Volunteer Management

Winning Volunteer Recruitment Strategies for Nonprofits

Volunteers are the lifeline of many nonprofits and charities. They provide critical labor and expertise, and volunteers from a broad base of society bring fresh thoughts and growth to charity organizations. A culture that acts and thinks alike has less room for expansion and creativity.

Why Do People Volunteer?

Recruiting volunteers gives pause for nonprofits to look at who they are targeting and how they are doing it. Diverse fundraising teams attract new donors and volunteers.

People volunteer for various reasons:

  • Many volunteers wish to give something back to their community and make a difference
  • For others volunteering provides a chance to gain experience or skills in a new area of interest or for a new job market
  • Many people enjoy meeting new people or working as part of a team on volunteer projects

Recruitment Strategies

5 Strategies to Recruit a Diverse Pool of Volunteers

Nonprofits are able to target a diverse audience of volunteers through specific recruitment strategies. Maybe your organization is in need of a new recruitment strategy? Here are some ideas for finding new volunteers for your organization.

Seek Corporate Partnerships

Partnerships between businesses and charity organizations in volunteerism benefit both parties. Talented professionals pursue companies who give back to society. Thus many employers actively engage in socially responsible efforts. It is as much about fulfillment as it is dollars for businesses and nonprofits. If nonprofits create a flexible environment and means of engagement, they benefit from the talents of corporate employees. A win is found for corporations by keeping their talent on board and providing a chance for enrichment.

Volunteer partnerships between corporations and nonprofits also provide opportunities for corporate teams to learn to function well together and build trust. Their interactions during volunteer work are more intimate and heartfelt than in the board room. Corporate employees discover improved self-esteem as a result of their positive volunteer experiences. Studies thus show improved conflict management and decision making in employees.

Attract Young Volunteers

Social media platforms, especially Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, are a great way to attract young volunteers. A visual presentation appeals to a young audience. Young volunteers of the same age range tend to share their photos and stories on social media platforms. A chance for them to meet new friends by working together is a most appealing and alluring incentive. Recruitment in person also works with this audience in visiting universities and alumni institutions as well as youth groups.

Keep young volunteers around by offering incentives such as internships and writing letters of reference. Managing a full fundraising event from start to finish is great work experience. Put the pressure on them to do well by offering job recommendations and extra credit opportunities. A one-year volunteer internship looks great on a resume. Work in collaboration with nearby universities and high schools to find these recruits.

How you work with young volunteers is a strong consideration in keeping them around. Consider their age in terms of mindset, attention span, and interest in technology. Involve them in decisions and learn from them. Find out what roles are best for young adults by asking and listening to them. Assign team leaders who speak their language.

Open the Door to Diversity

Perhaps your nonprofit tends to recruit similar kinds of people as those who are already involved as volunteers. This is great if you are building a particular kind of organizational culture, but can be limiting if you want to bring some diversity into your volunteer programs.

Streamlining your recruitment process can make it easier for volunteers from diverse backgrounds to get involved. Consider reducing the number of forms and paperwork, or include this in the interview process where you can assist the volunteer to fill them out when needed. This may open the door to volunteers of varying levels of education and language background.

Foster Partnerships with Employment Agencies

Create partnerships with local employment agencies and unemployment offices. Job seekers can find training through volunteering by running special events, outreach to donors and recruiting other volunteers. New connections are made with regard to potential employers and networking with other professionals.

Job seekers are able to step into the doorways of companies that have a strong culture of social responsibility with volunteer experience. Volunteers stand out in the job market due to the commitment they’ve shown to giving back. Volunteering found on resumes is a topic of conversation in interviews. Unemployed folks using their time to gain new skills and help nonprofits shows real initiative and proactive thinking.

Provide Virtual Volunteering Options

Bring diversity in volunteerism to your nonprofit by reaching a global audience through virtual volunteering. Virtual volunteers work by phone or online to help nonprofits with online marketing and non-profit SEO strategies, IT, research projects and more. Virtual volunteering allows employees, in partnership with nonprofits, to work on projects without scheduling confines. Add a section on virtual volunteering to your nonprofit website defining your needs. Make it easy for global volunteers to connect with your organization.

More Volunteer Recruitment Advertising Strategies

If your nonprofit is looking for new volunteers, here are some advertising strategies to get you started:

  • Host a volunteer day with festivities, free food and drinks, and program information booths. While fundraising events (such as walkathon fundraisers) can bring new volunteers to nonprofits, a day set aside to meet potential volunteers is more focused.
  • Ask community leaders to promote volunteer opportunities and their benefits. Teachers at universities may share inspiration to students, parents and other teachers. Doctors and lawyers may wish to keep your marketing materials in their lobby as a way to help you recruit more volunteers. Community leaders may wish to be a part of a lecture series on volunteering held at your nonprofit.
  • Contact your local TV and radio stations with interesting stories about a volunteer or your nonprofit projects. Host a call-in to promote your organization and the richness of volunteering. Place short radio and TV ads on the benefits of volunteering and being involved your nonprofit in particular.
  • Post stories and photos of volunteers on your nonprofit website homepage. Add a volunteer section to your website. Elaborate on the benefits of volunteering for your nonprofit. Post a volunteer sign-up link to your fundraising websites and organization website.
  • Host fundraising events that can be managed by volunteers. Give them opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment and a desire to manage the next event. Charity galas, golf tournaments and peer-to-peer fundraising events hold many roles for volunteers.
  • Advertise in your newsletter, and community, business and school newsletters. Find opportunities to advertise in newsletters with libraries, job programs, vocational training centers and any relevant places to find volunteers. And as always, think outside of the box.
  • Place a volunteer recruitment ad in local newspapers. Add openings for volunteers and internships in the jobs section. Create an opportunity for publications to offer their ad space free and grow their business through social consciousness.
  • Hold information sessions at community centers and at your nonprofit. Brief sessions allow your nonprofit to cover more ground and find volunteers in places you may not expect.
  • Create fliers, posters and postcards and distribute them in key places around your community. High-school students are good volunteers for helping you with the distribution. Offer them an opportunity to work with college students and your staff in learning how to create marketing materials.

Opportunities and benefits for both volunteers and nonprofits are vast in the arena of volunteerism. Consider how to recruit new energy and faces and listen to your current volunteers. Crowdfunding for nonprofits alone funnels a steady stream of new and diverse volunteers to the scene. Strategies that reach a cross-section of society create the strongest base and generate creativity and diversity of thought.

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About Maureen Peine

Maureen has been writing and marketing for DoJiggy for over 7 years, and has a strong background in nonprofit fundraising. While with The Nature Conservancy for 7 years prior to DoJiggy, she learned the inner workings of marketing to the State of California within the external affairs department. Her heart is in her writing as she believes in the power of change through nonprofit organizations.
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