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Volunteer Recruitment Ideas

The Definitive Guide + 16 Proven Strategies for Getting Volunteers

Free Volunteer Recruitment eBook

What Is Volunteer Recruitment? Volunteer recruitment is the process of attracting and screening candidates for volunteer work. When recruiting volunteers, community-based organizations seek qualified, enthusiastic community members to fill specific positions or grow and maintain their pool of on-hand volunteers.

Recruiting volunteers is an integral part of the volunteer management process. It’s one of the first elements that volunteer professionals look to when developing a successful and sustainable volunteer program

If your organization relies on volunteers to help deliver essential services to your community, you’ll need a volunteer recruitment strategy!

In this article, you’ll learn about: 

Volunteering Recruitment Basics

What exactly is volunteer recruitment, and why should you set your sights on boosting your volunteer recruitment efforts? 

Below, we’ll set the stage by answering frequently asked volunteer recruitment questions. 

What Are Volunteer Recruitment Strategies?

A volunteer recruitment strategy organizes your recruitment efforts so that you can grow your volunteer pool and your impact in an efficient, sustainable, and scalable way.

Asking people to volunteer is one thing, but getting volunteers to come to you is another. Think about it: reaching out to many people individually is time-consuming and not scalable. That’s where your recruitment strategy comes in. Your plan will incorporate efficient tools and processes to attract people who consistently fulfill your volunteer needs while fitting the ethos of your organization.

Still trying to figure out where to start? Your volunteer recruitment strategy should address these questions:

  • What are our organization’s volunteer needs?
  • What effective messaging can we use to appeal to new volunteers?
  • What recruitment channels are we currently using to reach prospective volunteers? What new channels can we explore?
  • What tools do we have in place to recruit volunteers efficiently and effectively? 
  • Is our recruitment plan sustainable and scalable?

Whether you’re starting a new volunteer program or want to ramp up your efforts, we’ll guide you through creating and improving your volunteer recruitment strategy. 

Want the Volunteer Manager’s Guide to Volunteer Recruitment?

Why Is Volunteer Recruitment Important? 

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Volunteer recruitment helps volunteer programs, nonprofits, companies, and other community-based associations make our shared communities better places to live, work, and play. 

There are many benefits to recruiting volunteers that go beyond filling your existing shifts:

  • Grow Your Program. Maybe you rely on a handful of committed volunteers but want to increase your impact. Recruiting volunteers will help you expand your volunteer pool and grow your program.
  • Increase Funding. Volunteers can bring in more funding to your organization. This Role of Volunteering in Philanthropy report found that volunteers donate ten times more money to charities than non-volunteers. Moreover, 67% of those who volunteered said they would donate to the same nonprofits where they had served.
  • Strengthen Your Community. Volunteers deliver services that directly impact communities and community members across the country. This generous spirit is contagious and ultimately strengthens the places we call home. 
  • Reduce Operational Costs. It’s no secret that charitable organizations are often stretched thin. Volunteers not only deliver services directly to clients, but they can also help support day-to-day operations, such as marketing or fundraising.

Download the FREE Volunteer Recruitment eBook!

Volunteer recruitment importance, benefits and statistics

Volunteers contribute $203.4 billion to the United States through nonprofit organizations. Without volunteers, many organizations could not deliver the services many communities rely upon. A volunteer recruitment process enables organizations to fill this need for volunteers.

Now that we’ve covered the what and why of volunteer recruitment, let’s get to the good stuff:

How to find the best volunteers for your organization!

Recruiting Volunteers: How to Get People to Volunteer

We get it—just the thought of asking anyone to contribute time is daunting. But with this approach, you’ll hear many more “yeses” than you think! 

How to Recruit New Volunteers

In this section, we’ll learn how to find new volunteers and, even better, help volunteers find you. We’ll even learn how to leverage the volunteers you already have. Here are 16 steps you can take to recruit great volunteers:

1) Identify Your Organization’s Needs

2) Craft Your Volunteer Recruitment Message [with Examples]

3) Target Your Recruitment Campaign

4) Recruit Volunteers

5) Use Multiple Recruitment Channels

6) Encourage Word-of-Mouth Recruitment

7) Form Meaningful Partnerships

8) Prioritize Diversity and Inclusivity

9) Make Volunteerism More Accessible

10) Screen Your Volunteer Recruits

11) Employ Volunteer Ambassadors

12) Adopt a Volunteer Management System

13) Survey Your Volunteers

14) Focus on Retention

15) Reward Your Volunteers

16) Share Your Impact

Now, let’s dive deeper into each of these steps…

1) Identify Your Organization’s Needs

The first step in taking on volunteers is understanding how to use them. You’ll want to gather your team to figure out your organization’s needs and the needs of your community

Evaluate any gaps in your volunteer program, as well as the day-to-day operations of your organization. 

There are plenty of ways volunteers can support your organization. Many programs call on volunteers to work directly with community members, whether serving warm meals at a shelter or maintaining public hiking trails. However your program serves the community, volunteers are some of your greatest assets in delivering these services directly to its members.

But there are also plenty of other ways your volunteers can help beyond direct service. Here are just a few examples of how volunteers can make a difference in your organization:

  • Fundraising for your organization
  • Providing administrative assistance
  • Supporting advocacy initiatives
  • Maintaining your organization’s social media accounts
  • Event set-up and ticket sales
  • Serving on your organization’s board
  • Research and consulting
  • Community liaison 

Download the FREE Volunteer Recruitment eBook!

Now you know your organization’s volunteer needs, but how to recruit your volunteers will also depend on your target audience and the resources available to you.

TL;DR: Understand your organization's needs and gaps to effectively recruit volunteers tailored to your requirements, such as administrative support, fundraising, or community service.

