Volunteers are critical for all types of organizations, from nonprofits to schools to membership organizations. They can help organizations fill staffing gaps, build excitement around an event, give hours toward supporting your mission, and so much more. There’s a good chance you’ve already benefited from the help of volunteers, but you might still have some questions on how to recruit more to your organization. It can be daunting to recruit and maintain the number of volunteers you need, but we have some tips to help you out below! We’ll cover a bit more on why volunteer recruitment is so important when the best time is to recruit volunteers and 15 creative volunteer recruitment ideas you can try. Why is volunteer recruitment so important? You already know the value volunteers bring to your organization, but what makes the recruitment stage of volunteer management so important? Volunteer recruitment is crucial because it allows your organization the opportunity to maintain needed volunteer levels and skills throughout the year. Not all volunteers will be able to make a long-term commitment to your organization. They might move away, have a change in their work schedule, or several other life events that limit their ability to help. Volunteer recruitment anticipates these changes by always filling in volunteer slots with fresh faces as there’s turnover. Volunteer recruitment strategies also let your organization actively seek out people with varied skillsets who can support your work in various ways. By having a volunteer recruitment strategy, you’ll identify organizational needs and the best volunteers to fill those. When is the best time to recruit volunteers? Successful volunteer recruitment campaigns often occur leading up to major projects or campaigns. Let’s say your organization is going to host a fundraising fun run, for example. Leading up to the event, you’ll want to start reaching out to supporters to see who can fill volunteer roles like running the packet pickup table, cleaning up after the event, or even assisting with the event’s marketing. Having a specific event or campaign offers momentum for volunteer recruitment efforts. However, before a significant event isn’t the only good time to recruit volunteers. A good strategy is to always be recruiting volunteers. By having a proactive volunteer recruitment plan in place, you won’t find yourself in a bind when you need extra help. What are the best volunteer recruitment strategies? Ok, so you know you need volunteers, and you know that it’s always a good time to be recruiting them, but you may still be wondering how to recruit volunteers. The volunteer recruitment ideas in this section will help you figure out how to get people to volunteer with your organization. 1. What Do You Need Help With? Identifying Volunteer Roles Getting your volunteer recruitment right hinges on knowing exactly what roles you need to fill. This is where a deep dive into your organizational needs comes into play. Take a look at the various areas within your operations – perhaps: administrative tasks, event management, or even specialized roles like graphic design or tutoring. Each of these roles is a vital piece of the puzzle, contributing to the smooth running of your organization. Once you have a clear idea of these roles, the next step is to create compelling job descriptions. Think about what makes each role unique and appealing. Post these descriptions on your volunteer webpage, making sure they're not just informative but also engaging. Tailor these roles to attract specific demographics, like retirees for mentoring roles or college students for event planning. 2. Your Volunteers Can Help Recruit: Here’s How Your existing volunteers are a treasure trove of potential new recruits. They're already passionate about your cause and can be perfect ambassadors for your volunteer program. Their personal stories and experiences can resonate deeply with potential volunteers, making them an invaluable resource for expanding your volunteer base. Here’s how you can leverage this resource: Ask volunteers to refer friends or family members who might be interested in joining your cause. Provide them with personalized recruitment letters to hand out, making the process more personal and direct. Equip them with engaging “elevator pitches” that succinctly convey your organization's mission and the rewards of volunteering. Regularly assess their satisfaction and engagement levels. Happy and fulfilled volunteers are more likely to speak positively about their experiences, attracting others to join. 3. Catch Up with Former Volunteers: They Might Come Back! Former volunteers are often an untapped resource when it comes to recruitment. They have firsthand experience with your organization and may only need a gentle nudge to rejoin or assist in other ways. Understanding why they left and addressing those reasons can be key to re-engaging them. Consider these scenarios when reaching out: Some volunteers might have needed a break and could be ready to return. A thoughtful follow-up acknowledging their past contributions can reignite their interest. For those who left due to issues with previous programs, use their feedback as a valuable learning opportunity to improve and then highlight these changes in your outreach. Update those who left due to COVID-19 concerns about your current safety protocols and virtual volunteering options, offering them flexible ways to get involved again. Even if some are unable to commit as before, they could still act as advocates for your program, sharing their positive experiences with potential new volunteers. 4. Get Your Board in on the Action: They're Key to Finding Volunteers Board members are not just for governance; they can play a significant role in volunteer recruitment. Their networks and connections can be a rich source of new volunteers. Encourage them to tap into these networks, offering a unique opportunity for community engagement and support. Board members can: Provide recommendations from their personal and professional contacts. Assist in coordinating corporate volunteering days or special events. Help connect with local clubs or groups looking for volunteering opportunities. Volunteer themselves in various capacities, setting an example and deepening their connection to your cause. 5. Local Businesses = New Volunteers: Let's Partner Up! Forming partnerships with local businesses can significantly enhance your volunteer recruitment efforts. Many companies are eager to contribute to community initiatives, aligning their corporate social responsibility goals with your needs. This collaboration can open up avenues for employee involvement in volunteering. To engage local businesses: Reach out to businesses with established volunteer programs or those offering Volunteer Time Off (VTO). Propose joint volunteering events or projects that align with their corporate values. Utilize corporate sponsorships not just for financial support but also to tap into their employee base for volunteers. Engage with HR departments, particularly for connecting with retirees who might be looking for volunteer opportunities. Highlight volunteer grant programs that incentivize employees to volunteer regularly, benefiting both your organization and their employer. 