Four tips that will help you recruit college volunteers

If a nonprofit is located near a community college or university, it has some built-in advantages. College students are energetic, enthusiastic, and bright young people who are eager to gain experience while making a difference in the world. In fact, 33% of volunteers identify “professional networking and development” as motivating factors for working with a charity.

College volunteers are idealistic and likely to spread your message. They may also be more likely to transition into donors following a volunteer experience. On average, people who have volunteered in the past year donate ten times more money to charities than non-volunteers. Furthermore, 67% of those who volunteered in the last year say that they will make donations to the same nonprofits at which they volunteered.


When you properly engage with undergraduates, their specialized skills can become an asset to any nonprofit organization. We’ve compiled these four tips to help you acquire more student volunteers.

Partner with a local service-learning program

Reach out to your local college or university and see if they have a service-learning curriculum. Volunteerism is apart of these classes, so students are more likely to be interested in volunteer opportunities. Students have new ideas, specialized skills, and unique connections that they can bring to your organization. As the community youth become ambassadors for your nonprofit, you’ll enjoy increased invisibility and public support, as well as the chance to retain your student volunteers past graduation.

If the school has volunteer-recruitment software, post your volunteer opportunities and specify the skills you’re after. Students who feel that their skills and interests are being met are more likely to repeatedly volunteer, to feel dedicated to your mission, and to become donors later on.

Get social

If you’re not already on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, sign up and get posting! I’m sure that Facebook and Twitter are already apart of your social strategy, but nonprofits would be wise to look into Instagram as well.

Instagram is a photo-sharing site where you can post original photos, which is perfect for your organization’s visual storytelling efforts. Instagram users are typically between the ages of 18-29, so the platform already has the perfect target audience for recruiting college-aged volunteers. You can also “regram” other people’s photos, stream live video to your followers, and use hashtags to join relevant conversations. It’s a good idea to meet your college volunteer prospects where they already are–online– and Instagram is a great way to do that.

Contact student government and student clubs

Shoot an email to the campus’s student government and student organization departments. In your email, inquire about a partnership between your organization and a student group. By targeting a club that has a similar mission to your own nonprofit, you’ll find the students who are most interested in your cause. Your organization can become a meaningful extension of what they’re already doing on campus.

Keep in mind that many schools require student organizations to commit to a certain number of volunteer hours in order to get funding. Find out if your local college requires this, and if so, offer to partner with the clubs for a day of service or a service-learning project.

Go Greek


Fraternities and sororities are often a central part of campus life. While most people associate them with the college social scene, these student organizations belong to an actively philanthropic system. In fact, Greek affiliates volunteer an average of 850,000 hours for charitable causes, with a total donation of $7 million to both nonprofits and universities.

A survey from NP catalyst found that 95% of Greek advisors said that philanthropy within their organization is important or extremely important. One hundred percent of survey respondents had raised money for nonprofit organizations, and 60% had partnered with a local nonprofit.

The Greek community represents an incredibly large force of volunteers! Reach out to these organizations early in the semester and see if you can partner with them. They may just be the perfect partners to make a huge impact in your community.

If you look to service-learning programs, social media, student organizations, and fraternities and sororities, you should find an abundance of motivated individuals who will volunteer at your nonprofit. Keep in mind that college students have busy schedules, so contact them as soon as possible for the best response.  Good luck!

How do YOU acquire college volunteers? Let us know in the comments.


By | 2017-02-09T11:09:43+00:00 January 20th, 2017|Nonprofit Resources|6 Comments

About the Author:

Annelise is an avid traveler, photographer, and writer. When she’s not at Galaxy Digital, you can find her studying Japanese, binge-watching television, or parenting her two cats, Gatsby and Stella.


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