2) Craft Your Volunteer Recruitment Message [with Examples]

Your recruitment message is the key information you want to tell your community about your organization to get them on board with your cause. This message should be enticing while representing your organization’s collective voice. 

For example, will you welcome potential volunteers with a warm message? Or will you appeal to people’s sense of urgency by asking your audience to take action now? 

Having a unified, clear, and enticing message prepared will help significantly boost your recruitment success rate. 

Let’s discover how to create an appeal that really converts: 

Download the free Volunteer Recruitment eBook! 

Create a Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a written prompt that tells an audience to take a specific action.

You'll want to include a call to action whenever you pitch your volunteer program to community partners and prospective volunteers. The call to action drives your community to be proactive.

Here are a few tips for writing punchy, inviting CTAs:

Inform Your Audience

Remember, people may not know you need them. Before asking people to take action, let them know what you need—volunteers!

We’re a grassroots climate advocacy group that relies on volunteers like you! Sign up to change our world for the better.
Lead with Strong Verbs

A description of your volunteer needs only goes so far. You need to follow your opportunity description with a command. A command is usually a descriptive verb that compels people to take action. 

Specific action words like “subscribe,” “register,” and “sign-up” let people know exactly what you want them to do. 

So instead of saying, “We’re looking for volunteers to help us,” try this: 

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the know about upcoming volunteer opportunities!
Show Your Personality

Whether you’re posting your CTA on social media or your community bulletin board, you’re vying for people’s attention. So how do you stick out from the crowd?

Let your personality shine through, and don’t be afraid to have fun with your CTAs!

We see you’re pretty amazing at graphic design. Why not volunteer your unique skills? Register here! 
Know Your Audience

You’ll want your CTA to be specific enough to appeal to the right people: 

For example, if you’re looking for anyone and everyone to help out at your next event, a general CTA like this will work for you: 

“Hi, everyone! Are you ready to volunteer with us? Register here!”

Or maybe you’re searching for individuals with unique skills? Try a specific CTA like this: 

“Do you speak fluent Spanish? Apply to join our team of community advocates and make a difference today!”

Ready to take action? Learn more about writing and using CTAs for your volunteer opportunities.

Master the Volunteer Job Description

Your CTAs will usually lead prospects to your volunteer opportunities. So, you’ll want to prepare clear role descriptions that let volunteers know what you’re asking them to do.

Your volunteer job description should include this information:

  • Role Title - Write a creative and descriptive title for your volunteer opportunity; it’s the first thing prospects will identify with.
  • Ask a Question - Use your targeted recruitment message by asking a question that helps your audience self-identify if they’re the right fit for this opportunity.
  • Invitation - Next, let people know who you’re looking for and invite prospects to get involved.
  • Description - After you have their attention, describe what the job entails, why you need them, and any qualifications required to volunteer.
  • Call to Action - Use your CTA from the previous exercise to compel volunteers to sign-up. 
  • Additional Details - Follow up with any additional information and logistics. 

 Download the FREE Volunteer Recruitment eBook!

Now it’s time to put all these elements together! Here’s an example of a successful volunteer job description:

Meal Delivery Heroes!

Do you care about access to healthful fresh food for our community? If you have at least two hours a week, you can give to this cause. You may be just the hero we’re looking for!

We’re searching for Meal Delivery Heroes to deliver fresh food to community members who would not otherwise have access.

On the job, you’ll pick up pre-packed veggie boxes from our downtown location and deliver them to 5-10 locations nearby. 

We need volunteers who can commit to at least one scheduled shift per week taking place on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Your time commitment would be two hours or less, including pick-up and delivery. 

Our mission is to provide fresh food to communities living in food deserts, and the Meal Delivery Hero program is a big part of that vision, as it helps us include those who are unable to travel to our location. 

Join our fleet of Meal Delivery Heroes today!

Once you’ve completed your application form, you’re required to complete a background check, attend orientation, and then go on a route with an experienced Hero to train in our team process. 

* Masks must be worn for the full shift.

Read our article all about writing irresistible volunteer job descriptions

TL;DR: Craft a compelling recruitment message with a clear call to action (CTA) that reflects your organization's needs and personality. Supplement this with detailed volunteer job descriptions.

3) Target Your Recruitment Campaign

Instead of casting a wide net, opt for a more targeted recruitment strategy. Targeted recruitment means you’re directing your message to a target audience. Targeted recruitment helps you find passionate volunteers with the skills and qualifications needed for your volunteer opportunities

Here’s how you can target your campaign for more successful volunteer recruitment: 

  • Direct your recruitment materials toward smaller special interest groups, community Facebook and LinkedIn groups, cultural societies, language societies, and more. 
  • Leverage your CRM to segment your contacts and identify volunteer groups based on data such as skills, passions, and previous engagement. 
  • Adopt a volunteer management software to track volunteers’ preferences when registering with your organization and automatically recommend opportunities based on these preferences.  
  • Create a personal, specific ask that prospects can identify with. Suppose you’re looking for French translators. In that case, your recruitment message may read: “Are you a French-speaking individual who loves making a difference in your community? Volunteer with us today!” 

TL;DR: Use a targeted recruitment approach that focuses on specific audiences with the skills and qualifications you require. Leverage CRM data and volunteer management software to personalize your outreach.

4) Recruit Volunteers: Creative Ways to Ask for Volunteers

Many organizations still incorporate standbys like flyers and volunteer fairs into their recruitment strategy, and these methods are great! But these days, volunteer programs are finding success by recruiting volunteers online. Web-based recruitment is cost-effective and often allows volunteer managers to cast a wider net than analog methods. 

Social Media Recruitment Channels

Social media is undoubtedly one of your most powerful recruitment tools. But how do you get your appeal for volunteers in enough hands? Take to social media! While your call for supporters might not reach millions overnight, you can use these pro-social media tactics or these top social media content tips for going viral to help broaden your reach.  

