If so, then you know the value of the nonpaid worker — the backbone of any nonprofit or community organization.
But HOW do you go about finding volunteers, especially if you need people with a specific skill set such as IT or fundraising?
Recruiting volunteers can be done using online technology and offline techniques. Well-established and new organizations alike rely on both methods to identify a potential volunteer’s skills and interests and determine how best to use them to meet the organization’s needs.
Make a good match
Seek out volunteers who are a good match for your organization. Make sure to match interested volunteers to roles that correspond with their experience, talents and passion. For example, teachers might best be suited to work with children, construction workers could be tasked with physically demanding activities, and/or accountants could work on bookkeeping tasks. Making the right match increases volunteer retention and satisfaction.
- Advertise a call for volunteers on your website’s homepage. Make sure to include a simple recruitment form with specific fields on skills, interest, physical demands, time commitment and experience as appropriate for your needs. Then you can sort for matches.
- Email all your donors, supporters and partners and enlist their help to recruit volunteers. Make sure to link to your website recruitment page.
- Network using social media — Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook — to connect potential volunteers to your recruitment site and advertise your cause.
- Register with an online volunteer-matchmaking service. Look for online services that operate in your region. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation connects local NGOs and community organizations in Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa with foundation employees and partners to assist in their search for volunteers. They even offer board-of-trustees matching services and make onsite visits.
Find people without using technology:
- Speak out at community events. Ask local places of worship, clubs, businesses and schools if you can make a brief presentation to their members, employees or students about your nonprofit and why it’s important. Create passion for your cause. Distribute flyers and collect volunteer registration forms at the event.
- Print fliers and post around the community. Consider the demographics of your potential volunteer needs (age, experience, interest) and target appropriate locations, such as schools, colleges, places of worship and types of businesses.
- Ask your local newspaper, radio and/or TV station to run an advertisement for your organization and provide contact information for potential volunteers.
- Be creative. What works best in your community to attract attention to a cause? Throw a fundraising party and ask your friends to bring their friends.
Use your network
However you recruit, online or offline, remember that your network of friends and family can help you — especially if you are just starting out. If you already work with volunteers, they are your best resource to recruit new ones and replace retiring volunteers.
Consider, for example, what Roxann Seals, the senior manager of volunteer services at the largest food bank in Washington, D.C., has to say: “Our volunteers are truly our best recruiters!”