag professionally made that had a black background, with my full name and job title in white lettering. 

Avoid feeling "crummy"
Now you may ask yourself, "What does how I dress have to do with recruiting volunteers?"  Here are my thoughts.  I felt the “uniform-style” tops made me look more professional, and like an official representative of the facility at which I worked.  For example, there was a "Women's Group" that met in the president's home.  Just by the way I was dressed, I believed that she felt comfortable inviting me into her home, which had numerous expensive antiques on display.  So take about 30 seconds and ask yourself, "If I were to give a Volunteer Recruitment Talk what would I wear?"  Here are the key factors I felt were important for me.
1. I had to feel comfortable in what I wore.  I wore pants and not a skirt, because my wide feet are definitely not comfortable in heels.
2. Often times my Volunteer Recruitment Talks were scheduled for mid-afternoon, and I was coming directly from the facility.  Therefore what I wore needed to be something either I was comfortable wearing around disoriented residents or something I could slip into quickly, like the white blazer, which looked like a medical coat.
3. I wanted to feel good about myself in what I wore.  If you feel a white coat or green top is definitely not your style, but a black top is, definitely opt for the black top.  Over my years of giving seminars I have found that nothing, well practically nothing, is worse than standing in front of a group of people feeling like you look, well… "crummy."  This applies, of course, to wearing clothes that are too small or too large.  In short, assess your body type and choose the most flattering clothes for you.  If you are like me, it will probably be a great confidence builder to feel comfortable in what you are wearing.  Below write down what you will wear when you give a Talk.


Zany… not!
In addition to feeling comfortable, the next question to ask yourself is, does this outfit or piece of clothing look professional?  In short, if above you wrote down your favorite top to wear to work is your shirt from last year’s Hawaiian Luau, you might consider how much of a stretch you will have to make in your talk to be perceived as a "knowledgeable Department Head," representing a facility in which a member of your audience may have a relative currently residing.  Get the picture?  At the risk of stating the obvious, long term care facilities are medical facilities into which family members entrust the care of their loved ones.  The zany bright shirt that is appropriate for Clown Day at the facility may be perceived as unprofessional and even offensive by the more conservative members of the audience attending your Volunteer Recruitment Talk.  So even though you may love, love and, I mean love! brighter than bright colors because that fits your outgoing personality, and I happen to be one of these people, when you give a Volunteer Recruitment Talk you might consider looking into your closet for black's, navy's, beige's, white's, neutral tones, duller shades etc. 

Don't have any of these colors in your closet?  Not an excuse… discount stores, especially Target, have upscale clothing.  Try the mall. Penny's is not that cheap any more, but is not as high priced as department stores.  However, I bought a nice suit jacket at Macy's on sale at 40% off.  So, the point to be made here is… to say, "On an Activity Director's salary I cannot afford a new top!" really does not hold water.  You only need one top, or two at the most.

Of course neutral, muted, white and dark colors certainly are not as fun as the bright colors for some of us, but remember:

Your goal is not to please yourself, but is to present yourself in such a credible fashion
that members of your audience will sign up and volunteer.

So ask yourself, "Isn't it worth stepping out of your normal style-comfort-zone for a few hours, if it results in getting that one dependable volunteer who shows up each week?"  So rethink the answer you wrote above.  Write below what you will wear to give your Volunteer Recruitment Talk that is not only comfortable, but professionally represents your health care facility.  If you do not have anything right now, write down a future date, after your next pay check, for a shopping trip.


Now that you have something in mind to wear that is either currently hanging in your closet, or have set a goal for a few shopping expeditions, let's look at…

C. Crafting Your Recruitment Talk
Save expanding your ego

First, let's talk about the length of your talk.  Would you agree that there is nothing worse than a speaker who has about 15 minutes worth of content but stretches it out to 60 minutes?  It is better to be short, energetic, and to the point, leaving the group wanting more information than boring them to tears with "ums and ah's" and droning on and on as they keep sneaking peaks at their watches praying for a Time Machine to magically appear and transport them through the last 20 minutes of your already too too too long and definitely too too too boring talk.  If you say, "But I love, love, LOVE! to talk!"  Well, good for you!  I agree, talking is fun and I happen to be a talker.  But, I suggest you save expanding your ego for your close friends and relatives.  