  • Facebook - Facebook is still the most popular social media channel. You can leverage this platform to share information about your organization’s culture, images from past events, and maintain a flowing communication channel between your organization and your volunteers. 
  • Instagram - Instagram is a popular social media that prioritizes visual elements like photos and videos. 
  • LinkedIn - Job sites are your secret to finding professional-level volunteers. Post volunteer opportunities and events to your organization’s LinkedIn profile. 
  • Twitter - Twitter is the second most popular social platform among nonprofits. It’s a platform for delivering snappy statements and supporting efficient interactions with your supporters. 
  • Youtube - Create engaging videos to share your message and draw in your audience. You can post your recruitment video to Youtube and embed it on your website and emails. 

Visit our blog for more ideas to boost your organization’s social media presence.

Send Text Blasts

Text messaging is the new frontier for volunteer recruitment and management. Send out text blasts, asking supporters to sign up for text alerts (you can do this through your volunteer registration portal). Include a snappy call to action like, “Calling all volunteers! We need you to help our annual 5K for Kids run smoothly. Click this link to sign-up today!”

To send text blasts efficiently, you’ll need the technology in place. A volunteer management software, CRM, or texting management system will allow you to personalize your text messages and record responses. Meanwhile, volunteers can quickly and easily sign-up for a volunteer opportunity directly through their smartphones. 

Email and Newsletters

Email is a great tool for keeping your community (including volunteers and donors) engaged throughout their journey with your organization. Email marketing has become so popular that most people encounter at least one daily marketing email (if not dozens). 

Why is it so popular? 

Email marketing is remarkably cost-effective (the return on investment for email marketing is $42 for $1 spent). In other words, email is a great way to recruit supporters. 

People read a lot of emails. Here’s how to make your recruitment message stand out: 

  • Start with a hook. Draw readers in with an eye-catching headline. Keep it volunteer-focused to get them to self-identify with your cause. 
  • State what you’re looking for. Get to the who, what, when, and where quickly. Keep it short and sweet!
  • Touch on the benefits. Describe the benefits of supporting your cause for both your volunteer and your organization. 
  • Share your impact. Your volunteers’ achievements will inspire others to get involved. 
  • Tell a story. Share a success story or quote a volunteer who had a positive experience with your organization. Adding a photo often helps!
  • End with a call-to-action. The call to action will ultimately drive interested individuals to get involved. End each recruitment message with a call to action communicating the next steps. Keep your call to action direct, for example, “Make a real difference today. Click here to apply.”

Learn from these email marketing campaign examples.

There are several ways to use recruitment emails and regular e-newsletters in your strategy: 

  • Turn donors into volunteers. Your organization’s donors are already invested in your cause. Segment your email list based on those who have donated, then ask them to lend a helping hand. Take your email strategy a step further by recommending volunteer opportunities based on their previous donation preferences. 
  • Re-engage lapsed volunteers. Don’t give up on your quiet volunteers just yet! Get them back with a “welcome back” email campaign that re-introduces your mission and highlights upcoming and exciting volunteer opportunities.
  • Inspire new contacts. Maybe you have collected email addresses from a recruitment event, community partnership, or recent registration. If they haven’t taken action, send your contacts an enticing call to action that excites them about your program. 

Volunteer recruitment email strategies to engage and retain volunteers

Paid Online Advertising

While online advertising can be more expensive than other recruitment channels, the results can be major. Online advertising is especially effective for that big recruitment “push” to drive people searching for volunteer opportunities to your website or volunteer platform. 

Unless you have an unlimited advertising budget, you’ll need to focus your ads on a target audience. The most popular platforms for distributing online ads are Google Ads, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 

If you choose to try out online advertising to recruit volunteers, we recommend taking advantage of Google Ad Grants. Google Ads are sponsored links at the top of any Google search. The ads will appear when a user enters a Google search related to your organization. 

For example, your Chicago-based animal shelter may want a Google Ad to appear whenever a user searches “animal shelter volunteer opportunities in Chicago.” Therefore, you’ll want to fully grasp your target recruitment audience before submitting your ads. 

These platforms offer various paid options, but most choose cost-per-click (CPC), so you only pay for your ad when people click on it.

If you think you’re ready to advertise online, we recommend checking out these resources on popular online advertising options: 

TL;DR: Leverage online recruitment methods, including social media, text blasts, email marketing, and paid online advertising. Use captivating content and a strong call to action to connect with potential volunteers.

5) Use Multiple Recruitment Channels

Broadening the reach of your volunteer recruitment efforts is a necessity. Social media, emails, text messages, newsletters, and even paid campaigns are fantastic tools, yet they only scratch the surface. Here's a revolutionary idea - why not try being everywhere your potential volunteers are?

Enter the world of multi-channel marketing. It's not as daunting as it might sound. This strategy involves reaching out and engaging with your prospects and supporters across various platforms. A clever multi-channel approach can increase engagement, connect with a larger audience, and grow your network.

The secret ingredient for success is a dash of discernment - choose your channels strategically. The platforms you select should align with where your current volunteers are active and where you envision finding fresh faces. Mixing and matching online and offline channels, from Facebook and email to old-school mailers, is perfectly okay.

This comprehensive section is worth checking out for a deep dive into marketing your volunteer opportunities.

Evaluating Recruitment Channel Costs and Resources

Budgets aren't bottomless, primarily when recruiting volunteers. More often than not, you're working with less than you'd like.

Assessing each recruitment channel's cost is crucial to make the most of what you have. This analysis helps you determine what resources you'll need, ensuring you allocate your budget effectively. 

It's not about doing more with less, but rather, doing better with what you have.

