Build Up Your Volunteer Recruitment
Volunteer recruitment is a process and is more than just saying, “Hey, we need volunteers” to anyone who will listen.
Taking the time to build out a plan is well worth it. It may seem daunting, but we promise it isn’t. Putting your thoughts and ideas into a recruitment plan saves you time and effort down the line. It ensures you stay focused on your goals and can track what works and redirect what doesn’t. Creating a path forward for your organization that outlines what you need volunteers for, how many you need, where you will find the volunteers (especially the right volunteers!), and how you will onboard them.
A key part of any volunteer recruitment plan is to tie it to your nonprofit’s goals and activities across departments and between teams. Volunteers can help across many parts of your organization, even helping with things you may have never thought to use them for. By looking at your goals and departmental activities, you can identify new needs that allow you to engage more volunteers in more ways. This can draw in volunteers who wouldn’t normally get involved, and once they see their impact, they are likely to return!
Who needs to be involved in creating and executing a volunteer recruitment plan?
- Volunteer coordinator(s), specialists, managers, and directors
- Anyone else from any department that could benefit from volunteers
- Team leads for projects volunteers will work on
What do you need to do to build out a recruitment plan?
- Identify overall nonprofit goals and needs that volunteers can support (go to your strategic plan!)
- Analyze your current volunteer opportunities and any outstanding volunteer needs
- Understand how many volunteers you need for various tasks, how often they are needed, and any special skills they need to have
- Identify benefits volunteers gain from their experience with your nonprofit
- Identify any possible barriers to volunteering with your organization, and work to remove them
- Analyze the channels you currently use and your messaging
- Identify new channels and updated messaging that will better reach and resonate with your target audience
- Using all of this, create and execute your strategy
Which part of a volunteer recruitment plan should you focus on?
- Creating volunteer opportunities
- Identifying target volunteers for each opportunity (e.g., age group, skills, availability, etc.)
- Creating a strategy around messaging that is channel-specific and targeted toward your desired volunteer type
- Posting opportunities on different channels in accordance with your strategy
- Onboarding volunteers, collecting their feedback, and refining your process
What are the benefits of a recruitment plan?
- Save time with more effective recruiting methods
- Reach more people who are aligned with your goals and needs
- Use volunteers in the best capacity to reach your nonprofit’s goals
- Reach more of your community by diversifying your volunteer recruitment channels
- Onboarding more volunteers!
Keep reading to learn more about different volunteer opportunities, outreach and partnerships, and different ways to market.
About Volunteer Opportunities
Consider segmenting your opportunities into categories. Start by listing all your volunteer needs. Check that you’ve included everything by asking your staff, board, committees, and current volunteers.
The goal should be to have a range of experiences available to engage all types of volunteers – millennials, experienced, new to the industry, new to the area, retirees, etc. Talking to all of these different groups may also help you realize ways you could better meet the needs of the communities and shape volunteer opportunities around those.
Creating various opportunities to match your volunteers’ preferences and abilities will help with engagement while delivering great community value.
Once you have an understanding of what you offer, think about your community even more deeply.
- What times will these opportunities be made available? Can volunteers meet that?
- Where will these be located? Is there a bus route? Does the bus run before the start time and after the event ends? If your community does not have access to vehicles, how can they help?
- Do you ask volunteers to pay for things out-of-pocket? For example, do they have to purchase a shirt? Pay for their background check? Does your community have this ability?
Outreach and Partnerships
How people find you is pretty important. It is more than having a website and a Facebook page (while these are must-haves for sure!). It is about who are you talking to, how you are reaching them, and how you are supporting them in getting involved.
Learn what is important to the community and how your project aligns. People hear and see information all the time and want to know how it aligns with their values; your outreach to them should help answer this.
We are an interconnected world, and there are many organizations and people out there who are serving the same audience. Take time to get to know these groups and how your project aligns with their mission.
Get talking with those corporate partners; here’s a tidbit to get you in the door.
“Volunteering and giving back in the workplace can actually improve feelings of engagement and loyalty.”Candid
About Channels, Marketing, and Platforms
When you think of the places you go to find information, where do you go? What about your mom? Where do people in your community go for information and to be kept in the know? Is your community on What’s App? (Most foreign communities use it daily!) If your org only uses email, you’re going to miss them every time because your communication channels are different. Channels could include:
- What’s App
- This list is not exhaustive; what are some others that you can think of?
Who wouldn’t love to go viral (for something good!)? Think of the things that make you click when you are scrolling. What do they have in common? Now think of the places you keep going back to for their content. What do they have in common? Has anyone had this conversation at your nonprofit? “Yea we post on Facebook, but we only get one or two likes. Why isn’t social media getting us more engagement?” It may come down to just a few things 😉
- Images: If you create all uniform content that might not catch the eye of an urban audience, it might be time to have a community member give advice on the marketing assets.
- Content: Are you only posting about events or things to register for? Or maybe you only send out the year-end annual appeal via email? It might be time to take a step back and share more of your “Why.” Or maybe even sit down with your volunteers, staff, and stakeholders to hear about what they would like to see from you.
- Language: Do you serve a mostly non-English speaking community? Do you post content in a language that is understood by your desired audience? Do you have someone on staff who is fluent in that language? All of that is necessary to engage the right folks in ways that will generate a good response.
Once you have them engaged through channels they appreciate with content and images that draw them in, how do you keep them? It is about the tools you use. Let’s be real here. All of us are either on our phones or on the computer at some point in our day. Choosing tools that provide ease of use is paramount in today’s world (no one likes unyielding or antiquated processes).
Things to consider when choosing tools:
- Will it help you recruit new volunteers
- Will it give easy ways to engage current volunteers
- Is it accessible and meet people where they are, on their phones and/or computer
- Does the tool engage across channels (for example, email AND social media)
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