The WUSC Local Committee at the University of Manitoba (UofM) had a problem. Well actually, it had several problems: dwindling attendance, low recruitment numbers and the three returning members were about to graduate. With such an uncertain future, the committee members could have just as easily given up, but they knew their work was too important.
To solve the recruitment problem, the trio of active members met in August to make sure they had a solid plan for the beginning of the semester. “We decided to focus on the first few weeks of the school year, when students seem to be most interested and likely to join a new group,” says UofM Local Committee member Kirstie Peden.
The committee members set up an information booth in the main campus building and put up posters around campus inviting new, interested students to come to an information session on WUSC. At the booth, they had a list of positions and responsibilities available to provide people with concrete examples showing how to get involved. They also arranged for the school newspaper to publish an interview with their newest sponsored student.
Their information session was a big factor in their recruitment success. At the session, they spent an hour explaining and discussing WUSC, but also made sure to connect personally with the students who attended, answering any questions they had. Everyone at the session was invited to the Local Committee’s first meeting the following week, where they would have the opportunity to sign up for specific volunteer positions. All of this was an effort to encourage a sense of ownership and responsibility among new volunteers – important not just for recruitment, but also for retaining volunteers down the line.
All the planning and hard work paid off. According to Kristie, “We have found that most of the people who came to that first meeting kept attending our meetings throughout the semester, and we now have about 10 committed volunteers. Furthermore, many of our new volunteers are in their first year of school, which is great for the continuity of our group.”
Now the University of Manitoba Local Committee can focus on bonding with the new members. They’ve already started, by holding several joint social events with WUSCers at the University of Winnipeg. These excursions, which have included skating trips and museum visits, have helped build stronger friendships among WUSC members on both campuses.