Volunteers are critical for all types of organizations, from nonprofits to schools to membership organizations. They can help organizations fill staffing gaps, build excitement around an event, give hours toward supporting your mission, and so much more.
There’s a good chance you’ve already benefited from the help of volunteers, but you might still have some questions on how to recruit more to your organization. It can be daunting to recruit and maintain the number of volunteers you need, but we have some tips to help you out below!
We’ll cover a bit more on why volunteer recruitment is so important when the best time is to recruit volunteers and 12 creative volunteer recruitment ideas you can try.
Why is volunteer recruitment so important?
You already know the value volunteers bring to your organization, but what makes the recruitment stage of volunteer management so important? Volunteer recruitment is crucial because it allows your organization the opportunity to maintain needed volunteer levels and skills throughout the year.
Not all volunteers will be able to make a long-term commitment to your organization. They might move away, have a change in their work schedule, or several other life events that limit their ability to help. Volunteer recruitment anticipates these changes by always filling in volunteer slots with fresh faces as there’s turnover.
Volunteer recruitment strategies also let your organization actively seek out people with varied skillsets who can support your work in various ways. By having a volunteer recruitment strategy, you’ll identify organizational needs and the best volunteers to fill those.
When is the best time to recruit volunteers?
Successful volunteer recruitment campaigns often occur leading up to major projects or campaigns.
Let’s say your organization is going to host a fundraising fun run, for example. Leading up to the event, you’ll want to start reaching out to supporters to see who can fill volunteer roles like running the packet pickup table, cleaning up after the event, or even assisting with the event’s marketing.
Having a specific event or campaign offers momentum for volunteer recruitment efforts.
However, before a significant event isn’t the only good time to recruit volunteers. A good strategy is to always be recruiting volunteers. By having a proactive volunteer recruitment plan in place, you won’t find yourself in a bind when you need extra help.
What are the best volunteer recruitment strategies?
Ok, so you know you need volunteers, and you know that it’s always a good time to be recruiting them, but you may still be wondering how to recruit volunteers. The volunteer recruitment ideas in this section will help you figure out how to get people to volunteer with your organization.
1. Offer incentives
Many of us have found ourselves involved in something at some point in our lives because we wanted the free t-shirt, right? So offering incentives can be a great way to encourage volunteer participation.
You can offer free merchandise, branded swag, drawings or raffle tickets for various prizes, or even gift cards to local businesses. In addition, incentives entice volunteers to help out while also offering an opportunity for you to thank them for their support.
2. Provide a wide range of ways to get involved
People come with different skill sets and different goals for what they want to get out of a volunteer opportunity. By offering a variety of volunteer opportunities rather than just one role, you can appeal to a broad range of skill sets and increase your chances of recruiting more people.
For example, let’s say you’re a nonprofit that offers mentorship to youth. Some people may want to support your cause by volunteering directly with the youth as a mentor. However, some may not be comfortable with that but would be willing to help out with data entry, event planning, or other needs your organization might have.
3. Conduct face-to-face recruitment at local events
Putting a face to your organization adds a personal touch that can make people feel more drawn to supporting your cause. Try recruiting new volunteers by presenting or tabling at local events.
You can look into things like career days, street fairs, Toastmasters meetings, Chamber of Commerce mixers, or any other community gatherings where people might be interested in your work.
4. Ask existing volunteers to bring a friend
Never underestimate the power of your network! Your existing volunteers are an excellent resource to help you recruit additional volunteers. Also, don’t be afraid to encourage volunteers to bring a friend to an event.
Since there’s a chance your volunteers’ friends have similar interests and have maybe even heard their friends talk about past volunteer work with your organization, this can be an easy way to connect with like-minded people who want to help.
5. Create opportunities for micro-volunteering
Micro-volunteering refers to volunteer opportunities that only take a couple of hours maximum to complete. Many are offered online, which adds additional flexibility to the arrangement, but quick in-person volunteer opportunities are also an option.
The shorter time frame afforded by micro-volunteering makes for a more low-key commitment. In addition, these opportunities are convenient for people who want to get involved but might have concerns about their time.
6. Re-engage former volunteers
Another easy way to recruit volunteers is to re-engage past volunteers. You can use your association management system (AMS) to track when your last contact was with a former volunteer, understand their interests with your organization, and then plan when to reach out with a new opportunity for them.
Association management software gives you the opportunity for easy recruitment, as you’re able to tap into supporters of your organization who may just need a check-in rather than recruiting someone from scratch!
7. Use social media more strategically
You’re probably already using your social media for marketing and sharing events, so pivoting to use it as a volunteer recruitment method is simple!
Pay attention to the people who are engaging with your posts the most. These are supporters you can reach out to directly to see if they’re interested in getting more involved.
You’ll also want to create shareable content. So, if you’re looking for volunteers for a special event, try creating a fun infographic explaining your needs and where folks can go to sign up. And, make sure to ask them to help you share the message!
Finally, you can also create Facebook events for volunteer opportunities. For example, if you’re a local park, try creating a Facebook event for a park clean-up day. When volunteers show up at your event, make sure to get their contact information so you can send them future volunteer opportunities.
8. Send direct messages on LinkedIn
Direct messages on LinkedIn are harder to ignore than some other means of communicating over social media. Users will get a notification about your message, and it will have a personal touch to it, which is always nice.
Look for LinkedIn users within your service area who have a history of volunteer work listed on their profile. Reaching out to these individuals helps you tap into people already excited about volunteer work.
9. Place ads in local media outlets such as TV, radio, and newspapers
Many local media outlets will offer low cost or free messaging for nonprofits or community groups. Reach out to your local TV broadcasts, radio stations, and newspapers to place ads about your volunteer needs. This is a great way to reach a broad audience.
10. Find a corporate partner
Corporations are prioritizing social responsibility more and more. You can use this sentiment to discover new corporate partners whose employees could become volunteers. A great way to kick off a corporate partnership is to host a volunteer day.
For example, let’s say your organization is a homeless shelter and your new corporate partner plans to donate $10,000 toward your remodeling. To kick off this partnership, you could host a “shelter beautification” day where the corporate sponsor’s employees come to help clean, plant flowers, meet your residents, and make your facility a more welcoming place to stay.
Some of these employees might then choose to become long-term volunteers.
11. Make it simple to register for opportunities
Everyone is busy, so the easier you can make it to volunteer, the better. Don’t make supporters jump through hoops to sign up to volunteer. Instead, only request necessary information on sign-up forms. You’ll want basic contact information so you can keep in touch with them about future opportunities, but this isn’t the time to capture their complete profile.
12. Reach out to donors
Existing and past donors are also an easy option for volunteer recruitment. They’re more likely to want to volunteer because they already have an affinity for your cause.
When reaching out to them, remember to thank them for their past support and then let them know there’s another way they could help you out as a volunteer. Odds are they’ll be touched that you thought of them for the opportunity!
No matter which volunteer recruitment ideas you decide to try, a membership management system makes it easy to identify and reach out to former volunteers, existing volunteers, prospective volunteers, and donors.
When you’re ready to maximize your membership management software for volunteer recruitment, make sure to also check out our Ultimate Guide to Volunteer Management for more tips and tricks!