Volunteer Relations in Colville

Key Points

  • In rural areas, working with local volunteer groups, especially ones with similar missions, is often easier than recruiting volunteers by other means
  • Having quality volunteers requires an established incentive structure for gleaning events (i.e. volunteers need to know they will be allowed to take home a certain percentage of their harvest ahead of the event)
  • Volunteer recruiting sites (such as VolunteerMatch.org) are much less effective in rural areas
  • An email marketing service (such as MailChimp or ConstantContact) can do wonders for event announcements and other messages to volunteers.

Our Experience

A number of approaches for volunteer outreach were utilized over the first two years of the Harvest Against Hunger project in Colville, WA. First and foremost, this effort involved reaching out to an established group of gleaning volunteers in the area to create a mutually beneficial partnership. Ultimately this has proven to be a simpler and more sustainable strategy than any other form of volunteer outreach. The gleaning group has benefited from grower relationships cultivated by the Farm to Food Pantry program and the Harvest Against Hunger project has gained reliable and experienced volunteers with a minimum of time and resources put toward recruitment.

Harvest VISTAs have also attended meetings held by local 4H, Rotary, Kiwanis and church clubs, with the goal of engaging these local organizations to help glean as part of their community service.

Despite broad initial interest, this approach was far less successful, with only one club actively involved in the project’s first season. One of the many challenges to working with already established groups is a lack of direct contact with the individuals attending prior to the gleaning event. For example, the Harvest VISTA would be expecting five individuals for a project with the 4H club, but then ten volunteers would attend.


An email-marketing service like MailChimp or Constant Contact is extremely useful for event announcements. At no charge to small organizations, you can create and send professional-looking emails which can be set to post automatically to social media pages. These services also allow the user to see data on message open rates, among other metrics. Furthermore, current and potential volunteers have the ability to automatically subscribe or unsubscribe to a mailing list at any time.











The Providence NEW Hunger Coalition is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization of 13 food banks and 14 partner organizations in rural northeast Washington working towards stabilizing and strengthening our emergency food system while addressing the root causes of hunger in our communities. The Hunger Coalition brings people, groups, and agencies together to leverage their expertise and resources for the benefit of the poor and vulnerable. We also empower the food banks to be proficient, have access to healthy foods, and act as an access point for food-related needs.

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