Low-Cost Volunteer Recruitment Channels

  • Social media posts
  • Group presentations
  • Volunteer recruitment flyers
  • Websites
  • Word-of-mouth recruitment 
  • Email newsletters

Moderate-Cost Volunteer Recruitment Channels

  • Internet advertisement
  • Community newspaper advertisement
  • Subscription-based volunteer recruitment software
  • Volunteer recruitment events

High-Cost Volunteer Recruitment Channels

  • Television advertisement
  • Radio advertisement
  • Regional newspaper advertisement
  • Billboards

Some recruitment channels might be moderately priced but highly impactful—say, volunteer recruitment software—and therefore worth the investment. That’s why it’s important to decide, as an organization, how you’ll allocate your recruitment budget. 

Download the FREE Volunteer Recruitment eBook!

TL;DR: Evaluate recruitment channels within your budget, comparing potential impact against costs. This can range from high-cost TV or radio ads to low-cost social media and email strategies.

6) Encourage Word-of-Mouth Recruitment

Word-of-mouth recruitment leverages the supporters you already have to recruit volunteers for you. The recruitment tactic encourages your current supporters and stakeholders to spread information about your programs to encourage like-minded people to volunteer or donate. 

It’s one of the most effective (and cost-effective) methods of recruiting volunteers.

So how does word-of-mouth work, exactly? 

Generally, people are more willing to trust friends, family, and colleagues' opinions than traditional marketing. So, when someone tells their coworker about the amazing experience they had volunteering for your organization last weekend, this coworker is more likely to remember your organization and consider volunteering with you in the future. 

So, if you want your current supporters to tell others about your organization, you need to foster positive interactions with your organization. What’s more, if you want your volunteers to tell others about your programs, you also need to encourage them to do so. 

Here are some ideas to optimize word-of-mouth referrals: 

  • Get organized. Making each volunteer’s experience memorable should be the priority. Ensuring every shift runs smoothly with easy on-site check-in and plenty of communication and support will make everything else easier.
  • Use social media. This helps spread the word about your volunteer opportunities. Ask your supporters and followers to share a post that promotes your program.
  • Ask your donors. Your donors already believe in your cause. Why not ask them to volunteer? Use your donor database to identify engaged supporters and inform them about your volunteer opportunities.
  • Communicate your volunteers’ impact. Let your current supporters know how important they are to your organization—recognition makes for happy volunteers!
  • Host Bring-a-Friend Week. Chances are your volunteers hang out with like-minded folks. Encourage them to bring along friends and colleagues. Make volunteering a social occasion by providing opportunities for collaboration (and fun!).
  • Make your opportunities family-friendly. This is a great way to get kids civically engaged from a young age and welcome new members, including parents who would otherwise need to secure childcare.
  • Form volunteer teams. Engage corporate teams, school groups, faith-based organizations, or any team wanting to take part together. It can help get more volunteers through the door more quickly.
  • Make group sign-up easy. Simple team sign-up reduces barriers to getting involved so that you can continue to recruit and retain more helping hands.

Don’t forget to check out our complete guide to word-of-mouth volunteer recruitment for even more program-growing tips! 

Volunteer recruitment word of mouth referral ideas and strategies

FREE DOWNLOAD
Don't forget your Volunteer Recruitment eBook!

Includes everything you need to know about the volunteer acquisition process, from virtual and in-person recruitment to volunteer skills matching.

 

TL;DR: Use word-of-mouth recruitment, leveraging trust within your existing supporter base. Create memorable experiences, engage donors, recognize volunteers' impact, and make signing up easy to encourage this method.

7) Form Meaningful Partnerships

Many volunteer programs rely on community partners, from campuses to local businesses, to fill critical volunteer roles and build capacity. Grow your network by working with like-minded organizations in your community.

Here’s how to form meaningful community partners to grow your volunteer network:

  • Do your research. Look for organizations with a presence in your community and who already have volunteer initiatives, like employee volunteerism or service-learning programs. 
  • Strive for relevance. Look for partners whose resources, skills, and interests suit your program.
  • Use personal connections. Board members, staff, and friendly neighbors may have ties to businesses and other organizations in your community. Don’t be afraid to ask around for referrals. 
  • Discuss values. Once you’ve identified potential partnerships, dig deeper to understand the organization’s culture and values. Remember, your partnership should be a two-way conversation. 

Of course, addressing community needs is a team effort. That’s why nonprofits and other volunteer programs form community partnerships with regional volunteer centers, local businesses, faith-based organizations, or other associations. 

Community partnerships can help your organization expand its network and create new funding opportunities. They can also help you target your volunteer recruitment methods to find volunteers with unique skills and professional experience

Download the Complete Guide to Volunteer Recruitment!

Here are some examples of partnerships to boost your recruitment efforts:

Corporate Partnerships

With the rise in popularity of corporate social responsibility and employee volunteer programs, more community organizations are turning to local companies for donations and volunteers.

Employee volunteers offer professional skills, experience, and connections with other community members. When your partnership is sustained over time, your organization can rely on a consistent source of volunteer involvement, donorship, and other resources. 

Follow these basic steps for identifying potential corporate partners:

  1. Do your research. Start by identifying businesses in your area that simply make sense. Does the company embrace a culture of giving back? Do employees have professional experience that may benefit your program or its clients? For example, local animal shelters may approach pet shops and veterinarian offices for volunteer services and fundraisers.
  2. Look for companies with VTO. Employee volunteer programs and volunteer time off (VTO) are becoming increasingly popular among community-conscious companies. Reach out to local businesses that offer VTO programs to forge mutually-beneficial partnerships.
  3. Leverage personal connections. Board members, staff, donors, and volunteers may have ties to businesses in your community. Don’t be afraid to ask around for referrals. 

Visit our guide to corporate partnerships for nonprofit organizations to learn how to forge and maintain strategic partnerships.

Other Community Partnerships

These days, everything is accomplished online. But we believe that nothing replaces face time (the real kind). The best way to develop meaningful human connections—and get people to believe in your cause— is to show up in person. So, why not recruit volunteers by appearing at places where interested people might gather? 

