Recruiting volunteers for your nonprofit can be a daunting task. You’re not just asking someone to give you their time and energy, but you’re asking them to help make a difference in the world. It’s an important job and one that requires a lot of thought, planning, and execution.
So, how do you find the right people to fill your volunteer roles?
What is volunteer recruitment?
Volunteer recruitment is the process of finding, training, and managing volunteers for a particular organization or cause. It involves actively seeking out potential volunteers and informing them about the opportunities available within the organization.
Recruitment also includes making sure that the right volunteers are selected for the right roles, as well as providing training, support, and guidance to ensure that the volunteers are successful in their roles. Ultimately, volunteer recruitment is critical to ensuring that organizations have the resources they need to achieve their goals.
Why is volunteer recruitment so important?
Recruiting volunteers for your organization is essential for its success. Volunteers are a vital source of support and can help you achieve your mission and goals. They provide the manpower and skills necessary to help with projects, events, marketing, outreach, and more.
They also provide an additional layer of accountability and transparency, which is essential for meeting the needs of the community. Volunteer recruitment also helps build relationships with potential donors and corporate partners who may be interested in supporting your cause. With the right volunteers, you can make a bigger impact in your community and beyond.
Recruiting volunteers isn’t just about getting more people to help out—it’s about building a strong team that will help you reach your goals.
What are the recruitment challenges that nonprofits face?
Recruiting volunteers to a nonprofit organization can be a challenge. With limited budgets and resources, nonprofits often find it difficult to find and maintain suitable volunteers. Here are some common obstacles recruiters face.
Nonprofits aren’t using an effective recruitment strategy
Many organizations are still using an outdated method of recruitment. The first step to improving your recruitment strategy is to learn about the current, more effective methods for recruiting volunteers. The most effective strategy targets both active and inactive volunteers.
Nonprofits aren’t meeting volunteers where they are
If you want to make sure you’re reaching your target audience and attracting the right kind of volunteers to your organization, you need to be where they are. By creating your nonprofit’s website and social media profiles in a way that appeals to the right audience and encourages them to get involved, you’ll be able to find the right volunteers for your cause.
Volunteers are too busy
It can be hard to find the time to volunteer, especially for people who are already busy with work and family commitments. The good news is that more and more people are realizing the benefits of volunteering, and, therefore, are finding the time to volunteer. Volunteering doesn't have to be a big commitment. People can provide support to your community with an opportunity that doesn't require too much of their time.
Volunteers aren’t excited
The best way to ensure that your organization has a steady stream of volunteers is to make sure that you are communicating the benefits of volunteering. You want to make sure that your organization is attractive to the type of volunteers you are looking for, so it is important to make sure that you are providing the right volunteer experience for your volunteers.,
15+ ways to supercharge volunteer recruitment
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and make a difference in the world. But it can be difficult to find volunteers who are willing to commit their time and energy to your cause. To maximize your efforts and recruit more volunteers, here are 15 tips to help you supercharge your volunteer recruitment
1. Diversify your opportunities
One of the best ways to secure volunteers is to make sure you're asking your volunteers to do a range of different activities. If you're asking them to do the same thing every week, you're missing out on the chance to develop their skills in different ways, and also to help them to meet a much wider range of people. You're also missing a chance to capture the interest of new people who want to volunteer but just don't want to phone bank, for example.
2. Tap into volunteer incentives
If you want to recruit more volunteers, you need to find a way to motivate them. A great way to accomplish this is to offer perks to volunteers. These incentives can be anything from a free meal to a free t-shirt.
Here are some no-cost examples of volunteer incentives:
- A chance to make friends or network
- An opportunity to build a resume or portfolio of work
- The ability to explore a potential career path
- A chance to build skills and learn
Think about the kind of opportunities your ideal volunteer is looking for and communicate how your event gives them exactly that.
3. Partner with local businesses
Partnering with local businesses is a great way to promote volunteer opportunities within your community. It shows that you are a part of the community and that you care about it as a whole. It's a great way to get the word out about what you do and how people can get involved.
4. Pursue volunteer grants
Volunteer grants are not only great ways to generate additional dollars from corporations, but they're also a great way to incentivize prospective volunteers to sign up with you. Some employees - a barista at Starbucks, for example - may not be aware that their company has a matching grant opportunity ("if I volunteer 5 hours, this nonprofit will also get $25 from my company"). Letting them know can be a motivator. As an aside, you may want to research former (or even recent) volunteers in your database to see if they work at a company that has a matching program; its existence may encourage them to come back.
5. Target the right candidates
Recruiting volunteers takes plenty of effort, so sure you're targeting the right candidates. The best way to do this is to make sure you're targeting the people who are most likely to be interested in your cause. There may be generational differences within that group of interested prospective volunteers. For example, how you reach out to potential Gen Z volunteers may look and sound different than outreach to a member of the Baby Boomer generation.