6. Sponsors Aren't Just for Money: Involve Them in Events! Involving sponsors in your event committees can be a win-win situation. It allows them to have a more hands-on role in your events, fostering a deeper sense of involvement and commitment. This can also encourage them to mobilize their employees as volunteers, enhancing their contribution beyond financial support. Consider the following approaches: Invite sponsors to take active roles in planning and executing events. Offer additional recognition or benefits for sponsors who contribute volunteers or take on significant roles in event committees. Collaborate with sponsors to create volunteer opportunities that align with their corporate goals and values. 7. Civic Groups Are Full of Potential: Let's Connect with Them Local civic groups are often key players in community development and can be a valuable source of dedicated volunteers. These groups, such as Rotary Clubs, local charities, and religious organizations, are deeply invested in improving their communities and often seek meaningful volunteer opportunities for their members. To engage with these groups: Participate in local networking events and invite well-connected board members or volunteers to join you. Join local civic organizations and actively participate in their meetings and events. Offer to speak at their gatherings about your organization's mission and impact. Explore partnerships with local churches, schools, and other community organizations that align with your cause. 8. Info Sessions: A Fun Way to Introduce Your Work to Newbies Information sessions can be an effective way to attract potential volunteers who want to learn more about your organization before committing. These sessions provide a platform for you to showcase your mission, values, and the various volunteer opportunities available. In these sessions, be sure to cover: A comprehensive overview of your organization’s mission and the impact of volunteer work. Detailed information about volunteer roles, responsibilities, and the support provided by your organization. Upcoming volunteer opportunities, both in-person and virtual, catering to different interests and availability. A segment for Q&A, allowing potential volunteers to have their queries addressed. Consider having current volunteers share their experiences, adding a personal touch to the session. 9. Got Skills? Find Pros Who Want to Give Back Engaging with professional organizations can be a strategic move to attract volunteers with specific skill sets. These organizations often have members who are looking for opportunities to apply their professional expertise in a volunteering capacity. Strategies for recruitment through professional organizations: Identify and reach out to local chapters of professional organizations relevant to the skills you need. Present volunteering as an opportunity for professionals to utilize their skills for a noble cause. Highlight how volunteering can offer professional development and networking opportunities. 10. Making Noise on Social Media: Let's Get Seen! Social media platforms are powerful tools for reaching a wide audience and can be effectively used to promote your volunteer opportunities. Regular and engaging posts about your volunteering needs can attract attention and encourage participation. To maximize social media for volunteer recruitment: Consistently post updates about your volunteer opportunities and share success stories. Use visually appealing graphics and engaging content to draw attention. Consider paid advertisements or boosting posts to reach a broader audience. Engage with your audience through comments and direct messages to create a sense of community. 11. Local Media Magic: Spreading the Word Far and Wide Forming alliances with local media outlets can significantly enhance the visibility of your volunteer opportunities. Newspapers, radio stations, and online platforms can reach different segments of your community, spreading the word about your cause. Effective strategies for media partnership: Develop compelling stories that highlight the impact of your volunteers and pitch them to local media. Explore opportunities for paid advertisements, especially in outlets that offer special rates for non-profits. Maintain consistent messaging across all media platforms to strengthen your brand and appeal. 12. Ads That Work: Finding Volunteers Online In the digital age, paid online advertising can be an effective strategy to reach potential volunteers. Platforms like Google AdWords and social media channels offer targeted advertising options to help you reach the right audience. Tips for effective online advertising: Carefully select keywords that are relevant to your volunteer opportunities and audience. Utilize pay-per-click advertising to maximize your budget and reach. Explore programs like Google Ad Grants, which offer financial support to non-profits for online advertising. 13. City Officials Have Friends Too: Network for New Volunteers City officials, with their extensive networks and knowledge of community needs, can be invaluable allies in your volunteer recruitment efforts. They can connect you with potential volunteer groups and other resources within the community. How to leverage city official networks: Request introductions from your board members to city officials. Discuss your volunteer needs with city officials and explore potential collaborations. Utilize their insights and connections to identify new volunteer sources and community partners. 14. A One-Stop Shop: Your Website's Volunteer Corner A well-organized and informative volunteer page on your website can significantly enhance your recruitment efforts. This page serves as the central hub for all information related to volunteering with your organization. Essentials for your volunteer webpage: Include a comprehensive volunteer program calendar and detailed descriptions of current volunteer needs. Provide an easy-to-use sign-up form for prospective volunteers. Offer virtual training resources and a portal for managing volunteer shifts. Regularly update the page with announcements, volunteer highlights, and contact information for your volunteer coordinator. 15. Hosting Virtual Open Houses: A Digital Door to Volunteering Embrace the power of digital platforms by hosting virtual open houses. This innovative approach lets you showcase your organization's work, culture, and volunteer opportunities to a wide audience. Imagine giving potential volunteers a tour of your mission and projects, all from their screens at home. It's a fantastic way to connect, especially with those who prefer online engagement or live farther away. Making It Interactive and Engaging: During these virtual events, engage participants with interactive elements like Q&A sessions, volunteer testimonials, and live chats with team members. It's about creating a welcoming and informative space where people can feel the community spirit and get excited about joining your cause. The goal is to make them feel part of your organization even before they've started volunteering. Conclusion No matter which volunteer recruitment ideas you decide to try, a membership management system makes it easy to identify and reach out to former volunteers, existing volunteers, prospective volunteers, and donors. When you’re ready to maximize your membership management software for volunteer recruitment, make sure to also check out our Ultimate Guide to Volunteer Management for more tips and tricks!