Many local associations and groups are made up of people with unique skills, experience, and knowledge of your shared community. Look for other groups interested in your cause, and work to establish an ongoing relationship with these communities. Encourage members to volunteer in teams; they’ll have lots of fun, and you’ll recruit more volunteers! 

Not sure where to start? Consider approaching these community groups:

  • Local schools, universities, and service-learning programs
  • Faith-based organizations 
  • Community fitness centers
  • Local book clubs
  • Sports teams
  • Public libraries
  • Scout troops and extracurricular societies

For instance, volunteer fairs are a great way to introduce many prospects to your cause. Host your fair at a location with lots of foot traffic, like your local university campus, businesses, community centers, or houses of worship. Invite community partners to attend. 

Set up booths and provide printed materials and swag so interested people can learn more. Post your social media handles so potential volunteers can keep in touch. And finally, make the event fun with games, live music, and food! 

TL;DR: Form community partnerships to enhance your volunteer network and funding opportunities. This includes corporations, community groups, and local organizations that align with your mission.

8) Prioritize Diversity and Inclusivity

Sustainable volunteer programs represent the diverse makeup and voices of their community members. Adopt better recruitment practices by prioritizing diversity and inclusivity in your recruitment efforts. To welcome new voices, reach out to leaders at community institutions that address diversity and equity, such as: 

  • Civic and cultural organizations
  • Neighborhood associations
  • Houses of worship
  • Elected offices
  • University clubs and Greek life organizations
  • Small business owners

Also, make sure to include your program participants, current volunteers, facilitators, and community partners in the recruitment process. Their active participation and input will ensure that your entire community is effectively represented.

TL;DR: Employ a multi-channel marketing strategy tailored to your audience, including online and offline methods. Prioritize diversity and inclusivity to ensure a sustainable and broad-reaching volunteer program.

9) Make Volunteerism More Accessible

Recruit more volunteers by making your volunteer program more accessible to a diverse range of people. You can cater to various abilities and preferences by adopting a flexible approach and introducing multiple modes of volunteering. Here are some key steps:

  • Expand Virtual Volunteering: With the rise in technology and remote working norms, virtual volunteering has become increasingly viable. This mode can accommodate individuals who may be unable to commit to in-person volunteering due to location, time constraints, or physical limitations. Virtual opportunities include online tutoring, administrative tasks, digital marketing, or remote project management.
  • Promote Wheelchair Accessibility: Clearly mark all volunteer opportunities that are accessible on your website, including those that are wheelchair friendly. By noting all types of accessibility, you enable potential volunteers to easily identify roles they will be comfortable in. Additionally, making accessibility a priority allows your volunteer program to connect with a larger, more diverse group of potential volunteers.
  • Introduce Search Filters: Improve the user experience on your volunteer website by creating search filters or labels based on the nature of the work, required skills, accessibility, and time commitment. Individuals can then quickly find opportunities that match their preferences and abilities.
  • Provide Training and Support: Ensure your team is trained to support volunteers with varying abilities appropriately. Training can cover effective communication, awareness of different abilities, and strategies to foster an inclusive environment.
  • Adopt Flexible Scheduling: Some volunteers may be unable to commit to a strict schedule due to personal circumstances or health conditions. Flexible scheduling options, such as weekend volunteering or shift-based roles, can make your program more appealing.

By implementing these strategies, you can make your volunteer program more inclusive and accessible, potentially attracting more diverse volunteers. 

TL;DR: Make your volunteer programs accessible and diverse through measures like virtual volunteering, wheelchair accessibility, search filters on the volunteer website, training, and flexible scheduling.

10) Screen Your Volunteer Recruits

You know that your organization's best volunteers need the right skills. But they also need to match your organization's collective ethos. 

Screening prospects during the recruitment process will help you ensure the safety of your clients while also allowing you to get to know new volunteers before they begin. 

The screening level a prospect receives will depend on your organization’s needs. For example, if you need many volunteers for your annual beach clean-up, you probably won’t need to screen recruits extensively. 

On the other hand, a volunteer working directly with youth or other populations who are at increased risk, for example, will need to submit a resume, complete a background check, and attend interviews. These steps are necessary to ensure your clients' safety and improve your program's effectiveness. 

Let’s go into more detail about background checks and volunteer interviews:

Background Checks

Volunteer background checks are important for mitigating risk and protecting your community. They’ll also protect your organization against repercussions if an unfit volunteer is placed. 

A volunteer background check aims to verify an applicant’s identity and reveal any criminal history. Most nonprofits and volunteer organizations employ professional background screening services to screen applicants because the process is fairly involved. 

Does your organization need a background check?

The most common reasons organizations request background checks of their volunteers are:

  • Volunteers work with populations or individuals at increased risk, such as children.
  • To protect a nonprofit against legal issues when placing volunteers. Some services administered by volunteers require background checks. 
  • To create a safe environment for all participants, including volunteers and clients.

While background checks are important for safeguarding your community, they can pose some logistical challenges. 

There is always a risk of volunteers becoming disengaged during the screening process, especially if the background checks take more than a few days to complete. You certainly don’t want your recruitment efforts to go to waste. So, if you plan on screening every applicant, we recommend investing in background check automation. 

Background check automation integrates with your existing volunteer management platform, so they only have to enter their information into one system. This information is automatically sent to the background check provider, and results are returned within a few days, ultimately streamlining your volunteer registration process

Volunteer Interviews

You may not need to interview every prospective volunteer that walks through your door. However, a volunteer interview may be necessary if you’re looking for individuals for more specialized roles.

