4 Volunteer Recruitment Strategies for Increased Support

Sonia Urlando

June 22, 2023

About the Author

Sonia Urlando

Sonia Urlando is the Content Marketing Manager at Personify for the WildApricot and MemberClicks brands. In the content she creates, she is passionate about putting people at the heart of the story.

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Nonprofit teams often wear multiple hats. Staff members have to be event planners, gift officers, service providers, accountants, marketers, and more to keep their organization able to fulfill its mission. Whether you’re a nonprofit planning your next fundraising event or looking to boost your marketing efforts, volunteer recruitment is essential to powering your success.

Volunteers can take some of the strain off of your staff. Given their commitment to your work, they’re also great individuals to help with word-of-mouth marketing and can even be easier to steward into recurring donors

With so many people today wanting to make a difference in the world and help fix some of the social challenges we see each day, the drive to volunteer is as strong as ever. In this modern world, technology has also brought convenience to the forefront of people’s priorities, from online chatting to digital transactions. This digital pivot provides a great opportunity to leverage virtual strategies to make the most of your volunteer recruitment efforts

We’ll help you get started below with four ideas—plus a bonus tip for volunteer retention!

1. Offer diverse and convenient volunteer opportunities.

Your supporters have a variety of strengths, interests, and values. Be sure to appeal to as many potential volunteers as possible by offering numerous ways for them to get involved and support your organization. For example, you can have volunteers:

  • Help out at an event: Events offer multiple opportunities for volunteer roles. For example, volunteers can help collect payments, assist with set-up and take-down, serve meals, or run an information booth.
  • Spearhead a fundraiser: Volunteers can help you raise critical funds for your cause by launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign or organizing a fundraiser event with a local restaurant or business willing to share an evening’s profits to support your work.
  • Perform administrative tasks: Sending mail to donors, entering data into your database, or organizing your supply closet are all small tasks volunteers can complete that can make a big difference for your staff’s time.
  • Interface with your beneficiaries: Have volunteers help serve meals at your emergency shelter, read to children in your after-school program, or do other activities that let them directly contribute to your mission. Through this, they forge a meaningful, personal connection to your work.
  • Host a volunteer day: Volunteers can recruit additional volunteers for big events like a river clean-up, office beautification day, or other tasks where you could use a lot of hands all at once.
  • Conduct research: Volunteers with backgrounds in research or grant writing can help with some of your development tasks. Have them look up information about your subject area that you can use in marketing materials or ask them to find new grant opportunities to which you can apply.
  • Assist with social media marketing: If you have some volunteers who are particularly savvy with social media, ask if they’d be willing to help you draft some new posts or engage with your followers.

You can maximize your recruitment efforts by offering virtual volunteer opportunities. Today’s technology empowers people who want to help to be able to get involved regardless of where they’re located!

Many of the examples above can be done at home or pivoted to become digital tasks. For instance, you can recruit virtual volunteers to help with your next online fundraiser. You can create an account for a volunteer to be able to access your database for data entry from anywhere. Technology can even make event planning more convenient, with volunteers able to assist with your virtual meetings.

2. Make the most of your existing connections.

Your digital donor database is a powerful tool for volunteer recruitment. Give it a look to see if you can find some existing supporters who may be interested in volunteering for your next event or initiative. 

You can segment supporters in your donor database by relevant characteristics that might show a greater interest in volunteer activities. You’ll want to look at information like:

  • Past involvement with your organization, such as event attendance or prior volunteering.
  • Interests and skills supporters have that may align with your open volunteer roles.
  • Donation history, and how the frequency and amount offer insights into their commitment.
  • Social media engagement with your different platforms.

Leveraging your donor data will allow you to tailor your outreach more effectively to supporters who are most likely to get involved with your volunteer needs. It’ll help you offer the right opportunity to the right person at the right time. Win, win, win!

3. Promote your opportunities online.

Meet people where they are. Your supporters are already spending time on various social media platforms and checking their email daily. Use these digital forms of communication to spread the word about your volunteer opportunities.

Email newsletters are great because they get sent to an audience that has already opted in to receive information about your work. The recipients are an engaged group of supporters who are more likely to open your message, review your volunteer opportunities, and then be able to easily respond to your message to sign up.

Social media is also a powerful tool for promoting your volunteer opportunities. In fact, Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms for nonprofits, with organizations reporting an increase of more than 44% in their number of followers.

By using Instagram and other social media accounts, you’re able to reach loyal followers, as well as people who may be hearing about your cause for the first time. Make it easy for people to hear about your volunteer opportunities by creating posts that compel people to share. That way, you’re reaching people who come to your page directly, as well as their extended networks!

4. Optimize your website.

Where do you usually go when you want to learn more about an organization or how to get involved? Most likely their website! This is many people’s first stop, so it’s important to optimize it for volunteer recruitment.

Create a specific page on your website for volunteers. This will allow those interested in participating to learn more about your volunteer opportunities before signing up. Provide some sample roles and responsibilities that volunteers usually fill, as well as basic information about what your nonprofit works on and what your values are. Help prospective volunteers visualize how they will fit into your organization’s culture and mission.

A volunteer page is also useful for current volunteers. They use it to find updates on your organization and additional volunteer opportunities. This helps them feel connected to your nonprofit, ensuring that they stay involved in the long run.

Bonus: How to Retain Your Volunteers

Speaking of keeping your volunteers invested for the long run, let’s talk about volunteer retention! Once you’ve done the work to acquire new volunteers for your organization, don’t let the momentum stop there. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to retain the volunteers you’ve worked with before and have already trained than it is to constantly recruit new ones.

To further your goals, from fundraising to daily operations, focus on retaining the support you’ve gained. To do this, implement strategies that help volunteers feel appreciated, such as:

  • Thank your volunteers regularly for their time and effort both in-person during their service and afterward via email.
  • Mail handwritten thank-you cards and reach out on birthdays, anniversaries, and other days that are special to your volunteers to let them know you’re thinking about them.
  • Spotlight your volunteers on social media or in a newsletter to celebrate their contribution with your wider community.
  • Host a volunteer appreciation event where you can give out awards and provide a space for volunteers to meet one another.

Another way to increase your volunteer retention rate is by sending surveys to collect feedback on how you can improve the volunteer experience. This shows your current volunteers that you value their insight and want to make their time with your organization enjoyable. It also makes your future recruitment efforts easier, as your volunteer program becomes known for its support.

Track Your Volunteer Recruitment Strategies With Key Metrics

Effective volunteer recruitment is crucial for the success of any nonprofit. Volunteers fill important roles that let your organization complete its mission-critical work. The strategies above can help you increase your volunteer recruitment rate by leveraging in-person and digital approaches.

As you implement new volunteer recruitment strategies, make sure to measure their success over time. Notice how many new volunteers each effort brings in and the satisfaction levels of your current volunteers. These will help you continue to refine your volunteer recruitment strategies over time and, in the end, help with your volunteer retention too!

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