Blinded by the light?
Remember the goal of your Volunteer Recruitment Talk is not to meet your needs, but to meet the needs of the audience that has graciously invited you into their meeting.  So plan your talk.  Practice it and be brief.  Don't ramble.  Rambling is great for those of us who are extroverts.  If you are an extrovert… you may feel inside, "Gee! Everyone is looking at me, I am the center of attention!  I am in the spotlight!"  However, don't take this as a license to abuse or victimize your audience by over-talking.  The best way of avoid over-talking, which may arise through nervousness, is to come up with a one word self-talk affirmation, like saying to yourself the word "limit."  When you find yourself rambling either because it feels "Oh so good to be in the lime light;" or your rambling helps to act as a vehicle to vent your nervousness, what affirmation can you say to stop you from victimizing your audience by rambling?  Write that affirmation below.

Say the word "Limit!"  or "Stop" to myself.


Pointers for Introverts.
However, if you are an introvert, feel very self conscious, and hate to be the center of attention, you might consider having your extrovert Activity Assistant co-present with you.  This might provide you with some moral support, and he or she might do most of the talking. If using your Assistant won't work for you, Section 8 in Part III gives you some specific suggestions for handling nervousness.  The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will probably be.  Below write the name of some one who might co-present with you or write specific days and times you will set aside prior to your talk to practice practice practice  your Volunteer Recruitment Talk.


What do I say?
Now that hopefully I have convinced you that short, sweet and to the point is by far better than a long-winded boring pontification that merely is meant to fill the time allotted… Ending early is better than droning on… Let me give you a suggested format.

As I mentioned in the DVD, I like to use visual aids when I talk.  They make me less reliant on notes.  Thus, your talk is not only organized for you, but your audience gets a feeling of organization as well through your use of visual aids.  So buy from Staples, or an Office Supplies store, a large calendar that shows one month or one week and can be filled in with erasable marker pen.  I like these dry marker calendars better than poster board because they can easily be rolled up and rubber-banded.  Poster board is awkward and easily soiled.

What should my introduction consist of? Your name and what you do.  I like to get to the point quickly, because it dispels my nervousness quickly.  So I start with, "Hi, my name is Cathy Zugel, and I am the Activity Director at XXX.  As Activity Director, I am responsible for providing recreation programs for the (name of facility) long-term care facility's 200 residents.  In case you are not familiar with us, XXX is located XXX.  Why go to so much trouble to explain where your facility is?  Here’s why…

Nothing is worse…
than giving a talk when all along your audience has you confused with representing a facility that may be located closer to the group's meeting place, and is more visible.  I mean, they just drove past Facility YYY on their way to the meeting.  So, this leaves a subliminal message that of course you would be from that facility.  Below write a two to three sentence introduction for your Volunteer Recruitment Talk.  Include your name, job title, full name of your facility, and level of care it provides (ICF, SNF, Adult Day Care, etc.).  Also write a brief description of its location, i.e. on the East Side right next to Riverview Hospital, the one with the large maple tree out front, or it is set back from the road and hard to see, but it is directly across the parking lot from the hospital on the east side towards town.



Facility name

Number of beds

Levels of Care











Brief Description of Location of Facility related to place where your Volunteer Recruitment Talk is being given




Say thank you.  This can occur preferably in the first few sentences you say.  Indicate some direct relationship with the group.  If you are honored by being asked to speak, say so. 

