As a volunteer recruiter at the Bishop Museum, the largest museum of science and cultural history in Hawaii, I will specifically focus on the local schools. There are numerous groups of students at these schools that are ideal targets for volunteer recruitment. One group of students is comprised of those with a deep interest in science and/or cultural history. Many of these students will welcome the opportunity to work at the largest museum of science and history in the state because of numerous learning opportunities. As a recruiter, I may offer them certain educational incentives to increase the prospect of securing their commitment. I will also target students who may want to improve their resume for college applications. Having an internship or volunteer experience at the biggest state museum of science and cultural history will help them build more competitve resumes. I may also offer them an incentive of recommendation letter for college application if they achieve certain performance benchmarks as interns or volunteers. This will not only encourage them to join as volunteers but also motivate them to work hard. I may also target college students, especially in majors like history and science, because some students do target a career as a researcher or a staff member at the museums.
One cannot overestimate the importance of social media. I will make posts about volunteer opportunities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram etc. I will sepcifically target certain social media communities where high school and college students with an interest in science and/or cultural history get together. In addition to making posts, I will also post videos and pictures that give an idea of what it is like to be a volunteer at Bishop Museum. I have noticed some Facebook community groups with hundreds of thousands and even million members that frequently focus on social and scientific issues. I may reach out to the administrators of these groups if they can share our volunteer opportunity posts as a public service message. The posts by these groups are seen by a large number of people as evident by the number of ‘likes’.
The Bishop Museum is visited by a large number of visitors. I will do a careful survey of the museum to identify potential locations where I can put posters about volunteer opportunities. I know through personal observations that the remarkable collection of the museum leaves a great impression on many of the high school and college students that visit the museum. It is conceivable that a significant proportion of them do not know that the museum actively seeks volunteers due to limited resources. By putting posters in highly visible locations throughout the museum such as the ticketing booth and the entrance doors, I hope to convert some of the young visitors to the museum into volunteers.
I will also reach out to local non-profit organizations such as churches and community service organizations. The young members of such organizations often have positive attitudes towards unpaid community service volunteer opportunities. Bishop Museum promotes the understanding of science and state’s cultural history, a mission that should appeal to many young people.
I believe marketing is as important for non-profit organizations like the Bishop Museum as it is for-profit organizations. Fortunately, there are many ways to reach prospective volunteers including students at local schools and colleges, visitors to the museum, members of other non-profit organizations, and social media communities. The key is to identify where prospective volunteers get together and what appeals to them, and then use the knowledge to create a persuasive message and even combine it with certain incentives.
The visit to Bishop Museum reminded me how pictures and videos do not really do justice to the beauty of the museum. It almost looks like one of those opera halls in Europe where Shakespeare plays used to be staged and maybe still are. The museum does not only have an unconventional interior design but also looks like anything but a museum from outside. I still remember thinking during my first visit to the museum that it looks like a huge luxury manion from the outside. I do see an advantage to this design philosophy because it creates the feeling of being at home. I believe one effective strategy to recruit volunteers may be to work with schools to organize class trips. Once students have visited the museum, they will realize how different and how fun this place will be if they decide to volunteer.
I also love the fact that the museum employs technology to educate the visitors. There are video screens and interactive booths throughout the museum. In addition, the suspended animals such as sharks look very much like Damien Hurst sculptures. The museum sometimes looks like a playhouse because both adults and children seem to enjoy the fun approach to learning. As a science museum, the ability to see concepts in action satisfies the curiousity of kids and helps them fall in love with science even more. The museum does a great job of engaging the visitors, and it is clear that lot of planning went into creating an optimal learning environment.
The museum regularly holds exhibits and symposiums throughout the year so that the members always have something new to look forward to. All of my visits to Bishop Museum have convinced me we not only need more of museums like this in Hawaii but also every other state. Museums like Bishop Museums can play a valuable role in inspiring more and more American kids to pursue a career in STEM fields.