Tosha Anderson

  Tosha Anderson


Are you looking to recruit new volunteers to your nonprofit organization, but aren’t quite sure how to do it?

According to a recent survey conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 25 percent of Americans take the time to volunteer. As a non-profit manager, this can be a daunting statistic.

How are you supposed to motivate people to give up their time for your organization?

Read on to learn how to recruit volunteers for your nonprofit organization.

Clarify Your Needs

Time is a very valuable thing. When someone volunteers for a non-profit, they want to know that they’re using their time wisely. And they want to know that what they’re doing is actually making some kind of impact.

For volunteers to understand the impact of their work, you need to take the time to understand the needs of your organization. Make sure you’re as specific as possible.

For example, if you run a non-profit that provides meals to homeless people, it’s not enough to simply say, “We need more helpers.” Instead, ask yourself questions like these:

  • Do we need more volunteers serving meals at events?
  • Do we need help with raising awareness around the issue of homelessness?
  • Do we need help with social media and content management to get the word out about our organization?

Whatever your needs are, make sure you define them early on. Then, you can draft a recruitment message that targets the right audience.

To help hone in on your message, we suggest asking current volunteers, board members, and other staff members what the mission means to them. Why did they get involved in volunteering? What have their experiences taught them?

Asking these questions will help you create a more specific recruitment message that strikes a chord with your target audience.

Get the Word Out

Once you’ve created a message for your target audience, it’s time to amplify it.

If you simply post your message on your website and wait for the volunteers to start rolling in, you’ll be sorely disappointed. In addition to posting on your website, we also suggest recruiting volunteers through good old fashioned word-of-mouth.

People are more inclined to say yes to do something when asked by someone they know. So, encourage your employees to start asking around for volunteers. Oftentimes, a lot of people have the desire to volunteer. But, they don’t take the initiative to research volunteer organizations/events in their own time.

If a volunteer opportunity is presented to them via a friend or family member, they’ll be much more likely to take the bait.

Beyond word of mouth, we also suggest posting your recruitment message on your social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all great places to reach volunteers you otherwise wouldn’t.

In addition to posting on your organization’s page, ask your staff members to repost your recruitment messages. This way, they can reach a wider audience. It’s also a good idea to attend volunteer fairs and connect with websites that list local volunteer opportunities.

You can also post information about your volunteer needs on sites like VolunteerMatch, VolunteerHub, and LinkedIn.

Here are some other hot spots for recruiting new volunteers.

Schools and Universities. Students tend to have more flexible schedules, and college students tend to have more free time on their hands. Plus, many students are eager to volunteer, not just because they want to help out, but also because they want to boost their resumes and widen their experiences.

We suggest getting in touch with the student services department for help in recruiting volunteers. You may even find a school that wants to partner with your nonprofit in some way to make the exchange beneficial for the both of you.

Businesses. Many large corporations and businesses are looking for ways to get their employees involved in the community.

While it’s partially true that businesses like to lend a helping hand, it’s also true that businesses know that volunteering and working with the community is good for their brand image. You can approach the community affairs, community relations, or corporate giving department within a company to discuss volunteer recruitment.

Community Groups and Clubs. Many community groups and clubs are also happy to lend their hand to volunteer. You can reach out to social clubs, professional clubs, campus-based fraternities and sororities, and other organizations for help.

Make the Onboarding Process Seamless

If the onboarding process is confusing and disorganized, you’re going to have a hard time recruiting new volunteers.

Now, this doesn’t mean your onboarding process needs to be as simple as putting down your name and number on a sheet of paper. You should still take the necessary steps to vet your volunteers by conducting interviews, asking for references, and completing background checks if necessary.

However, the onboarding process should be clear and straightforward. Dedicate a section of your website to explain what qualifications you’re looking for in a volunteer.

Your website should also have volunteer applications readily available that can be downloaded and set back in via email. After sending in an application, clearly communicate what the next steps will be.

Also, make sure you respond to volunteer applications in a timely manner. If you wait a month or more, someone’s schedule might change. Show people that you’re eager for their help by responding in a prompt manner.

Make It Fun

While volunteering for your organization may involve some nitty-gritty and emotionally exhausting work, you still want to make sure that your volunteers are enjoying themselves.

In addition to regular volunteer events, you should also organize fun activities that allow your volunteers to cultivate relationships with one another and let loose a bit. For example, at the end of a big volunteer season, you could organize a pizza party for all of your volunteers to attend.

Are You Ready to Recruit?

Now that you know how to recruit volunteers, it’s time to put these tips into action. Before you know it, you’ll have volunteers lining up at the door to help you out!

Also, if you’re looking to do some fundraising for your non-profit, be sure to check out these essential rules.

Tosha Anderson is the founder of The Charity CFO, an organization offering accounting and thought leadership skills to nonprofit agencies. Tosha created The Charity CFO after realizing the need for specialized skills in nonprofits with limited financial resources and increasing pressure to keep costs low despite mounting compliance and financial reporting needs. With nonprofit experience as an auditor, a CFO, a board member, a volunteer, and a consultant, Tosha works with non-profits with on-going accounting needs.

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