What should you ask your volunteers? We’ve put together some sample interview questions that may inspire your own:

Volunteer Recruitment Interview Questions:
  • What would you like to know about our organization?
  • What causes are you passionate about?
  • What experiences in your life have led you to want to volunteer? 
  • What types of work have you done before? 
  • What experience or training do you have that will help you in this role? 
  • How do you deal with situations that don’t go as planned? 
  • Do you tend to work with groups or on your own?

Read our complete volunteer interview guide

TL;DR: Screen volunteers to ensure fit with your organization and client safety. This process, which may include background checks and interviews, varies based on roles.

11) Employ Volunteer Ambassadors

Your current supporters are your most valuable asset for onboarding new volunteers. Offer your most dedicated supporters leadership opportunities and boost your recruitment efforts by forming a volunteer ambassador program. 

Volunteer ambassadors can boost your recruitment efforts through key recruitment activities, such as: 

  • Spreading the word through their networks
  • Securing volunteer registrations
  • Representing your organization in the community

Provide your volunteer ambassadors with the tools, resources, and mentorship to share your recruitment message.

TL;DR: Leverage dedicated volunteer ambassadors to enhance recruitment. They can spread your message, secure registrations, and represent your organization in the community.

12) Adopt a Volunteer Management System

Volunteer recruitment is no simple task. That’s why many volunteer professionals rely on volunteer management software to find better candidates quicker. 

Volunteer management software can assist with core recruitment functions, including:

  • Highlighting volunteer opportunities – Make your volunteer opportunities stand out with a clean volunteer interface. 
  • Promoting opportunities – Share volunteer opportunities and events with a click by email, on your social media, or on your website’s homepage to direct prospects to your volunteering page. 
  • Creating private projects for select community partners – Create exclusive opportunities for select groups and report their collective impact. 
  • Scheduling available volunteers or sending email invites – Schedule from your pool of volunteers based on availability or invite your volunteers for specific opportunities.
  • Matching volunteers up based on skills and interests – Engage volunteers by recommending volunteer opportunities based on their skills and passions. During registration, volunteers will self-select their interests, and the system will automatically recommend volunteer opportunities
  • Pre-qualifying volunteers – A drawn-out onboarding process can discourage eager supporters. During registration, the system should enable volunteers to quickly upload required qualifying documentation (like driver’s licenses or certifications) to their platform profile. You can rest assured you’ve recruited the right volunteers without losing their interest.

Are you interested in volunteer management software? Sign up for a free demo today!

TL;DR: Use volunteer management software for efficient recruitment. This aids in promoting volunteer opportunities, scheduling, matching volunteers to suitable roles, and streamlining the onboarding process.

Volunteer recruitment adopting a volunteer management system features and solutions

13) Survey Your Volunteers 

Your current volunteers can provide valuable insight into your program. Survey your volunteers to understand your current supporters’ attitudes toward your program and identify strengths and areas of improvement. 

More specifically, you can use volunteer surveys to:

  • Improve volunteer engagement and retention
  • Reduce turnover and recruitment costs
  • Clarify marketing and communication efforts
  • Understand what drives your volunteers to sign up

To understand the effectiveness of your recruitment strategy, your volunteer survey should include questions like: 

  • How did you hear about our organization?
  • What compelled you to volunteer with our organization?
  • By which means did you register with our organization?
  • Were you provided with a clear position description?
  • Please rate the ease of locating and signing up for a volunteer opportunity.

Then, use this information to drive your recruitment strategy. 

TL;DR: Gather volunteer feedback through surveys for valuable insights into your program. Improve engagement, reduce turnover, and refine communication strategies with this approach.

14) Focus on Retention

You’ve worked hard to get volunteers through the door. You don’t want to waste those efforts by losing them after their first shift.

Volunteer retention helps keep your volunteers around for the long haul, reducing turnover and the need for expensive recruitment pushes. Ultimately, retention requires fewer resources (read: cheaper) than recruitment. 

Keep your new volunteers coming back with these tactics:

  • Match Volunteers’ Skills and Interests - Volunteers are more engaged when they feel they’re genuinely making an impact and contributing their skills. Capture volunteers’ interests, passions, and expertise when they register so you can help them find roles that suit them best.
  • Implement Volunteer Orientation and Training - Volunteers who feel prepared to perform better are more likely to volunteer again. Orientation and training also help volunteers feel more connected to your organization. 
  • Show Volunteer Appreciation and Recognition - Volunteers who feel appreciated have a higher chance of sticking around. That’s why a volunteer appreciation strategy is an investment that pays off.

Successful programs don’t stop at volunteer recruitment. When creating a recruitment strategy, volunteer leaders should also consider their plan for keeping the volunteers they already have. 

TL;DR: Focus on volunteer retention by matching skills and interests with roles, providing orientation and training, and implementing appreciation strategies.

15) Reward Your Volunteers

Your volunteers are motivated by helping others. But a little incentive can help encourage some to sign up when you need them. 

Here are a few incentives to get new volunteers through the door:

  • Looking for docents, ushers, or other event volunteers? Give show or event tickets to recruits. 
  • Never underestimate the power of food. A free meal after a volunteer shift or a gift card to a favorite local cafe is an easy way to ensure a positive experience for first-time volunteers. 
  • Recruiting students and young professionals? Offer to write letters of recommendation and mentorship and networking opportunities to help boost their resumes. (Ensure you have a system for tracking and reporting their volunteer hours.)

Host a Contest

Host a contest for newly registered volunteers. Put their names in a drawing and give away a gift card or prize. A little healthy competition is also a great way to motivate volunteers to log their hours. Set benchmarks and reward volunteers for reaching these milestones. 

Give Away Swag

Give new volunteers free swag when they sign-up. Branded merchandise encourages people to identify with your organization’s mission. Plus, you’ll double your efforts when supporters wear or use your merchandise for advertising your program. Select giveaways that are useful for most people, like t-shirts or mugs. Get them professionally designed (you can tap your talented volunteers for this!) and printed. 

