How to recruit volunteers—Finding the perfect match

 

The best volunteers aren’t born—they’re made. Great organizations recruit good matches for the work that needs to be done, and they guide development of their volunteers.

 

The need for more manpower is the obvious reason for recruiting volunteers. But, there are other motives, too:[1]

 

  • To unburden paid staff members
  • To increase diversity in your organization
  • To better publicize what you’re all about
  • To maximize your budget

 

In 2013, Canadian volunteers logged 1.9 billion hours, with 44 percent clocking in with about 154 hours each.[2] And, research from the U.S. shows that volunteers tend to donate to charities more than their non-volunteering counterparts.[3] Recruiting volunteers can be a great way to supplement giving. Read on to discover best practices for growing your army of volunteers.

 

Tips for recruiting volunteers

From a high level, follow these steps to build your volunteer ranks:[4],[5]

 

  • Do your homework.

 

Study your current volunteers. Know why they support you, how they were recruited and who they are in terms of demographics. Consider researching volunteers from other organizations to gain other insight on the mind and motivations of volunteers.

 

  • Get strategic.

 

Use intelligence on current volunteers to target additional pools of talent. Think of potential volunteers as consumers, and highlight for them your unique value proposition. What makes you special? Answer that question and use it to shape messages to potential volunteer groups and individuals within those groups.

 

  • Broadcast your need.

 

Show up at local festivals. Write letters to the editor. Create PSAs for local radio and television. Post notices at laundromats, grocery stores, high schools, college and university campuses, churches, community centres, post offices, etc. Getting the word out is important, but research shows that face-to-face contact is the best way to recruit volunteers.

 

Reach out to organizations whose members like to volunteer. Try a local Rotary Club, women’s organizations, houses of worship, and college student and alumni organizations. Provide logo’d gear at their meetings. Items such as multi-ink pens, or Post-it® notes with a to-do list make an impression.

 

Leverage online platforms. LinkedIn®, Twitter® and Facebook® are great outlets for recruiting volunteers. Websites such as Volunteer Canada connect volunteers and organizations. To attract would-be volunteers, share a volunteering calendar and publish profiles of volunteers.

 

  • Close the deal.

 

Show why being a volunteer for your cause is a benefit for would-be helpers. Invite them to shadow current volunteers and staff members. Guarantee flexible hours. Ask them what they enjoy doing, and accommodate their requests. A bendable USB light reminds volunteers of your organization’s flexibility and acts as a great welcome gift.

 

Show you take volunteers seriously by providing coordination and supervision, and give volunteers titles to show your commitment to their time and talent. Presenting volunteers with an imprinted magnetic name badge is a thoughtful touch that reflects their dedication.

 

When you identify potential volunteers who can’t make the commitment, remember that “No” doesn’t mean “Never.” Sometimes, the timing isn’t right. Stay in touch, because their life circumstances will change, and your cause will be top of mind when they’re eager to lend a helping hand. Mail a felt pennant magnet with your logo or an imprinted collapsible Koozie® to stay on their radar.
As you recruit volunteers, screen candidates to discover the best fits for the job. A vacancy could be better than a poor match. Compatibility with your culture and cause amplifies the effort of eager volunteers. Happy recruiting!

 

[1] “Recruiting Volunteers.” Community Tool Box. University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development, 2015. Web. 19 May 2016. <http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/structure/volunteers/recruiting/main>.

 

[2] Turcotte, Martin. “Volunteering and Charitable Giving in Canada.” Statistics Canada. N.d. Web. 1 June 2016. <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-652-x/89-652-x2015001-eng.htm>

 

[3] “Volunteering and Civic Life in America.” Corporation for National and Community Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2016. <https://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/infographic.cfm>.

 

[4] “Recruiting Volunteers.” Community Tool Box. University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development, 2015. Web. 19 May 2016. <http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/structure/volunteers/recruiting/main>.

 

[5] Zackal, James. “7 Super Steps to Recruit Volunteers.” Top Nonprofits. Top Nonprofits, LLC, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 19 May 2016. <https://topnonprofits.com/7-super-steps-to-recruit-volunteers/>.

 

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