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3 tips for how to recruit volunteers for your nonprofit

It’s the topic on every nonprofit’s mind: How can we recruit volunteers and grow support for our organization? There are so many benefits to boosting your people power. Explore these volunteer recruitment ideas to learn how.

Madison Mikhail Bush
October 26, 2023
Nerd Mr Butter

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Did you know 85% of your volunteers are more likely to donate than non-volunteers? That means more volunteers = more donors. Making it as easy as possible to both volunteer and donate is key to sustained nonprofit support. 

So, how do you boost your volunteer recruitment? The key is to have a great strategy. And thanks to modern technology, you’ve got options to effectively reach more volunteers. 

Here are our tried and true ways to plan and implement a volunteer recruitment strategy that will meet your nonprofit’s volunteer needs. 

Tip #1: Plan for volunteer recruitment 

Before you start putting out a call for volunteers, it’s crucial to get clear on what type of volunteer support you need, identify the types of people who may be best suited, and figure out the different channels you have to reach people. Upfront planning saves you time in the long run. 

🧍Identify your volunteer roles 

Rather than just putting out a call for any volunteer, take a few minutes to look at the roles volunteers will fill in your organization. Identify tasks and programs that need volunteer support, how often you’ll need someone to help, and any skills needed. 

You’ll also want to get clear on the number of volunteers your nonprofit organization needs—will you rely on a lot of volunteers who come infrequently, or do you need a smaller pool of dedicated volunteers? 

Example: 

A shelter that sources community donations and has 2 volunteer role needs:

  • Donation sorting: You need a large pool of volunteers who can come infrequently, who like to organize, work well in teams, and can lift boxes up to 50 lbs. 
  • Community outreach: A small but dedicated team of volunteers who are knowledgeable about your services, able to volunteer frequently, and bilingual to better reach the population you serve.

📋Create messaging based on volunteer tasks and impact

Now that you know the different volunteer roles you need, craft messaging around each role so you can start spreading the word. Be sure to highlight the following things: 

  • What the volunteer can expect to do in this role 
  • Any skills they need or skills they will learn 
  • Days and times that this role is needed 
  • If they will be working individually or with a team
  • How this volunteer work contributes to your organization’s impact on the community 

💡Brainstorm where you can find volunteers 

You’ve got your roles and messaging, and now it’s time to put a quick team meeting on the books to brainstorm where you can find great prospective volunteers

Posting to an online volunteer hub and app can help you reach people who want to do more good. You can also tap into your existing donor database and encourage them to get involved in a more hands-on way.  

But you can go a step further and get a little creative! If some of your volunteer roles would be best filled by people with specific skills, brainstorm ways to reach them. 

Here are a few examples of creative places to find people interested in volunteering based on your needs: 

🧸 Tutoring for children

  • Local school PTO groups 
  • University education departments 

🍲 Food distribution for lower-income neighborhoods 

  • Local restaurants, breweries, or food brands 
  • Grocery stores with community service programs 

🐕 Care/walks for animals in a shelter

  • Pet supply stores 
  • Veterinary science programs 

🖊️ Specific skills (e.g., legal, content creation, graphic design, accounting) 

  • Local companies who value giving back and are willing to work pro-bono 
  • Grad students 

Tip #2: Create an actionable volunteer recruitment strategy 

You’re clear on what you need, core messaging, and where you might find volunteers. Now, let’s turn it into a strategy. 

📣 Share volunteer role descriptions 

Take the information on who you need and what roles you have and make a “job description” that can easily be posted and shared (online or IRL). 

Keep it short and sweet. List the volunteer role title, a short description that includes tasks and impact, any skills needed, and the days and times volunteers need to be available. 

Then add a clear call to action: Do they need to fill out a volunteer application to be onboarded, or can they instantly sign up for a volunteer event? Share these job descriptions on the channels you have available to you. ⬇️

👩🏽‍💻 Select channels to use 

A channel can be any method that your team uses to publicize your volunteer needs. You can use community boards in local shops, social media, an online volunteer hub, email lists, direct outreach to companies or schools, or tap into your staff or board member networks by asking them to share a post or send emails. 

When selecting your channels, think about the types of volunteers you need, and get strategic about using the channels that they are more likely to engage with. We’ve listed a few channels below to get your brainstorm started: 

  • Social media (LinkedIn is great for corporate volunteer groups!)
  • Email lists 
  • Banner on your website 
  • Google Ads (did you know they give grants to nonprofits?) 
  • University departments 
  • University groups/clubs 
  • Local professional organizations 
  • Local media 

 💻 Use tech for volunteer recruitment

There are a lot of ways that you can use technology to support your volunteer recruitment effort. Volunteer management software makes it easy to organize and track everything you need for your volunteer program. 

Whenever you’re looking for new tech, first get clear on exactly what you need and which features would be helpful. Seek out tech that fits your needs rather than piecing together multiple solutions. 

🪄 Streamline your volunteer onboarding process 

Make sure that you have a clear, easy onboarding process. When potential volunteers reach out, give them everything they need to get started. Send a waiver, volunteer handbook, background check instructions, any training that must be completed, or anything else volunteers need to have in place before coming in. This ensures you and your volunteers have a positive experience.

If you don’t need or want a long onboarding process, then welcome them to the team and give them an opportunity to sign up for a volunteer event ASAP! The less time that passes between interest and involvement, the better.

Tip #3: Evaluate and iterate 

With every strategy, evaluation and iteration is key. Set up a quarterly recruitment strategy review. We recommend including the people most involved with volunteers, like your program leads and volunteer coordinator. 

Review your strategy by looking at the following aspects and brainstorm ways to improve.

  • Reach 📈 How many potential volunteers are you reaching? You can use analytics on most social platforms and email campaign software to see reach and engagement statistics. 
  • Channels 🎯 Which channels are the best for reaching your target volunteer? Which are the worst? Focus on the channels that give you the best return on your time investment. 
  • Interest 📨 What percentage of potential volunteers reach out? How can you improve this number by making your call to action easier to understand or complete?  
  • Onboarding ✅ How many recruits complete your onboarding process? Be sure to ask these people about their volunteer experience and any feedback they have about the recruitment process. 

Level up your volunteer recruitment with POINT and Givebutter 

POINT is your all-in-one volunteer management system. It’s easy to use, free, and has all the capabilities you need to recruit, manage, engage, and report on your volunteer program. One of the best perks is that your POINT profile has a donate button. 💸 

POINT and Givebutter have teamed up so that volunteer donations made on POINT are processed through your existing Givebutter account, making your life wayyy easier. 

Ready to get started? Create your free POINT account today! We can’t wait to help you do more good! 🧡

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