Learn how to sell t-shirts for your next fundraising campaign.

Celebrate Volunteer Week (or Month)

National Volunteer Week, which typically falls in the third week of April, is a great time to boost your visibility in your community. Many community-based organizations see a significant increase in volunteer participation during this time. 

Here are a few ways to celebrate volunteer week and capitalize on the extra engagement: 

  • Create special projects and initiatives just for volunteer week participants.
  • Motivate people to sign up by creating impact goals for the week (or the month). Let prospects know you need their help to reach your volunteer week goals. 
  • Connect other community organizations and tap into their networks.  
  • Reach out to local businesses. Ask them to match your volunteer program’s impact value at the end of the week with a donation.
  • Use social media to highlight your community footprint. 
  • Go virtual. Get even more done this year by offering special virtual volunteering initiatives in addition to your traditional in-person volunteer opportunities. 

TL;DR: Enhance recruitment with incentives like event tickets, meals, recommendation letters, contests, and branded merchandise. Leverage occasions like National Volunteer Week to increase visibility and engagement.

16) Share Your Impact

Your organization’s impact can be used to inspire new volunteers to take part. Use your marketing channels (like social media and email) to share your volunteer program’s impact, successes, and goals. Volunteer management software can help you automatically track data like:

That said, you shouldn’t just rely on quantitative data as a recruitment tactic. Sharing your community stories appeals to people’s emotional sensibilities and goes a long way in inspiring new support. Interview your current volunteers and gather stories from clients and other stakeholders. Post the stories on your blog, website, social media, and newsletter. 

TL;DR: Share your organization's impact to inspire new volunteers. Track data such as volunteer hours, impact value, and funds raised, and share community stories on your digital platforms.

Volunteer Recruitment Strategy Tips and Examples

You’ve learned the essential steps to finding new volunteers. But now it’s time to get planning and take action! But how do you organize your ideas?

We recommend creating a volunteer recruitment plan. A volunteer recruitment plan is a written document outlining your recruitment activities and outcomes. 

Organizations usually use several different channels and strategies for recruiting volunteers. Without a written plan, these strategies can quickly become muddled. Documenting your recruitment activities will help your team sync up and stay organized so you know who’s responsible for each action.

Now let’s learn what you should include in your recruitment plan:

Elements of a Volunteer Recruitment Plan

What makes up a comprehensive recruitment plan? We recommend thinking out the following elements:

  • Volunteer Need - The specific program or role your organization needs to fill.
  • Person Responsible - The staff or team member overseeing the recruitment task.
  • Community Partner Involved - List any community partners involved in providing volunteer prospects.
  • Target Audience - The group of people (potential volunteers) you are trying to reach.
  • Recruitment Channel - The media you will use to share your recruitment message.
  • Resources Needed - Any assets or resources you need to complete the recruitment task.
  • Activities - The specific actions and steps to take to recruit your target audience.

Given that you're likely to have multiple volunteer needs, planning the recruitment channels, resources, and activities for each program or role you aim to fill is crucial. Structuring your approach allows for a streamlined and effective recruitment process, ensuring your volunteer programs thrive.

Example Volunteer Recruitment Plan

Write your plan in a spreadsheet, such as the one shown here, to visualize how each recruitment activity supports your volunteer needs.

You know how to write a plan for recruiting volunteers. Now you need the right tools to get the job done. In the next section, we'll discover the best system for recruiting volunteers efficiently. 

Real Volunteer Recruitment Examples

Explore these case studies to see how we've helped organizations just like yours. Using Get Connected will save you time, help you grow your program, and make a greater impact in the community. 

Save the Bay

  1. The Customer: Save The Bay is a nonprofit organization based in Rhode Island, USA, with the mission to protect and improve Narragansett Bay. This organization manages numerous initiatives, including the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) event, which draws in thousands of volunteers annually.
  2. The Challenge: Save The Bay previously used Google Forms and 123ContactForm for volunteer recruitment. However, these tools needed to be improved for their ICC initiative, which demanded a robust, intuitive, and easy-to-manage system capable of handling an influx of volunteers.
  3. The Solution: The organization adopted Get Connected, a volunteer management software by Galaxy Digital, to facilitate its recruitment process.

Results of Implementing the Recruitment Plan:

  • Enhanced Volunteer Experience: By replacing complex sign-up processes with Get Connected's user-friendly interface, Save The Bay improved the volunteer recruitment and sign-up experience, increasing participation.
  • Reduced Administrative Time: Get Connected automated much of the administrative work associated with volunteer management. This change significantly reduced the time needed to manage sign-ups and volunteer data, resulting in a more efficient recruitment process.
  • Increased Volunteer Recruitment: Save The Bay doubled its volunteer numbers for the ICC initiative. The software's intuitive and efficient management features allowed the organization to handle this growth effectively.

In the future, Save The Bay plans to leverage Get Connected to bolster its volunteer recruitment efforts for other program areas. The organization aims to attract more long-term volunteers, especially retired individuals and community members, by promoting volunteer opportunities that match their schedules and interests.

Willamalane Park and Recreation District

  1. The Organization: Willamalane Park and Recreation District (WPRD) is a public parks organization based in Springfield, Oregon, USA, responsible for five recreational facilities and 46 parks. Their mission includes providing safe, accessible, and eco-friendly parks and recreation facilities for the community.
  2. The Challenge: When District Volunteer Coordinator Mavis Sanchez-Scholes joined WPRD's ranks in 2017, she grappled with a slow, inefficient, and paper-based volunteer recruitment system. It needed to be more robust, especially considering the high volume of daily programs and annual events that relied heavily on volunteer participation. 

As Sanchez-Scholes said, "I knew that we needed to change our operating system to match our volunteer demographic and to strengthen our customer-service techniques."

