Ideas and Strategies for Volunteer Recruitment
Almost every nonprofit relies on volunteers to achieve their missions, so here are some strategies for volunteer attraction and recruitment! Over the past couple years, recruitment strategies have shifted due to the pandemic, people’s lives shifting, and digital being the preferred format for…well…everything. If you’re intimidated or overwhelmed with all the different components and platforms you’re using, don’t worry! You’ve found the right place.
This article goes over the basics of volunteer recruitment, but you can dive deeper with additional blog posts linked throughout.
POINT is dedicated to equipping nonprofit leaders (mostly women!) with the tools they need to do more good in our communities. That’s why we created our free volunteer management system that empowers you to do everything from recruiting to reporting while saving your team time.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty and formulate an entire recruitment strategy specific to your organization, check out our Volunteer Recruitment Workshop. It’s free, and has 5 modules full of lessons and activities to help you map out everything and find your ideal volunteers!
How can we create compelling volunteer opportunities to attract diverse volunteers?
Crafting volunteer opportunities that resonate with a diverse audience is essential for a thriving volunteer program. Here are just a few strategies to ensure your opportunities appeal to a broad range of interests and skills, fostering an inclusive environment for all volunteers.
🌈 Craft opportunities that appeal to a broad range of interests and skills
Take a good look at the true needs your organization has and see if you can create a volunteer position out of it. While some people might love packing boxes or sorting donations, others might be more inclined to get involved with opportunities where they interact with people, or where they can do desk research or virtual volunteering.
Giving people multiple ways to engage with your organization is key, and it can allow you to expand the work you do in the community.
🎯 Emphasize the impact volunteers can make and the benefits of joining
One of the best motivators—especially for younger generations—is showing the impact of volunteer tasks. For example, showcasing that packing dinners for 2 hours means 300 unhoused neighbors are fed is HUGE. Letting people know the impact their actions have creates meaning. POINT creates automatic impact reports for all volunteers, but adding context of the impact on your mission is especially helpful.
You can also share with potential volunteers the benefits of community involvement. Research shows it improves physical and mental health, creates social connections and friendships, and can even help them find love!
🤝 Foster an inclusive environment that welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds
If you want to attract and retain more diverse volunteers, then you have to make sure your organization provides a welcoming environment that recognizes and respects their lived experience. Train your staff so that they are aware of and working to correct any biases, prejudices, or assumptions they may make.
And take a look at your processes to see if they are welcoming. For example, do you allow volunteers to identify as non-binary on registration, do you use preferred pronouns, do you accommodate language barriers, do you provide adjustments for differently abled volunteers?
What strategies can we use to reach a wider audience for volunteer recruitment?
Reaching a wider audience is key to attracting volunteers with diverse perspectives and skills. There are many ways to do this, from leveraging social media platforms to collaborating with local businesses, to extend the reach of your volunteer recruitment efforts.
If you want to really narrow down a recruitment strategy for your specific organization, we highly recommend going through our free Recruitment Workshop.
📣 Utilize social media platforms to share opportunities and engage communities
Social media is a great way to grow awareness of your nonprofit, engage people in advocacy efforts, and show potential volunteers what they can expect when working with your organization. You can share about the cause area you work in, the issues facing your community, and how people can help. Then direct them to a link containing everything they need to get involved.
Focusing on every platform can be overwhelming, so it helps to know your target audience and do some research. You can tailor your efforts to focus on the places your ideal volunteers are more likely to be.
🌐 Collaborate with local businesses, schools, and community groups for outreach
Partnerships are a great way to build a long-lasting volunteer base. Identifying values-aligned partnerships with other organizations or local businesses can provide group volunteer capacity, and potentially even create more donors. Working with schools can provide students with valuable experience and connect a new generation to their community.
Whenever you are building volunteer partnerships, it helps to have tools that foster collaboration. Did you know that you can co-host volunteer events with other organizations on POINT?
🎥 Create engaging multimedia content to showcase your organization’s mission and volunteer needs
In the digital era, it is worth it to put a little bit of time into creating engaging multimedia content to reach a wider audience and capture people’s attention. This could even be a way for you to get younger volunteers involved who want to become content creators (or, already are).
How can we make our volunteer recruitment process more accessible and user-friendly?
An accessible and user-friendly recruitment process is the first step in welcoming volunteers. Simplify your application process, optimize your website for mobile accessibility, and offer instant signup to get interested volunteers in the door. Review your onboarding process to ensure that every volunteer is getting the information they need to be successful, but isn’t required to jump through hoops.
🚀 Simplify the application and registration process for ease of use
Give volunteers a way to sign up easily from wherever they find you. Offering instant signup is one way to do this, as is using a system specifically created to help you manage volunteer registration. Keeping everything streamlined provides consistency for volunteers, and your staff.
📱 Optimize your organization’s website for mobile accessibility
A lot of times people find you through links they click on their phones. Make sure you optimize your site design for mobile as well, so every interested volunteer can easily find out what they need. Did you know that the average American checks their phone over 60 times per day? Use that to your advantage!
📧 Provide clear and concise information about the volunteer onboarding process
In your volunteer event description, let volunteers know exactly what to expect. Do they need to fill out forms? Register for a background check? Add their t-shirt size or dietary restrictions? Is there a mandatory orientation prior to the event?
Make sure it’s clear, easy to find, and volunteers know exactly how to prepare to volunteer with you. Consider tailoring your volunteer onboarding process for different types of involvement. It can save your volunteers and staff time, while still making sure volunteers have what they need to be successful.
