Finding Volunteers: 16 Strategies You Need to Know Now
If you still need volunteers for your holiday and end-of-year events, or you simply need some fresh ideas for your ongoing volunteer search and recruitment, read on for 16 ways to find and recruit volunteers now!
1. Make volunteers part of your strategic plan
According to industry experts, strategic planning is a critical key to managing volunteers. Volunteers are a valuable resource and considering this will allow your organization to reap the benefits of a dedicated volunteer force and keep them coming back, year after year.
2. Cultivate a fresh mindset toward volunteers
When nonprofits modernize their outlook toward unpaid work, it becomes clear that volunteer talent is an important tool to succeed in mission objectives. Sadly, often volunteering isn’t respected as much as it should be – is this because the “free” work volunteers do is not viewed as having real worth?
3. Many willing workers will never volunteer
People want to be asked. Sometimes getting the right people to volunteer requires a personal approach, not a random newsletter.
4. Don’t be vague
You are inviting people to contribute their precious free time. A recruitment pitch that starts with “Volunteers needed” will always elicit the question “To do what?”
5. Match the people to the position
Don’t make the mistake of thinking anyone can do any job. Putting a hands-on individual, best suited to painting walls and scrubbing floors, into an office position is a sure recipe for disaster. Although they may have a passion for the cause, they can become disillusioned and unhappy.
6. Titles and names are important
Don’t highlight the unpaid aspect of the work unless there is a clear reason for adding “volunteer” to the job title. Many volunteers are seeking paid work experience and are looking for a title that means something on a resume. For this reason also, titles that imply subordinate status, such as “assistant”, should be avoided.
7. Go small
Substitute wide-ranging volunteer recruitment campaigns with precisely targeted, smaller, volunteer drives. Try to avoid mass media announcements unless you need several hundred, general volunteers for a single day.
8. Get search specific
Where are the best people for the job to be found? Are you looking for a native Spanish speaker – try your local Hispanic Social center. Need a crafts teacher? Put flyers and take-away cards in the community craft store.
9. America’s young people want to make a difference and believe that helping others is important
Target the younger generations where they hang out – on social media – and at high schools, colleges and universities.
10. Recruit retired baby boomers
These older, educated volunteers can perform valuable and highly skilled work. Target boomers using plain language in a straightforward message for direct mail campaigns and printed brochures.
11. Businesses can also be a source of skilled volunteer talent
Companies can offer more opportunities for working professionals to engage in pro bono and volunteer work, as part of ongoing efforts to recruit and retain the most talented people.
12. Partnering with local churches
Religious organizations are an often untapped resource of volunteer talent and offer tremendous opportunity with volunteers doing significant work outside their congregation. Religious partnerships let nonprofits expand their reach into ethnic communities; important as minority populations continue to grow.
13. Don’t assume one “No” implies “Never, ever.”
Timing is all important. Sometimes a “no” means, “not now.” Don’t take the rejection personally – life happens. The same person may be thrilled to take up the offer when their circumstances change.
14. The universal fear of the new volunteer is that they will be trapped in an endless loop of time commitment
To counteract this concern, stet by reassuring new volunteers by giving them tasks that only require an hour of their time, for example, and remind them when the hour is up.
15. Do your volunteers come back for more?
Finding skilled, dedicated volunteers and training them takes a lot of time. If you have great people working for your group, keep them happy and coming back.
16. Get feedback
By getting feedback from past and current volunteers, you’re showing that you care about their experiences and ways to improve the volunteer program. Let your volunteers know their opinions are important to the workings of your organization.
Volunteers don’t expect payment but they should anticipate being treated with respect, trained, managed, given feedback, and have worthwhile experiences. With the volunteer rate declining and the value of volunteer time running at $23.56 per hour, it’s time for nonprofits to step up to the plate.
Does your group have a specific strategy for keeping volunteers coming back? Tell us about it in the comments.
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