Volunteer recruitment strategies you can try today

Finding and retaining the right volunteers for your nonprofit, organization or city can be the hardest part of the job… but what if it doesn’t have to be?

Recruiting volunteers can be extremely challenging when you consider all of the other opportunities someone might have available to them. Some opportunities involve working toward a full-time paid position, school credit, huge worldwide impacts and so much more. The important part of this is considering what makes your organization unique from the rest and what can you offer volunteers that others are not.

Recruiting volunteers can come with a slew of challenges. Let’s dive into some recruitment solutions you can use right away. 

Preparing your recruitment strategy

Recruiting volunteers should follow the same process as securing full-time employees: application, screening, interview and offer. You could source a volunteer recruiter who posts position availability on specific recruiting websites and conducts initial screenings. 


A volunteer action plan

To get your organization aligned, you need a prospective volunteer action plan that sets forth clear expectations and guidelines to support volunteer recruitment and engagement. The trick is to start with the end in mind. Not only do you want to recruit volunteers who are incredible with the right skills and cultural fit, but you want to retain this person for the entire length of the project. 

Let’s take a look at a few steps to follow as you prepare your action plan:

    1. Set your goals: These are key performance indicators (KPIs) that demonstrate how well your volunteer is meeting expectations such as showing up on time, checking in, completing tasks and meeting deadlines. This could also encompass internal KPIs like improving communication between your organization and donors, converting donors to stakeholders, and so on. 
    2. Have a plan in mind: Know exactly what your volunteer will do when they get selected. This will determine how many confirmed volunteers you need and the skills necessary to complete the tasks. 
    3. Write a job description: Have a plan for attracting specific types of volunteers with a stellar job description that highlights not only the expectations for the role and minimum experience necessary but the company culture and what the recruit will get out of working with you. 
  • Create an onboarding process: Onboarding is necessary to ensure the longevity of your volunteers. Whether your needs are for a single event or for a six-month stint, you want to gather volunteers who are willing and excited to show up — onboarding can get you there. This is the time to build excitement, provide insight into the “why” of your organization, and make the new recruit feel welcomed to the company. 
  • Remember engagement: All of these steps are meant to keep your volunteers interested and engaged in your organization. While the word “engage” may bring forth images of mixers and meetings, it also should mean that teams have a way to contact you, ask questions and learn more about the organization — a way to feel seen and heard.

The best way to get a plan together is to work with an existing volunteer or group of volunteers. These are people who have experienced the current onboarding process and can shed light on what they believe could be missing or improved on. They could also help you develop an exhaustive job description so you don’t miss any position expectations. 


20 Creative ways to recruit great volunteers

Now, let’s dive into a comprehensive list of 20 creative volunteer recruitment strategy methods:

1. Refer a friend

Your current volunteers are actually one of the best avenues for recruitment. Encourage them to refer a friend or family member who might be interested in signing up. If they love being part of your organization, they will also love encouraging others to come and help out. We all know how powerful word-of-mouth can be!

2. Look for virtual volunteers

If you struggle with recruiting due to geographic barriers, why not look for virtual volunteers instead? A virtual volunteer can work from home to complete tasks in administration, IT, marketing, graphic design and fundraising — taking some of the pressure off your team. 

Make sure you still onboard these virtual volunteers and treat them just as you would any other volunteer, so they know they feel like part of the team. Your recruitment strategy should always include an onboarding process to help support your new volunteer.

3. Support accessibility

Virtual volunteering is a great way to support people with different skill sets, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Supporting accessibility opens your recruitment to a diverse pool of talented volunteers who may have previously been excluded. From making sure your location is wheelchair accessible to utilizing technology to make programs accessible for the hearing and the visually impaired, multiple languages, cultural sensitivities, and disabilities, these simple steps can help you recruit more volunteers.



What use is recruiting volunteers if you don't know the value of your program?

Measuring the impact your volunteer program is making is easy when you know the value of each volunteer.

In this White Paper we show you how The British Heart Foundation and Lifeline are able measure the value of their program.



4. Form partnerships

Forming partnerships could double the results with half as much work. Let’s say you only need volunteers for a few shifts a year — that takes a lot of effort to recruit year-over-year. So why not partner up with another volunteer organization in a similar industry and combine your efforts for a targeted recruitment strategy? It’s a win-win! Alternatively, you may be able to partner with a sports team, school or community group, offering them incentives to encourage a reciprocal partnership.

5. Connect with corporate volunteers

We’ve seen a huge increase in corporate volunteering as part of corporate social responsibility initiatives. More often than not, corporate volunteers are given one day (or sometimes up to a week) of charitable leave to volunteer with an organization of their choice. 

Make sure your organization is front of mind by connecting with the HR manager at businesses in your area for volunteer opportunities, and sharing more about the sorts of opportunities or tasks volunteers could get to help with. While these may only be one day initially, if the volunteer connects with your mission, it may turn into a long-term engagement where they may choose to continue volunteering outside of working hours.

6. Post on social media

Of course, social media is one of the best ways to speak directly to your community. As well as posting regular updates about what your organization has achieved, make sure you remind followers when you are recruiting volunteers. To personalize it even more, you could record a video of the CEO, or existing volunteers, speaking about what they do day-to-day and why they love volunteering with you. 

You can also do a deep dive into the comments and followers of your pages. If you see some names cropping up again and again, why not ask them if they’d be interested in becoming more involved?

Stuck for social media content ideas? Check out these 50 Motivational Volunteer Quotes To Inspire Your Volunteer Army.

