Nonprofit organizations need to recruit volunteers—they are an incredibly valuable resource. By supporting various projects and events, volunteers help nonprofits positively impact the communities they serve and save money in the process.
However, reaching people who have your required skill set and are passionate about your work can be challenging. These tips can help you successfully attract and retain a dedicated group of volunteers who will support your organization’s mission and help you achieve its goals.
Define your volunteer needs and roles
Before recruiting volunteers, it’s important to take a step back and consider what you need help with. Make a list of the tasks and responsibilities you would like volunteers to take on, decide how long you’ll need the volunteers, and clearly define the roles of each volunteer position. This step will help you identify the skills and qualities you are looking for in your volunteers and make the recruitment process more targeted and effective. It will also help you decide on the most suitable recruiting method, attract the right candidates, and ensure that volunteers understand what is expected of them.
Identify your target audience
Think about the type of people who are most likely to be interested in volunteering with your organization. From students to retirees, community members to professionals, identifying your target audience will help you reach out to the right people and tailor your recruitment message to their needs and interests.
Draft your recruitment message
Regardless of the method you choose to recruit volunteers, it’s crucial to craft a powerful and appealing recruitment message. Clearly state the goals and objectives of your nonprofit organization and why you need help. Keep your message concise, straightforward, and easy to understand.
Emphasize the need for the volunteer’s involvement and highlight the benefits they will receive, such as developing new skills and gaining valuable experience. Also, make sure to emphasize the positive impact their volunteer work will have on the community. Need help creating a clear, powerful, and appealing recruitment message? These four tips for crafting clear messages can help!
Make it easy to get involved
Streamline the volunteer application process to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved. Share information about your volunteer opportunities through your website, newsletters, and other communication channels. In addition, consider offering online applications and hosting information sessions or open houses to make it easier for potential volunteers to learn about your organization and get involved.
If possible, consider taking the hassle out of volunteering by offering online (virtual) volunteering opportunities. This approach could be helpful, especially if your focus is on working professionals who may struggle to find time to volunteer alongside their full-time jobs and personal commitments. With virtual volunteering, individuals can use their computers or smartphones to contribute their expertise, skills, and abilities, making it more convenient for them to participate.
Work social media
Social media is a powerful tool to help you recruit volunteers. To get started, identify your audience and key messages, then create a presence on the platforms your prospective volunteers visit. If you’re looking for volunteers with finance skills, for example, LinkedIn is a better choice than Instagram. Consistently publish high-quality, well-written, visually appealing content to maintain a professional appearance. Finally, encourage your followers to share your posts and reach out to their own networks to help spread the word.
Leverage your network, and current volunteers
Your network and current volunteers are valuable resources for recruiting volunteers. Reach out to your friends, family, and colleagues to see if they are interested in volunteering or if they know someone who might be. Ask your current volunteers to connect you to others in their professional and personal networks that might be interested in volunteering. Encourage them to share your social media posts about your volunteer opportunities on their personal pages to help spread the word and reach a wider audience.
Reach out to local organizations, businesses, and civic groups
Partner with local organizations, schools, and businesses to reach a wider audience and meet potential nonprofit volunteers. These organizations may have their own volunteer programs and can provide additional resources and support to help you find volunteers.
In addition, consider connecting with civic groups like your local Kiwanis or Rotary clubs to meet and recruit nonprofit volunteers. These groups are always on the lookout for volunteer prospects for their members, so ensure you get on their radar and show them how your organization adds value to the community.
Provide clear expectations and training
Like employees, volunteers arrive at your nonprofit with a passion for your cause and a curiosity about your organization. They also come with certain preconceptions and expectations about their duties and responsibilities.
To ensure your volunteers are happy, confident, and prepared for their roles, it is crucial to establish clear communication and lay out expectations right from the outset. Provide your volunteers with a detailed job description explaining the workings of your nonprofit (as required for them to excel in their roles), their supervisor or point of contact, and the communication process. Above all, ensure that volunteers grasp how their contributions will help your nonprofit achieve its mission.
Show appreciation and offer incentives and support
Once you successfully recruit volunteers, show appreciation for their work and offer support and incentives to encourage them to continue. This can include regular check-ins, providing feedback, sending thank-you notes, and offering opportunities for growth and development or recognition on your organization’s website. By creating a positive and supportive environment, you can encourage volunteers to stay engaged and continue supporting your organization for years to come.
Attracting and retaining the right volunteers is challenging for nonprofits these days. However, your messaging and communication strategy can either make you the clear volunteers’ choice or send your candidates elsewhere. You’re holding your nonprofit organization back if you do not have an effective messaging strategy. Check out our post on attracting and retaining the best talent for how to ensure your message attracts a dedicated group of volunteers who will help your organization achieve its mission.
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