What role does storytelling play in attracting volunteers to our cause?
Storytelling is a powerful tool to connect volunteers emotionally to your cause. Millennials and Gen Z are also very curious about the systems at play and how they’ve created the issues many nonprofits work to solve. Sharing your story can be used to inform people about the issues you work on, the impact you have, and client or volunteer success stories.
You can do this through creating engaging multimedia content with a central message and theme, and by encouraging volunteers to share their experiences with you in creative ways.
📖 Share impactful stories of volunteers
Volunteering is a journey that often spurs self-growth. You can ask volunteers to share stories of how getting involved in their community has helped them. Or you can highlight volunteers who have been involved for a long time to share what motivates them, and their favorite part of volunteering.
Inspiring people to do more good and show that it can actually have an impact is a great way to get people to take action. For many, it’s become so routine to scroll and feel helpless. Telling stories of true personal and community impact reminds people that there are ways to make change.
🎬 Create multimedia content that visually tells your organization’s story
This can take many forms! From infographic resources on your website, to shareable and well-designed (use Canva!) posts on Instagram, to videos you share on socials or LinkedIn, there are many ways to get your message out there. Creating engaging content can help you attract new volunteers, and potentially create more ways for them to support your organization.
It’s also crucial to use action-oriented images on your volunteer event posting. Using those rather than stock imagery helps people envision how they will help and be more likely to sign up.
🗣 Encourage volunteers to share their own experiences through testimonials
You can create a form where volunteers can come and add feedback, quotes about their experience, and ideas to support your org. This can just be a running Google form that your team can use as a way to engage current volunteers and improve things for future supporters. Testimonials can be shared on social media, impact reports, and other communications.
You can also use volunteer feedback to improve your volunteer experience and keep them coming back.
How can we leverage partnerships to enhance our volunteer recruitment efforts?
Collaborating with partners can significantly amplify your volunteer recruitment efforts. By creating partnerships where you offer group volunteer opportunities, you can leverage those relationships to engage volunteers individually. You can also use your partnerships to create funding opportunities with matching gifts and volunteer grants.
🤝 Collaborate with local businesses, schools, and other nonprofits
First, did you know that you can collaborate with alllll of these types of organizations on POINT? You can co-host events, share management duties, and easily see mutual impact data. Some people may volunteer for the first time in a company or school sponsored volunteer event. Once volunteers have gotten their foot in the door and met people, it can quell any anxiety they have and encourage them to come back and volunteer on their own.
And, building strong community partnerships means that your city is more resilient when experiencing a natural or man-made disaster. Which is unfortunately something we all need to be prepared for.
🌐 Establish partnerships with community influencers to amplify your message
Are there people who are regional influencers in your area? Think of the kinds of social media accounts that focus on things to do in your city, or people on Facebook and Nextdoor who post local reviews, share their favorite places to eat or go for XYZ. As long as they have a wide network of followers or community members, they can be a great partner.
Tapping into this can help you publicize what it’s like to volunteer at your org. Invite them to a volunteer opportunity and ask if they would be willing to share about it on their platform. Who knows, they might be able to share your story with thousands of new people!
📢 Offer joint events or initiatives with partner organizations to attract a shared audience
True change involves coalition building, which is a great way to tap into a broader network of supporters. Reach out to other nonprofits, community groups, or leaders to brainstorm ideas for partnership. If coalitions already exist, tap into them. They often have access to resources, or coordinate events where you can connect with a broader section of the community.
What incentives or benefits can we offer to attract and retain volunteers?
Offering incentives and benefits is a key aspect of attracting and retaining volunteers. We cover this a lot more in depth in our volunteer engagement blogs and our free workshop. But for now, here’s a few strategies to make volunteering with your organization a rewarding experience.
🎁 Provide recognition and appreciation for volunteer contributions
Volunteers generously gift you their time, effort, skills, and often donate as well. Be sure they know—and are reminded—that this is valued and recognized by your organization. From something as simple as automated thank you emails after volunteering, to inviting them to annual volunteer appreciation days, recognition goes a long way towards fostering long-term volunteership.
📚 Offer skill development opportunities and training programs
Your volunteers support you because they care about your mission. But striving to make your relationship mutually beneficial can cultivate even deeper commitment. Offer opportunities to learn new skills through their support of your organization. This could look like:
- Workshops or resources teaching volunteers how to advocate for policies in your issue area
- Offering opportunities for skills-based volunteering like: communications, graphic design, social media, service-based pro-bono work (like legal, accounting, etc.), translation, etc.
- Training events to become volunteer leaders
- and more!
🌟 Create a sense of belonging and community within your volunteer team
This can be done both virtually and in person! For in-person volunteers, encourage them to get to know each other throughout the volunteer event. Host volunteer potlucks or events. Offer ways for volunteers to bring ideas to the table and work on their own projects. Even if you only have digital volunteers that don’t always interact, create a volunteer doc where everyone adds some fun facts and the answer to an ice breaker question. That way they know they’re part of something bigger than just their tasks.
Many people—especially in younger generations—are missing a sense of community engagement and ownership. Using volunteering to get people plugged into their community is a great way to overcome isolation and loneliness.
If you found this article on attracting and recruiting volunteers helpful, we have a ton of other resources you’re gonna love. Check out our Good POINT Blog or our free suite of volunteer management workshops.
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