7. Celebrate volunteer of the month

Show your appreciation by awarding a volunteer of the month, and sharing the news on your social media pages and website.  Not only does it foster a positive experience for your current volunteers, but it also shows potential future volunteers that you care about your team.

8. Use your database

Chances are, you have an Excel spreadsheet (or maybe even paper forms) of past volunteers, and donors lying around somewhere. Get in touch with these people and ask them if they’d like to get involved again. If they’re interested, ask them to sign up for your volunteer management system, so you never lose track of them again. 

Implementing volunteer management software can be used to help streamline database communication.

9. Publish on online databases

There are plenty of online job boards where you can post advertisements to recruit a potential volunteer. People can filter by industry, location, role, time commitment and other factors to find ads that suit their interests and availability. So once they apply with your organization, they’ve actively chosen you!

Check out our post on writing a volunteer job description that stands out.

10. Advertise at schools and universities

Students know volunteering is a great way to create networks, gain job skills and build up a CV, so make sure they know you would love to welcome them onto your volunteer team. 

Hang posters around campus, speak to the administration team about advertising in the newsletter or on the website, or participate in recruitment fairs to reach students. If you already have a few student supporters in your organization, even better. Ask them to become your ambassadors and recruit their fellow students! 

Make sure student volunteers know the benefits they’ll receive, such as a letter of recommendation, discounts, class credits or free merch. 

11. Engage with the media

Do you have something newsworthy going on in your organization? Perhaps you’re celebrating your 10th birthday, launching a new service, or opening in a new location - these are all newsworthy angles that local newspapers would be interested in hearing about. During the news interview, you can mention that you’re always welcoming new volunteers, and tap into one of the most creative ways to recruit volunteers.

12. Publicize in the paper or radio

Even if you don’t have anything particularly newsworthy, you can still reach readers or listeners through advertising in the local paper or radio station. Many offer discounted rates for non-profits and charities, so it won’t break the bank and you will be able to reach a new audience.

13. Host a market stall

Local weekend produce or craft market is full of local community members and is a great recruitment activity to find potential new volunteers. Consider setting up a market stall with a raffle to win donated prizes, or cooking a BBQ or sausage sizzle. Not only can you raise some vital funds, but you can attract the attention of people in the area, who could be interested in joining up as a volunteer.

14. Announce an open day

Sometimes people are afraid of committing to a volunteer opportunity before they have all the information. This is why recruitment activities such as hosting an online or in-person open day or information session are a good idea. 

During this session, you could share more details about your organization and its mission, the types of roles you’re recruiting for, and any specific skills or certificates needed and allow future volunteers to ask questions. 

If you’re hosting the session on-site, offer a tour of the site so they can see first-hand the types of things they might be helping out with.

15. Offer perks in exchange

While it would be nice if everyone was intrinsically motivated by causes they really care about, the reality is that many people are motivated by extrinsic rewards. That means they are interested in the benefits or perks they will receive for volunteering.

Fun recruitment ideas like the rewards or perks you offer should be listed on the job ad to help you attract more volunteers. 

16. Sports teams

Sports teams and clubs are a fantastic place to find a new volunteer. Athletes are fit and healthy, committed and already work well as a team. Speak to local teams about specific opportunities or tasks you need volunteers for. You may even offer something in return, such as a donation to help buy new training gear or a BBQ at their next home game.

17. Your website

People may land on your website for all sorts of reasons, so capitalize on these visitors by advertising that you need volunteers front and center on your website. Link to a sign-up form that connects to your volunteer management system so your potential volunteers can sign up and onboard themselves without you having to lift a finger!

18. Short-term opportunities

Micro-volunteering and short-term volunteering are experiencing a massive surge in popularity. Based on the simple idea that busy people are willing to volunteer their time in short bite-sized chunks, to complete easy tasks that can be done on their own terms, and often online.

By creating short roles or opportunities that can be completed anytime, anywhere, you can recruit an entirely new group of volunteers. 

19. Survey your volunteers

Create a survey for all your current and former volunteers to understand what they like and dislike about the volunteer program. The most successful volunteer recruitment campaigns can tap into these insights to find out exactly what motivates volunteers.

The survey should include questions such as:

  • What made you sign up for our organization?
  • How did you hear about us?
  • What roles do you like doing? Why?
  • What roles did you dislike doing? Why?
  • How did you find the onboarding process?
  • What could we do to improve the volunteer program?
  • If you stopped volunteering with us, why?

Using the results from the survey, you can improve your volunteer retention, engagement and recruitment plan while reducing turnover and creating efficiencies. You may even re-engage some former volunteers who are ready to come back if they think things are changing!

20. Volunteer management strategy

Don’t lose your volunteers in cyberspace! Using volunteer management software like Rosterfy allows you to streamline the entire volunteer recruitment process, so volunteers don’t slip through the cracks.

Scheduling automated communications can reduce the loss of potential volunteers during the sign-up process. Rosterfy allows you to set up automated:

  • Welcome email.
  • Shift applications open.
  • Confirmation of shift.
  • Training instructions & reminders.
  • Volunteer briefs.
  • Reward & recognition instructions.
  • Thank you emails.
  • Auto-generated certificates for completing training and inductions.


About Rosterfy 

Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they’re passionate about through volunteer and paid workforce management technology. Our proven end-to-end technology allows charities, events and nonprofit organizations to recruit, register, screen, train, manage and report with ease. Rosterfy can help replace manual processes with automation to better engage and retain your volunteers and paid staff.

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