Toolkit for Working with Rural Volunteers

"A one-of-a-kind toolkit needed by rural organizations to build sustainable volunteer management infrastructure."

The OSM/VISTA Teams completed a pioneering three-year research project on rural volunteerism throughout Appalachia and the Rocky Mountain West with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds. After engaging in place-based research in 34 rural communities, we created the Toolkit for Working with Rural Volunteers to share approaches to volunteer recruitment, management and retention that are successful in rural settings. It also contains one-of-a-kind tools needed by rural organizations to build sustainable volunteer management infrastructure.


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Case Studies

The following pages give a brief overview of 25 practices selected as successful volunteer management strategies and the trial practices conducted by other organizations.

Each page contains a PDF link to full case study featuring:
-Snapshot of the area served by each organization
-Contact information
-Detailed accounts of the needs being addressed
-Explanation of the planning process from inception to implementation
-Analysis and recommendations from real organizations after an entire year of work
-Useful planning documents and resources provided by participating organizations

Not sure where to start? Complete this quiz to identify practices that meet your needs.

#1 Board member recruitment spreadsheet

#2 Partnerships with off-road and 4×4 groups

#3 Partnerships with church and faith-based groups

#4 Partnerships with businesses

#5 Support from mandatory service volunteers

#6 Support from community service volunteers

#7 Support from student athlete volunteers

#8 Bi-monthly outreach meetings

#9 One-hour board meetings

#10 Volunteer contributions to group’s newsletter

#11 Developing a Youth Advisory Board

#12 Forming a youth helper organization

#13 Hosting a Wild & Scenic Film Festival

#14 Engaging students in service-learning

#15 Retired and Senior Volunteer Program

#16 Providing or organizing transportation

#17 Volunteer water monitoring through partnerships

#18 Volunteer water monitoring with individuals

#19 Hosting a volunteer appreciation picnic

#20 Working with volunteers to construct rain gardens

#21 Working with volunteers to construct wetlands

#22 Hosting a duck race

#23 Hosting a 5k race

#24 “Adopt-a-Stream” fundraiser & outreach event

#25 Fish fry fundraiser and outreach event