Volunteers are the lifeblood of a non-profit organization. They are passionate advocates for organizations, sharing their involvement with friends, neighbours and colleagues. A non-profit will not find more effective public relations than a motivated volunteer, the truest of ambassadors!
Not only do volunteers help to save money but they can increase contact with the greater community. You may be thinking, our organization realizes their importance. We know our volunteers are highly talented, believe in our mission and recognize our needs. We utilize them as board members, advisors, public advocates, recruiters and program facilitators.
So, how do you recruit volunteers who so willingly give of their time, energy, and expertise? Some of these may surprise you:
Obvious? Perhaps but it’s often overlooked. You may think it’s self-evident that as a non-profit you’re looking for volunteers; however, you’d be surprised how many people in your circle don’t know
How do you invite people to get involved? Use your existing communication channels to extend an invitation whether its for a specific campaign/event or longer-term role. Consider the following:
• Does your website include a section for prospective volunteers?
• Do you regularly highlight volunteers and volunteer activities on social media?
• Feature volunteer opportunities in your newsletter, along with a call-to-action to volunteer.
• Ask your current volunteers to invite their friends to a volunteer event.
Prospective volunteers are everywhere. You just need to ask.
2. Create an Experience, Focus on the Benefits
When you focus on what volunteers gain by giving of their time, it is far more compelling then “We need your help!”. Think about it. Why should someone give their time, our most precious resource, to your organization?
• Using their skills to make a difference
• Helping others
• Connecting with people in their community
3. Have Specific Roles
If the organization takes the time to write “job descriptions” and offers training, a volunteer will have a better idea of what to do to succeed. What volunteer wants to be a failure at a task? Volunteers want to feel proud of what they do, just like paid staff. So, make them feel proud.
When you put out the call for volunteers, make it specific. What exactly is it that your organization is looking for? By making a specific ask for tour guides, for greeters, for event planners, or photographers prospective volunteers will know exactly what you’re looking for, and see themselves in your posting.
If you’re able to offer training, make sure you mention it. Looking for special experience, mention that too. Getting specific paints a clear picture.
4. Make it Easy
Imagine this. You put a call out for volunteers and it has generated interest…or at least you think it has but then you find out that online form hasn’t been working on your organization’s website for a number of days. Volunteers can be turned off before you even have the chance to meet them. Sounds dramatic but it really does happen.
TIP: Keep it simple. Have a great big ‘Apply to Volunteer’ button on your home page. If it’s easy to navigate through, asks basic questions and has an automatic reply your off to a great start. You want your prospective volunteers to know that you value them right out of the gate.
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
The degree to which volunteers add value to your work and mission is dependent on many things. Remember, once you’ve recruited a new volunteer, your work has only just began. Many would argue that retaining volunteers is even more important than recruiting them.
Need assistance developing a recruitment campaign, orientation program or recognition program for your volunteers? Take Roots can help!