Write a thank you in your own words

“I appreciate your taking time from your meeting schedule for me to tell you more about activities at (name of facility)” 



Explain your Group programs first
Next, I found it worked for me to talk about something with which I was most familiar, which was my weekly Activity Program.  I found by starting with my Group Activities, I was talking about something with which the audience could easily relate.  They probably stereotypically associate Group Activities like Bingo with Long Term Care Activities or Recreation.  I would unroll my rubber-banded calendar and after a sentence or two of introduction, would say, "Let me tell you a little bit about our Group Activity program first.  Then I will tell you about our One-to-One or Small Group Activity program.”  This sentence gives them an outline of what they can expect and makes you look professional and well organized.  "On Monday the residents have a Group Exercise program.  At this activity 7 or 8 residents meet in the lounge, and we do simple hand exercises like raising and lowering arms, closing and opening hands."  This one-sentence description provides your listener with a visualization of what goes on.  "On Monday afternoon, we have xxx conducted in the xxx, and the residents do xxx."  Using this format, explain some of your Group activities below. 



# Attending

Name of Group Activity
































If you have a small simple craft, or a large Bingo card to illustrate what you are talking about, I find groups always like visual aids.  It also shows your listener that you cared enough to gather materials to have a prepared talk.  This is another way, in addition to your clothing, of giving a professional impression.  Below, write some of the small items you can bring to display during your Volunteer Recruitment Talk.

Small Items to bring to illustrate portions of your Group Activity Program













Explaining your One-to-One and Small Group Programs
Next I would talk about my one-to-one or small group program.  Now at the time I was an Activity Director, I had not started to instruct seminars nationally, so I had not coined the term "Success Therapy®" yet.  If you have purchased our Alzheimer's and Low Functioning Series and have implemented some of the ideas from that series I suggest you do not use the term "Success Therapy®.” If you do use the term "Success Therapy®"  be sure you define it, or else your audience will be left at the starting gate trying to figure out what in the heck is "Success Therapy®."  You might then show some projects like can rolling, caps-in-a-bowl, shape sorting, yarn winding, magazine folding, paper balling, or any of the other 100 plus ideas from our Alzheimer's and Low Functioning Series.  If you aren't doing too much in that area yet, you might introduce your Alzheimer's and Low Functioningprogram as a program you are in the process of building.  Write below the One-to-One Activity items you might bring to your talk.

Small Items to bring to illustrate portions of your One-to-One & Small Group Activity Program













Pointers for using Visual Aids
1. Keep the visual aid out of sight until you are ready to show it.
2. If possible, use items large enough to be seen from the last row. 
3. Never pass an item around among your listeners while you are speaking.  Why invite competition?
4. When you show an item, hold it up where your listeners can see it.
5. Demonstrate, if practical.  (Demonstration will be dealt with in detail in Section 3 of Part III.)
6. Don't stare at the item as you talk.  You are trying to communicate with your listeners, not the object.
7. When you have finished with the item, get it out of sight as much as practicable.

“Gee what questions do I have?" 
If the group has not been asking questions all along you might invite them to do so by saying,  "What questions do you have?"  I find this wording is much more effective and motivational to the group than asking, "Do you have any questions?''  Do you see the difference between these two questions?  The first question "What questions do you have?" assumes they have questions.  Thus hopefully their thought process is set up to start thinking,"Gee what questions do I have?"  However, the second question of, "Do you have any questions?"  leaves them to answer to themselves, "No I do not have any questions."  So you get silence from the entire group and their active involvement and thought process stops. 

Count to ten
If you use the "What questions do you have?" tactic to open the group up and you get silence…  I know this may be hard, but count to ten to yourself.  In short, you want questions.  You want a dialogue.  You want to be part of their group.  So you are intentionally doing as much as you can to create a void or create an "awkward silence."  You need to leave a space or pause for them to fill-in and talk.  If you are a self-proclaimed extrovert, a.k.a. over-talker, like I am, this will be extremely uncomfortable and difficult for you.  However, your audience needs a few moments to shift from mindlessly and passively sitting there into actively formulating a question in their mind.  This takes some groups a while. 

