I recently asked members in our VolunteerPro Insiders Facebook group which of these is harder for people new to volunteer management: volunteer retention or volunteer recruitment? The results show a clear winner in volunteer retention; however, at VolunteerPro we are constantly suggesting new and innovative ways you can make the most common volunteer recruitment methods work for your organization, even during a global pandemic!
In this blog post, we will cover the most common volunteer recruitment methods so that you can walk away with knowledge on how you can utilize them to find your ideal volunteers.
7 Common Volunteer Recruitment Methods
Volunteers are mission critical to organizations, and It can feel discouraging if you don’t have enough volunteers to help you move your mission forward.
Review these volunteer recruitment methods and develop a strategic, repeatable process that utilizes them all to help you will help you find your ideal volunteers and develop a plan to reach them.
A VolunteerMatch survey found that 71% of volunteers found their role through word-of-mouth, which implies that your volunteers’ families, friends, colleagues, etc., are your best bet to recruit new volunteers to your organization.
Encouraging your happy and engaged volunteers to share your organization’s opportunities is one of the most effective volunteer recruitment methods you can use.
Here are a few creative techniques you can add to your word-of-mouth marketing plan:
- Encourage volunteer-generated content: As your volunteers start getting more involved with your organization, encourage them to share their experiences. This can take form in a social media post that shows them volunteering (make sure they know to protect sensitive information/clients), or consider asking them to contribute a guest blog post on your website where they can rave about your organization and the volunteer opportunities.
- Get Testimonials: Encourage volunteers to submit testimonials on their experience that you can add to your volunteer webpage. Community members who come across your webpage will read those testimonials and may feel moved to get involved based on what they’ve read from real volunteers.
- Create a Referral Program: Offer perks to your volunteers that spread the word about your organization. For example, offer your volunteers a token of your appreciation, perhaps a t-shirt that you only get when someone you refer to the volunteer program signs up to volunteer.
- Host a Contest: Offer your volunteers the chance to win something unique to your organization, such as breakfast with a board member or lunch with the CEO. Then, collect entries based on how many times a volunteer shares your organization’s volunteer recruitment marketing messages on social media.
Your organization’s website is still the best place to house information regarding your organization and the volunteer opportunities you offer.
On another level, your volunteer recruitment page is the most important online marketing tool you have at your disposal. It is the page to which you will send potential visitors via your blog, emails, newsletters, social media posts, etc. So, don’t leave its design to chance!
Here are four quick tips to make the most out of this space. You can read more into these elements in our blog post on volunteer recruitment pages.
- Include a strong hero image, header, and sub-header. Consider this your organization’s welcome mat. What first impression do you want to give?
- Include elements that build trust. This is where your testimonials can come in to play. You can also use ratings, reviews, bios on your volunteer services team, impact statements, and who your ideal volunteer is.
- Nest information by linking to pages with more information. No one wants to scroll through eternity until they find what they are looking for! To keep potential volunteers on your page longer, encourage them to click on a link to get more information on topics that are too detailed to include on an overview page. Some ideas include FAQ’s, volunteer requirements, success stories, and current volunteer opportunities.
- Insert a clear call to action. One mistake many nonprofits make with their volunteer webpage is that they offer an “all or nothing” option to get involved. Either complete the application or leave the page. This approach leaves potential future interest behind. So, it’s a good idea to offer information that they can takeaway to inform their decision making via an opt-in form. Consider creating an info kit for download by entering their first name and email address as an easy way to keep the conversation going.
Even though current conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic will make this approach more difficult to implement, live presentations to churches, schools, civic groups, professional associations, etc., can still take place.
Consider moving your presentations online via Zoom and start enticing community members to get involved as a volunteer at your organization when it is safe for them to do so.
Recruitment Events and Volunteer Fairs
This is another volunteer recruitment method that has been put on the back burner due to the coronavirus pandemic; however, it can yield some results for your organization in the future if you participate in the right ones.
In order for the investment of time and resources to pay off, only commit to attending fairs that are tailored to your organization’s cause area, or fairs that are hosted by organization’s that are typical providers of volunteers, such as universities, corporations, or volunteer centers.
Social media and other communication methods can do wonders for marketing your organization and the volunteer opportunities you offer in your community; however, they only reach as far as your current network.
This is where paid advertising comes in. One of the biggest benefits of paid advertising is that a single message can reach a large or very specific audience, depending on the medium you select.
Some options for paid advertising include:
- Magazines or newspapers
- Local radio and television stations
- Social media (specifically, Facebook Ads)
While paid advertising can open up new worlds of people to your organization, this method will require funding, and the expertise of your marketing team to see results.
Local Volunteer Centers
Service clubs are found in nearly every community, and while they tend to focus on specific cause areas, you are bound to find one that supports the work of your organization.
Clubs such as Kiwanis or Rotary are defined as organizations where members meet regularly to volunteer hands-on to help their community. Develop relationships with members in these groups, or join one yourself, and you’ll open up your audience of potential volunteers to a pool of committed community members.
Much like service clubs, big corporations typically have a corporate social responsibility arm that generates support for nonprofit organizations in certain geographically and/or cause area boundaries.
Research corporations that have a large presence in your organization’s service area and work through a plan to build a sustainable partnership with corporate volunteer programs that align with your organization’s mission, values, and volunteer opportunities.
Your Next Steps
It’s important that you analyze each of the above volunteer recruitment methods to determine if they are right for your organization.
Some will have more success than others, and some, might not work for the volunteers you are trying to recruit to your cause.
Whichever of the above volunteer recruitment methods you use, you can be assured that with a strategy in place, your organization will gain the exposure needed to be top of mind as the go-to place for volunteering in your community.