WeForest is a 100% volunteer-run organisation dedicated to sustainable reforestation. According to CEO Marie-Noëlle Keijzer, Zartis has given the group a ‘quantum leap’ in terms of recruitment, speeding up its growth and enhancing the quality of its team.
Unique and forward thinking
What do you think makes your organisation so special?
As an organisation, I think we’re quite different and unique. Firstly, we work only with volunteers, which is fairly groundbreaking. It’s generally thought that people contribute more when they’re paid, but we have a lot of very passionate people in our team because our volunteers don’t work for money, they just work for the love of it.
We’re also quite modern in terms of our interest and involvement in new media. This is probably because WeForest founder, Bill Liao has a really strong background in this area, having co-founded Xing, an online social network for German speaking countries.
It’s generally thought that people contribute more when they’re paid, but we have a lot of very passionate people in our team because our volunteers don’t work for money, they just work for the love of it.Marie-Noëlle Keijzer
Bill is really well connected. He’s helped us build up a very, very big network of people who support us and contribute to the cause in various different ways, through volunteering, donating money or even through their connections. This is how we managed to get celebrities like Stephen Fry and Jeremy Irons to work with us.
In addition, WeForest is quite forward thinking in its extensive use of the internet. It’s an essential tool for us as we’re a very international organisation. Our management team is currently made up of six professionals who work with 10 active volunteers across the US and Europe. This means we’re always using online tools like Skype to communicate with each other. Zartis is also very suited to this virtual way of working – I can’t imagine us doing things differently.
How do go about recruiting for such unique projects?
We invest quite a lot into each new recruit, so we ideally like our volunteers to stay for at least a year – it’s a long-term commitment. As we’re a small team, we can’t afford to spend our time training people who aren’t going to stay on board. Because we all work remotely, you end up spending quite some time on the phone with the volunteer, especially in the beginning, to monitor them and to keep them motivated.
For these reasons it’s essential that we find high quality, dedicated candidates. However, pre-Zartis this was quite a challenge. What we’ve noticed with people who’ve applied through Zartis is that they’re very committed and really want the job. The volunteers we’ve recruited in this last round are exceptional, with really high profiles.
We recently recruited our director of marketing through Zartis. He’s an amazing contributor, a really good catch. He’s totally engaged with his work and is already in a very senior position. He was one of eight new volunteers that we took on last year. We hope this number will grow as we expand further.
Once in a while we’d post the advert on the facebook page too, but we didn’t have anywhere near the response level that we had through using Zartis. Results we got from it completely exceeded our expectations, increasing our volunteers by 50%.
So finding the right candidate had been hard up to this point. What avenues for recruiting are you using now?
Zartis not only helped us find top quality recruits, but it also helped us to collect a large batch of candidates within a very short time frame. Previously we were struggling a little bit as we only really put the advert on the website, which can be difficult for candidates to find if it’s the sole place you’re advertising. We did have applicants, but it was fairly seldom and when they did apply it was often quite spontaneously.
A selection of candidates is obviously what you want, because as a recruiter you don’t want to just take who shows up!
Once in a while we’d post the advert on the facebook page too, but we didn’t have anywhere near the response level that we had through using Zartis. The results we got from it completely exceeded our expectations, increasing our volunteers by 50%.
Zartis has allowed us to reach out to a whole new network of people. We got a lot of responses in just a few days, so that’s pretty amazing. We actually had to turn many people down. We’re now able to pick and choose our volunteers, whereas before we maybe only had one applicant so we couldn’t be so fussy. A selection of candidates is obviously what you want, because as a recruiter you don’t want to just take who shows up!