Don't take ownership!
Often time the history of the group, of which you are probably oblivious, dictates how open they are to risk drawing the attention of the group to themselves by asking a question.  For example, if in the past group members have been the victim of petty rivalry and nit-picking, they may feel asking a question is not "safe, or worth the risk of possible group scrutiny.  However, if the group has an openly supportive system, there may be an easy flow of questions and an instant rapport throughout your entire talk.  The point to be made here is… don't take ownership if the group is quiet and you don’t get a lot or any questions.  But you do need to take ownership by asking, "What questions do you have?"… then allowing a full ten seconds to pass… with a pleasant expectant expression on your face, maintaining eye contact with the group silently and not fidgeting.  Sign the contract below

Practice asking for questions, and then pausing for ten seconds


I agree to commit when practicing and then giving my talk to asking "What questions do you have?" then pausing for 10 seconds


D. Vital Organizational Tips

Don't fumble…
Keep your business cards and pens in the zip-lock or small trash bag with the sample projects you show.  Remove all the items from the bag before you start your Volunteer Recruitment Talk.  By having the items out of the bag, this avoids the embarrassment of fumbling around in the bag later on in front of the group.  After the items are out of the bag, lay your projects out in a row in the order you are going to show them, to avoid searching for them during your talk.  It is such a confidence-builder to know that your next item to show to the group is the next item to the right of the one you have just shown.  When giving a talk in someone's home, you will probably be sitting in a Living Room or TV Room.  Thus you might just lay these items on the floor next to your chair, if you remain seated during your talk.  Or, if it feels comfortable to stand, place your Activity items, business cards, pens, and clipboard on an end table, footstool or empty chair behind you. Arrive early and stake your claim on a chair that is easy to rise from.  Also stake a claim on the chair next to it for the items you are going to display. I find doing this helps to boost my confidence, reduces my nervousness, and makes me feel really organized, and in control.  As stated earlier, if possible the items should be as much out of sight as is practical.  When seated in a circle you merely slide the chair slight behind you, if there are no large arms on the chair sitting in preventing you from reaching around. Or place the small size trash bag that stored you items over the ones on the chair beside you.  If you are standing, have the table with your visual-aids behind you, if possible.

E. Harried, Hustled, Upset?

Remember in the preceding paragraph, I recommended staking out a place to stand or sit and a place to put your visual aids.  It clearly helps to have arrived a few minutes early to check out the size of the group and get a feel for the atmosphere in the room, as well as to introduce yourself to some group members and get their names.  If you schedule a Volunteer Recruitment Talk for 2:00, you need to back into that time to arrive early.  You have to have calculated how long it will take you to drive from your facility to the group's meeting location, assuming you do not get lost.  You will also need to plan time to tie up loose ends at the facility.  When you schedule your first talk, complete the following table.  Unless you are fortunate enough to have a GPS, I strongly suggest you go to and type in the address, which means you have to have had foresight enough to get the exact address where you will be speaking.  In short, I have devoted an extra section of the Manual to helping you get organized enough to arrive early.  You can have the best talk in the world, but if you have kept your audience waiting, thus disrupting the flow of the meeting, appear harried, hustled, and upset… need I finish this sentence?


Time of Talk

Travel Time

Google location, print map

Gather materials

Tie Up Loose Ends

Start Getting Ready!


30 minutes

15 minutes

10 minutes

15 minutes








Note in the above example, I have only provided 10 minutes for gathering materials.  That length of time assumes that you previously have collected your Volunteer Recruitment Talk materials.  Below, fill-in your items that you wish to prepare ahead of time and to place in a couple of Ziploc or small trash bags.

Items I need to bring to my Volunteer Recruitment Talk

Items to Bring

Visual Aid of Group Program

Visual Aid of Non-Group Program




Sign-Up Sheet for Clipboard






Business Cards






Name Badge & Professional Attire









Forward to Section 17
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