  1. The Solution: WPRD chose to employ the Get Connected platform by Galaxy Digital, an intuitive volunteer management software, to streamline their volunteer recruitment and management process.

Results of Implementing the Recruitment Plan:

  • Boosted Volunteer Experience: With its straightforward interface, the adoption of Get Connected transformed WPRD's convoluted sign-up process. The result was a noticeable enhancement in the volunteer experience and increased engagement.
  • Decreased Administrative Work: By automating numerous administrative tasks, Get Connected considerably reduced the time required to manage volunteer sign-ups and data, making the process more efficient.
  • Amplified Volunteer Recruitment: After implementing Get Connected, WPRD saw a rise in volunteer numbers from 150 to 550. The software's effective management capabilities enabled the organization to handle this surge comfortably.

In the future, WPRD plans to use Get Connected to further enhance its volunteer recruitment endeavors across all program areas. The organization aims to reach more diverse groups, including seniors, minority groups, and people with disabilities, aligning volunteer opportunities to their interests and schedules.

The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County

  1. The Customer: The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County is a charitable organization in North Carolina, USA, committed to building a robust, caring community where everyone can achieve the quality of life they desire. They run various initiatives involving community members as volunteers.
  2. The Challenge: The United Way previously used a combination of spreadsheets and manual data entry for volunteer management. This method was cumbersome, inefficient, and unable to keep up with the growth of their volunteer programs, resulting in difficulties in recruiting and retaining volunteers.
  3. The Solution: The organization opted for Get Connected, a volunteer management software by Galaxy Digital, to streamline its volunteer recruitment and management process.

Results of Implementing the Recruitment Plan:

  • Enhanced Volunteer Experience: Get Connected's intuitive interface and simplified sign-up process enhanced the volunteer experience at the United Way. This user-friendly approach led to increased volunteer engagement and participation.
  • Reduced Administrative Time: By automating the administrative work associated with volunteer management, Get Connected significantly reduced the time previously required to manage volunteer sign-ups and data. This made the United Way's volunteer recruitment process more efficient.
  • Increased Volunteer Recruitment: The United Way substantially increased volunteer numbers after implementing Get Connected. The software's efficient management features allowed the organization to handle the volunteer involvement surge effectively.

In the future, The United Way plans to use Get Connected to enhance its volunteer recruitment strategies across all its initiatives. The organization aims to attract more diverse volunteers, including students, working professionals, and retirees, by offering volunteer opportunities that align with their skills, interests, and availability.

How Volunteer Recruitment Tools Can Help

In addition to these effective volunteer recruitment strategies and practices, you’ll want the right tools to boost your efforts.

Volunteer Recruitment Software

Volunteer recruitment can easily become a time-consuming process. But many volunteer professionals rely on volunteer management software to find better candidates more quickly.

Today, most organizations and nonprofits recruit volunteers online. Volunteer recruitment managers are finding success by using volunteer management software. 

At Galaxy Digital, we’ve put a lot of thought into volunteer recruitment and built easy-to-use recruitment solutions into our products. Check out our volunteer management software, Get Connected, and when you’re ready to make a change, reach out to us! 

When volunteers are passionate about a cause and feel their skills are used, they’re more likely to volunteer with your organization again. 

Consider a volunteer management platform with core volunteer recruitment functions. The right tool will allow volunteer recruitment leaders to:

  • Highlight volunteer opportunities - Make your volunteer opportunities stand out with a clean volunteer interface. 
  • Promote opportunities - Share volunteer opportunities and events with a click by email, on your social media, or on your website’s homepage to direct prospects to your volunteering page. 
  • Create customized web pages - Some volunteer management platforms will allow you to create custom landing pages to engage select groups (like your corporate volunteers) and promote special campaigns
  • Create private opportunities for select community partners - Create exclusive opportunities for select groups and report on their collective impact. 
  • Schedule available volunteers or send email invites for recruitment - Schedule from your pool of volunteers based on their availability, or send an invite to your volunteers to specific opportunities.
  • Match volunteers up based on skills and interests - Engage volunteers by recommending volunteer opportunities based on their skills and passions. During registration, volunteers will self-select their interests, and the system will automatically recommend volunteer opportunities
  • Pre-qualify volunteers - A drawn-out onboarding process can discourage eager volunteers. During registration, the system should enable volunteers to quickly upload required qualifying documentation (like driver's licenses or certifications) to their platform profile. You can rest assured you’ve recruited the right volunteers without losing their interest.

FAQ

What is the importance of crafting a strong volunteer recruitment message?

A strong volunteer recruitment message is crucial as it effectively communicates your organization's needs and inspires action. It should clearly present the volunteer roles, expectations, and the impact they can make while resonating with your target audience's motivations and values.

Why should an organization prioritize diversity and inclusivity in volunteer recruitment?

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Prioritizing diversity and inclusivity enhances the organization's capacity to serve varied communities. A diverse and inclusive volunteer base brings different perspectives, skills, and experiences, promoting creativity, empathy, and understanding in addressing community needs.

What role does a volunteer ambassador play in recruitment?

A volunteer ambassador represents your organization in the community, helping to spread your recruitment message. They leverage their networks to secure registrations and create a positive image of your organization, which can significantly enhance your volunteer recruitment efforts.

What are some incentives that can enhance volunteer recruitment?

Incentives such as event tickets, meals, recommendation letters, contests, and branded merchandise can make volunteering more appealing. These rewards recognize volunteers' contributions and foster a sense of belonging, ultimately promoting recruitment and retention.

Why is feedback from current volunteers crucial in recruitment strategies?

Feedback from current volunteers provides invaluable insights into the effectiveness of your recruitment process and volunteer program. It helps identify areas of improvement, understand volunteers' motivations, and refine strategies, thus ensuring a more engaging and successful recruitment experience.

Don't Forget Your Free Resource: Download the Complete Guide to Volunteer Recruitment!
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