Make the Most of Volunteers (and How to Find Them)

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By Rebecca Stauffer


Like many association magazines, the Parenteral Drug Association’s magazine covers issues of importance on a very specific segment of the market. In our case, this is manufacturing of sterile injectable drugs. Our readers are passionate about the latest technical and regulatory developments in this area.


However, neither the other members nor I are truly embedded in the day-to-day complexities of this area, although I like to think I have gained a good amount of working knowledge in this area.


This means working with volunteers and building up a pipeline of volunteer writers among our membership base is critical to the success of the publication and ensuring the content reflects the needs and interests of members.


Here are five tips to grow your volunteer pipeline and leverage existing volunteers.


Turn Your Conference Speakers into Authors

PDA hosts a number of conferences each year. Even if your association only holds one annual conference, speakers can be a great resource for content. I usually attend a few of the sessions, and after it breaks, I introduce myself to the speaker and give them my card. I have gained some great technical articles this way on specific topics. Speakers like it because an article helps their presentation live on past the conference and reach the thousands of members who were not able to attend.


Leverage Existing Editorial Boards

Many association magazines have an editorial board or committee to help support the publication. PDA is no different. When pitching topics for future issues, I encourage our editorial committee members not just to author articles but to reach out to their colleagues and contacts. This helps because the editorial committee members are generally familiar with the publication process and know more about what I am looking for.


Network as Much as Possible

I make a point of attending PDA’s networking events as often as I can. Whether it’s a reception at a meeting or even the occasional open house at our headquarters, I am there introducing myself to volunteers and talking up the magazine.


PDA also has chapters and I occasionally attend one of their events and deliver a short presentation on our publishing opportunities while also networking. This has been a great way to find volunteer authors in other regions of the United States.


Promote Cross-Volunteering

In addition to your magazine, do you publish a peer-reviewed journal or technical books? Do your volunteer leaders conduct training sessions or webinars? What about your volunteer committees that help organize conferences? Any of these volunteers could also write for your publication. For example, the volunteer committee for the annual spring conference could help draft a summary of the meeting or even talk to the speakers on your behalf.


This cross-volunteering is also a great way to cross-promote your various products. If one of your book authors writes an article in your magazine, include a box with information about the book with the article, or even feature it in an ad.


Use Your Social Media Connections

Most of my 500 connections on LinkedIn are volunteers with PDA. I also have connections on Twitter, albeit not as many. If I need an author, a quick search of my LinkedIn connections can pull up a good number who can write on a specific topic. I’ve also had success posting writing opportunities on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Social media is also a great way to reach young and emerging professionals in the field. Recent graduates can be hungry for exposure, and writing an article is a great way to build a presence in their field.


Rebecca Stauffer ( is managing editor of the Parenteral Drug Association’s membership magazine, the PDA Letter.