We Want You! 5 Volunteer Recruitment Best Practices

An effective volunteer recruitment program communicates that you value volunteer impact. Showing volunteers that they have skills that matter is the bridge that connects worthy causes to passionate volunteers.

Everyone knows that passionate volunteers are instigators of positive change. When you successfully recruit top-quality volunteers, it’s like you’re recruiting ambassadors for long-term support (or in the case of younger supporters like Gen Z, influencers for life).

👉 Read more about Gen Z and millennial volunteers
👉 Read more about volunteer recruitment strategy

5 Volunteer Recruitment Best Practices

Let’s review five volunteer recruitment best practices to help start the process off on the right foot: 

  1. Develop enticing volunteer opportunities.
  2. Understand your audience on a deeper level. 
  3. Write a thorough volunteer role description. 
  4. Leverage word-of-mouth marketing. 
  5. Don’t overlook your donors. 

While recruiting and retaining volunteers, it’s essential to have a reliable volunteer management system (VMS). This nifty software system targets your volunteer communication toward volunteers more likely to engage. 

Want to level up your volunteer recruitment? Get started with POINT here.

1. Develop enticing volunteer opportunities.

Put yourself in a potential volunteer’s shoes and consider how they would want communication. Better yet, ask your current volunteers for feedback on what you can do to get more people interested. What sort of volunteering events would strike their fancy? In short, make getting involved an absolute no-brainer.

For instance, engage volunteers to help with your unique fundraising campaigns, like a fun run or a book club. Funds2Orgs suggests hosting a shoe drive fundraiser. Most people have an extra pair of shoes around the house. Especially if your volunteers are more physically active, they will likely have an extra pair to spare. Volunteers can team up with neighbors and family members to collect donated shoes. From there, volunteers can sort the shoes and prepare them for shipping.

Hands-on volunteer projects like shoe drive fundraisers are crowd-pleasers. Some volunteers prefer to see direct change as a result of their efforts. Volunteering at a food bank to package goods or an animal shelter are great hands-on options that take out “the middleman.” 

You can also offer incentives, such as free merchandise, complimentary snacks, and social opportunities. Volunteering can be a chance to make long-lasting relationships. Consider incentivizing your volunteers with a post-volunteer happy hour or game night. These experiences can help you get to know your volunteers personally and express appreciation for them. 

2. Understand your audience on a deeper level. 

Do some heavy lifting before you advertise your volunteer opportunities. Research your volunteer demographics and interests. Where are your volunteers coming from in life? What do they like to do for fun? Once you answer these questions, you’ll better understand your volunteer’s perspectives and goals. 

Take time to distinguish your volunteer’s preferred communication platforms. Do they like emails or texts? What about phone calls? Understanding your volunteer’s communication preferences will help you reach them more efficiently without spamming their inboxes.

Lastly, think about what they’re looking to get out of the volunteer experience. For example, corporate volunteers may be looking for several different outcomes. The potential volunteer pool would consist of executives hoping to further their CSR initiatives, managers wanting to connect with their directs, and new hires looking to get to know their team. 

Knowing these motivations, you can craft a tailored volunteer experience that combines philanthropy with volunteer opportunities to connect and work together throughout the experience. You might even set aside time at the end of the opportunity for corporate volunteers to complete a team-bonding exercise. 

Want to know the easiest way to manage your CSR? Talk to our team here.

3. Write a thorough volunteer role description. 

Your volunteer role descriptions are vital for the recruitment process. Potential volunteers need to be clear on their responsibilities before agreeing to help out. If your fundraiser has multiple open volunteer roles, briefly describe them to your volunteers.

Maybe you are hosting a DIY trivia fundraiser and need volunteers to get it up and running. Trivia night could require a host, fact checker, and multiple reps to get the word out. Brief volunteers on your needs and ask them how they would prefer to contribute. 

Creating detailed descriptions allows your volunteers a chance to understand where their skills best fit. For example, an avid Google junkie may prefer to research trivia, while a fun-loving extrovert may like to host contestants. 

Additionally, providing volunteer role descriptions allows your volunteers a chance to ask questions ahead of time. Regardless of your volunteer opportunities, the more specific and thorough you are, the more prepared your candidates will be for your cause.

4. Leverage word-of-mouth marketing. 

Your current volunteers can be effective advocates for your program. Ask them to share information about your program with their family members and friends. Odds are, everyone knows a person or two who would be totally interested in your mission!

Offer an incentive gift for your volunteers to bring an extra friend or family member to tag along. Gift cards, a snazzy tote bag, or a practical tumbler are all enticing volunteer gift options. 

There are other options if volunteers aren’t sure if their network would be ready to jump into the deep end with hands-on volunteering. MemberClicks advises micro-volunteering for newbies or volunteers with busy schedules. These opportunities are a couple of hours max and can be completed online so that newer or busier volunteers can feel comfortable committing their time.

Finally, create shareable content for your volunteers to repost on their social media. Offer giveaway prizes for followers to add your content to their stories and comment on your posts. Social media can provide an effective marketing boost, especially if you are run an online fundraiser like a virtual class or gala. 

5. Don’t overlook your donors. 

When searching for potential new volunteers, don’t overlook your donors. These individuals have already expressed support for your cause and may want opportunities to get involved first-hand.

In general, volunteers and donors are likely to be one and the same. Think about it this way; donors are more likely to volunteer and volunteers are more likely to donate. Keep track of both your donors and volunteers in the same VMS to cross-reference them. 

Remind donors that there are several ways to support your mission. If donors can no longer commit funds, alert them of upcoming volunteer opportunities. Thank donors and volunteers equally for their ongoing time and support. 

Volunteers are priceless additions to your organization. Connecting with and recruiting engaged, passionate supporters can make or break your volunteer opportunities. Following these volunteer recruitment practices will ensure you make your volunteers feel wanted and appreciated for their desire to do more good. 

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About the Author

Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations. 

Photo Brandy Strand
Brandy Strand
Nonprofit Partnerships Account Executive

No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.