3 Steps to Successful Volunteer Recruitment Campaigns Using the Current Volunteers

3 Steps to Successful Volunteer Recruitment Campaigns Using the Current Volunteers

“Tell-a-Friend” initiatives are an easy way to create successful volunteer recruitment campaigns by tapping into the networks of your existing volunteers. Your biggest fans will be more than happy to help you spread the word, but they need encouragement and the tools to do it.

That’s where word of mouth marketing campaigns can be an asset to your volunteer recruitment efforts. 

These campaigns are simple, yet powerful ways to use social proof to spread the word. To get your campaign rolling, pull together a small team of volunteers to help develop it.

By involving volunteers at the very outset, you’ll gain buy-in and cultivate a willingness to help. So, don’t do this in a vacuum without their participation.

How to Get Current Volunteers to Spread the Word

Step One: Learn & Engage

Start by deepening your understanding of what motivates your volunteers – Why do they continue to help out? What do they get out of volunteering? What do they tell others about their experience?  

It’s important to understand which messages your volunteers will be comfortable sharing and which ones their friends will understand. Focus on the specific words they use to describe what they do in partnership with you. Also, be sure to poll volunteers on the specific communications methods they prefer (email, social media platforms, etc.)

You can gather this information through any or all of the following:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Comment cards
  • Individual conversations

Free [eCourse] Better Volunteer Recruitment in 6 Easy Steps

Learn how to cut through the clutter and connect with enthusiastic supporters.


Step Two: Equip & Empower

To kick off and ensure successful volunteer recruitment campaigns, give your volunteers ways they can share based on why they love your nonprofit. 

You don’t need to worry that your volunteers will be put out if you ask them to help you recruit more volunteers. Here are three reasons why your supporters will happily spread the word about your cause and some word of mouth marketing strategies for each.

They Love Your Organization

  • People will happily spread the word because …
    • They love you and your cause
    • You’ve given them something to talk about related to your mission
    • You’ve made your information super fast and easy to share
  • Do this to inspire word of mouth …
    • Create buzz-worthy information and events
    • Share short and smart tips, facts, feel goods
    • Include social sharing buttons on every web page
    • Offer free training to the public

Helping Out Makes them Feel Good

  • People will happily spread the word because …
    • It makes them feel smart
    • They feel important and like an “insider”
    • They genuinely want to help
    • They’ll get to express themselves and their identity
  • Do this to inspire word of mouth …
    • Include a “tell-a-friend” link on every web page that mentions volunteering
    • Ask for volunteer testimonials that focus on how their role aligns with their values
    • Give volunteers exclusive online badges or bling to wear
    • Invite volunteers to lead recruitment teams

They Feel Part of the In-Group

  • People will happily spread the word because …
    • They are part of your volunteer “family”
    • They belong to your local neighborhood or community
    • They are part of a successful team
    • They consider themselves “insiders”
  • Do this to inspire word of mouth …
    • Offer “sneak peek” insider info they can share as some who is “in the know”
    • Offer priority registration and seating for events
    • Facilitate team building activities that strengthen team spirit
    • Launch group projects that build greater cohesion over time

Step Three: Make it Easy to Share

The final step to successful volunteer recruitment campaigns is creating simple ways the info gathered in Step Two can be shared online or on land. When creating text, graphics, or videos, feature the key words volunteers shared in Step One so you are sure to be “speaking their language.”

Below are just a few ways you can create pre-packaged content that can be easily shared:

  • Tell-a-friend buttons & links on your website that trigger emails
  • Emails sent to volunteers to forward to friends
  • Social media posts & pics (simple, but inspiring)
  • Post Cards
  • Business Cards

More Tips for Successful Volunteer Recruitment Campaigns

Below are a few more tips to keep in mind to make your campaign even stronger.

  • Ask volunteers directly to share and like your content and social media properties.
  • Include a start and end date for the campaign, so you ask volunteers to focus a short, discrete amount of time versus an open-ended ask.
  • Keep track of the number of volunteers who are referred by your team and celebrate each step of their progress.
  • Personally thank those that refer applicants with handwritten notes or emails.
  • Include a “tell-a-friend” link on EVERY webpage that mentions volunteering.
  • Offer “sneak peek” insider info they can share as someone who is “in the know.”
  • Create videos that feature volunteers in them that they will want to share with others.