Are you relying on the same core group of volunteers each week to deliver your vital programming? This dedicated group is essential to keeping your volunteer program afloat. But if you’re not inspiring new support, you’re not moving your mission forward.
So, we’ve put together a mega-list of fresh volunteer recruitment ideas to give your program the boost it needs to thrive.
1. 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 they register 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!”
2. Make Volunteerism More Accessible
Recruit more volunteers by making your volunteer program accessible to more people. Offer volunteer opportunities that welcome participants with different abilities. Virtual volunteering is great for many and can help broaden your volunteer program to accommodate those previously restricted by in-person volunteering.
In addition, make sure to note whether opportunities are wheelchair accessible on your volunteer site. Create search filters or labels so that individuals can easily find an opportunity that suits their abilities.
3. Ask Your Donors
Your donors already believe in your cause. Why not ask them to volunteer? Use your donor database to identify engaged supporters. Then, let them know about your volunteer opportunities. Share opportunities regularly (email is an excellent way to keep your donors engaged) and mention your volunteer program in your thank yous.
We recommend these five strategies for turning your donors into volunteers.
4. 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 that already have a presence in your community and who already have volunteer initiatives, like employee volunteerism or service-learning programs.
- Strive for relevance. Seek out partners whose resources, skills, and interests make sense for your program.
- Utilize 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.
5. Get Social
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.
6. Become an Email Marketing Pro
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 that communicates the next steps. Keep your call to action direct, for example, “Make a real difference today. Click here to apply.”
7. Use Multiple Recruitment Channels
Email isn’t the only tool at your disposal. Multi-channel marketing involves communicating with your prospects and supporters across many channels. Use a multi-channel marketing strategy to increase engagement, connect with more prospects, and grow your network.
The key to a successful campaign is to choose your channels wisely. The media you choose will depend on where your volunteers are and where you want to find new ones. So, you may choose to use a combination of online and offline channels to share your recruitment messages, such as Facebook, email, and mailers. We recommend you check out this comprehensive guide to marketing your volunteer opportunities.
8. Host a Volunteer Fair
Volunteer fairs are a great way to acquaint lots of prospects with your cause. Host your fair at a location that sees 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 more fun with games, live music, and food!
9. 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. A volunteer management software can help you automatically track data like:
- Total volunteer hours
- Volunteer impact value
- Money raised
- # of clients served
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 in your newsletter.
10. Make an Appearance
These days, it can feel like 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 making an appearance at places where interested people might gather?
Set up a booth at community festivals, career fairs, small business associations, or networking events for local professionals. Invite community partners and other volunteers to attend, give away swag, and get your name out there.
11. 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.
12. 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:
- Houses of worship
- Elected offices
- Civic and cultural organizations
- Neighborhood associations
- University clubs and Greek life organizations
- Small business owners
13. Employ Volunteer Ambassadors
Your current supporters are your most valuable asset when it comes to getting new volunteers on board. 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
14. 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 keep volunteers engaged and logging their hours. Set benchmarks and reward volunteers for reaching these milestones.
15. 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 tend to 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.
16. Encourage Them to Bring Friends and Family
Word of mouth makes for powerful advertising. In other words, your current supporters are some of your best recruiters. In fact, there are lots of ways to tap into your current supporters’ networks to get more helping hands:
- Host Bring-a-Friend Week. Chances are your volunteers hang out with like-minded folks. So, 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. Family-friendly volunteering is a great way to get kids civically engaged from a young age. Plus, you’ll welcome new members, including parents who would otherwise need to secure childcare. So, why not make your volunteer opportunities the perfect weekend activity for families.
- Form volunteer teams. Get more volunteers through the door quicker. Engage corporate teams, school groups, faith-based organizations, or any team wanting to take part together. Track and report on team impact and keep in touch—team members may like to volunteer with your organization again!
- 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.
17. Provide Incentives
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 your first-time volunteers.
- Recruiting students and young professionals? Offer to write letters of recommendation, in addition to mentorship and networking opportunities to help boost their resumes. (Make sure you have a system in place for tracking and reporting their volunteer hours.)
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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, our 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 send email invites – Schedule from your pool of volunteers based on their availability, or send an invite to 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 the registration process, 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.