How to Recruit College Volunteers: 5 Ways to Grow Your Program

If a nonprofit is located near a community college or university, it has some built-in advantages. College volunteers can be a valuable addition to your volunteer program; and with a competitive job market, college students are increasingly turning to volunteer organizations to help them develop real-world skills and boost their resumes. So why not focus your recruitment efforts on local college students?

Keep reading to learn how to recruit college volunteers successfully to grow your volunteer program. But first, let’s have a closer look at the benefits of college student volunteers. 

Why Should Your Program Recruit College Student Volunteers? 

College volunteers tend to be 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. 

What’s more, college volunteers tend to be passionate 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.

When it comes to your volunteers, college students can be equally engaged and dedicated as your more established helpers. They have a wealth of specialized skills that can become an asset to any organization. So we’ve compiled these 5 tips to help you acquire more student volunteers.

1. Partner with a Local Service-Learning Program

A community benefits when its organizations come together for good. If you can bolster lasting, collaborative partnerships with local campuses, you’re more likely to achieve greater outcomes. Reach out to colleges and universities in your area and determine if they have a service-learning curriculum. Volunteerism is a fundamental component of service-learning, so students enrolled in a service-learning class are more likely to be interested in your 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.

A volunteer management and recruitment software can help you connect with campuses and engage student volunteers. 

2. Get Social

If you’re not already on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, sign up and get posting! Facebook and Twitter may already be part of your social strategy, but volunteer organizations should consider 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. Invite your current young volunteers to use your organization’s hashtag and share their volunteerism experiences with friends. 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.

Social media accounts like Instagram are a great way to highlight the efforts of your volunteers. If you want to focus your recruitment efforts on college volunteers, why not feature some of your young volunteers in a regular “Volunteer Spotlight” post on Instagram or Twitter. You may just encourage other college students to volunteer. 

3. Contact Student Government and Student Clubs

Reach out via phone or email to the campus’ student government and student organization departments. In your outreach, 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.

Need recruitment ideas for college clubs? Here are a few specific ways to engage college volunteers involved in campus-led organizations:

    • Host a booth at college club fairs: Student involvement fairs are a great place to share your program’s mission and help college students volunteer. 
    • Attend the campus job fair: Campuses host job fairs to help students connect with professional opportunities. Campus job fairs are also a great place to present local volunteer opportunities for college students.
    • Reach out to campus religious groups: Religious groups on campus often look to give back to their communities. Partner with church groups to provide opportunities for college students to volunteer. 

4. 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 active 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. They may just be the perfect partners to make a huge impact in your community.

5. Appeal To Their Interests

How do you provide the best volunteer opportunities for college students? By appealing to their interests! College students are busy. If they are going to take the time to volunteer, they’re likely to look for (1) opportunities they’re passionate about, (2) opportunities that utilize their skills and knowledge, (3) opportunities for growth, and (4) opportunities that fit their schedule. What’s more, finding valuable volunteerism opportunities should be as simple as possible for prospects. When presenting your program to college students, you’ll want to highlight specific volunteer opportunities college students will find worthwhile. 

One of the best ways to match volunteers with opportunities they’ll enjoy is to employ a volunteer management platform. A smart volunteer management software like Get Connected can help college volunteers search for opportunities based on their interests and skills–and can even automatically recommend opportunities based on their criteria–so they’ll get more out of their volunteering experience.

Plus, students who feel that their skills and interests are being met are more likely to volunteer repeatedly, feel dedicated to your mission, and become donors later on. 

College volunteers are an asset to any nonprofit. 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. 

Get in touch with us to learn how to recruit college volunteers.

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