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Guide: Recruit Nonprofit Volunteers

Volunteers are likely the heart of your community and therefore the heart of your nonprofit organization. You know this, but you still struggle finding the time necessary to recruit great volunteers. How do you do it? How do other organizations tackle this task?

Tried-and-True Ways to Manage and Retain Volunteers

Your Inner Circle

There’s no better way to recruit volunteers than by beginning to just ask people that you know. You may not realize it, but you know more people than you think. Your current volunteers have contacts. Your donors have contacts. You have email subscribers to your organization’s newsletter. These are all great places to start.

Encourage your current volunteers to bring family and friends to your next event. Many people enjoy giving back, particularly when they get to do so with their group of friends or as a family team. Before long, you’ll be surprised at how many volunteers you have.

RELATED: Are You a Good Nonprofit Ambassador?

Your Backyard

You have a social media presence, so use it. Look at who your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other followers for potential volunteers. All of these people are already engaged in your organization in some form or fashion, so going to who you know is relatively low-hanging fruit.

Many high schools and universities have organizations who like to give back and whose members need service hours to fulfill their duties to those organizations. If you have a school nearby, reach out. You never know how many nonprofit volunteers might be waiting in the wings.

Recruitment Campaign

Many nonprofit organizations have a volunteer recruitment campaign. This effort is set for a specific time of year and has a set length of time. You can do an email campaign, a social media campaign and post the campaign on your website. Start by highlighting your existing nonprofit volunteer workforce, and be sure to praise their impact. Highlight specific volunteer stories or have online chat sessions between current volunteers and prospective ones.

You might need new ways for the community to engage with your organization, so communicate that new path in your campaign. Or, you might be recruiting for several different future events that need specific skill sets like fundraising, marketing and IT technology, as well as other skills. It’s best to create opportunities where groups of volunteers can participate together. You will get a better response, and you can use incentives like rewards and recognition to get new signups.

People are busy, so if you’re going to do a recruitment campaign, do it right. Be clear about your message and what volunteers you’re looking for. These days, nonprofits are competing with each other and with many other activities for a volunteer’s time. Cut through it and don’t clutter your message. Be clear about what you’re seeking. You’d do this for a fundraising campaign, right? It’s no different for a volunteer campaign.

nonprofit volunteer guide

Nonprofit Volunteer Matching Services

Online services like VolunteerMatch and Catchafire can help match volunteers with specific skill sets to your organization. Typically, you just create a profile of your organization, volunteer responsibilities needed and the interests and skills you are looking for. These services take minimal time and are a great ongoing way to find great volunteers.

If you prefer not to use one of these services, simply create a short online survey for your community. Ask about skills and interests related to volunteer opportunities. Also create an easy online form that potential volunteers can use to sign up and let you know they’re interested.

Cast a Wide Net

Don’t limit your “ask”. These days, volunteers are looking to contribute in many different ways, from communications to fundraising. Setting aside time for volunteer recruitment activities can be challenging. Done well, the fruits of your labors will pay off and you’ll be enriched with an amazing volunteer workforce.

You won’t know if you don’t ask. Today’s new volunteer may be tomorrow’s amazing board member, so ask!

RELATED: The Importance of Mentorship for Those New to Nonprofits


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