No matter what, you must know your audience. For example, if you're organizing an event for a specific charity, focus on marketing your event to people who are showing interest in things adjacent to the charity's mission. Raising money for a school? Market the event to parents, at children's sports games, etc.
Make sure you're using the right tools, such as social media, to reach these people. Knowing the general type of people who engage on Facebook, Twitter, etc. will help ensure your marketing effort is focused on the proper platform.
6. Set clear expectations
It's important to set the right expectations for volunteers. This way, volunteers can decide if the role or activity is a good fit for them and you can think through exactly what you need from your volunteers. You want them to know not just what's expected of them but also what they should expect from you.
If you're not clear about expectations, you'll end up with a lot of volunteers who don't know what they should be doing. This will make it difficult to get them to achieve the results you want and might discourage them from volunteering again.
7. Get organized
Establishing clear objectives is essential for nonprofit organizations. An unstructured recruitment strategy can give volunteers doubts about their involvement. Tracking volunteer hours and timetables are just a couple of methods for managing volunteers. Having an organized system that does both - and more - helps to avoid mistakes and miscommunications.
8. Be transparent
Transparency is key in making sure that everyone understands exactly what's expected of them, and what the organization provides in return. This will not only help you find the right people for your team, but it will also help to build a sense of trust between you and your volunteers.
9. Encourage feedback
Being a volunteer is hard work. It's also a great privilege to be able to give back to your community and help those who need it most. Encourage them to give feedback about their experience. This provides insights that you can use to improve and maintain a good volunteer experience.
Surveys can help you ensure your volunteers are appropriately nurtured and highlight communication gaps. It's a great way to build a stronger relationship between the volunteers and your nonprofit because you're signaling that you care about them, not just about what they do for your cause.
10. Build relationships
There is no better way to build relationships than to be out there, talking to people and showing them that there are real people behind the cause. Building relationships with volunteers is a great way to make sure you're attracting the type of volunteers you need for your organization.
11. Go digital
A variety of websites are available to link volunteers with nonprofit organizations, matching preferences on both sides. These websites allow nonprofits to register their organization and post future volunteer openings to attract potential volunteers.
A distinct advantage of using these websites is that the volunteers you're matched with are people who are actively looking for an opportunity to get involved in your nonprofit's mission. Before you spend a dime on other volunteer recruitment strategies, set up a profile on the following websites:
You might be surprised by how many qualified volunteers you receive.
12. Require an application
Whether you're looking for high school students, professionals, or people in general, it's important to make sure the application process is clear and easy. A great way to reduce the amount of time your volunteers spend filling out forms is to ask them to apply online. This can be done using a simple application form that's built into your volunteer management software, such as Civic Champs. By using this method, you can collect all the necessary information you need in a neat, organized format.
13. Communicate Impact
By communicating the impact that volunteers have on the mission, you can help recruit new volunteers and inspire current volunteers to do more. Tell your volunteers how their time helps your organization achieve its mission and goals. This help volunteers understand how their skills benefit your organization.
Various websites have been created to help link volunteers with nonprofit organizations that match their values. Before investing in other recruitment strategies, it is worth setting up a profile on VolunteerMatch, Create the Good, GiveGab, Dosomething.org, and Volunteer.gov. You may find that the qualified volunteers you receive exceed your expectations.
14. Offer flexible degrees of commitment
Consider the different ways you can recruit volunteers to meet the needs of your organization. Offer different levels of commitment for each volunteer role, which will allow you to find the perfect match for each opportunity. You could also offer an alternative way to volunteer, such as from home or by mentoring a new volunteer. You should also consider offering flexible schedules with part-time, evening, or weekend recurring activities.
15. Value your current volunteers
You can show your appreciation to your volunteers by thanking them for volunteering and taking the time to help you. It's also important to recognize their contributions and to show them how their volunteer work is meaningful by explaining the impact that they've made.
Volunteers can leave your nonprofit for several reasons, so it's important to show how much you value them and how much their efforts are appreciated. If they decide to leave, try to get feedback about why and use that information to nurture current volunteers.
16. Consider former volunteers
Some people who have volunteered in the past might not realize how much better their experience could have been if they had been recruited more effectively. Revisit former volunteers and tell them how things have changed, what new opportunities are available, and how much you would appreciate it if they'd come back.
Follow this guide to overcome volunteer recruitment challenges
For any nonprofit, recruiting new volunteers is essential, yet it can be a daunting task. Look at the recruitment challenges your organization is facing and can come up with a plan to boost your volunteer recruitment. With the right strategies in place, you can develop meaningful, beneficial volunteer relationships. Utilize the tips mentioned above to get started and make a real impact!