We know volunteer recruitment is always the biggest challenge for volunteer managers and organizations. With so many other organizations competing for volunteers’ time, it can be hard to attract the right people who will become valuable team members. So if finding committed and engaged volunteers seems like mission-impossible, we’ll let you in on a little secret - it’s all about knowing where to look.
So check out our comprehensive list of 20 creative ways to recruit volunteers.
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 love encouraging others to come and help out as well! We all know how powerful word-of-mouth can be!
2. Look for virtual volunteers
If you struggle with recruiting volunteer ideas due to geographic barriers, why not look for virtual volunteers instead? Virtual volunteers can work from home to complete tasks such as admin, 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!
3. Support accessibility
Virtual volunteering is a great way to support people with different abilities, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Supporting accessibility opens up 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 hearing and visually impaired, multiple languages, cultural sensitivities, and disabilities, these simple steps can help you recruit more volunteers.
4. Form partnerships
Forming partnerships doubles results with half as much work. Let’s say you only need volunteers for a few events a year - that takes a lot of effort to recruit year-on-year. So why not partner up with another volunteer organization in a similar industry and share your creative volunteer recruitment ideas and databases with each other. 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. 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 companies in your area for volunteer opportunities, sharing more about the sorts of jobs or tasks volunteers could get help out with. While these may only be one day initially, if the volunteer connects with your mission, it may turn into a long-term engagement.
6. 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 looking for more 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. A simple Q&A that covers why they volunteer and what they love will create an interesting piece of content. Not only does it foster a positive experience for your current volunteers, it also shows potential future volunteers that you really 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. Share updates about any new changes or roles you have available to make them feel like it’s worth joining up again. If they’re interested, ask them to sign up to 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. Post on online databases
There are plenty of online jobs boards where you can post advertisements to recruit more volunteers. 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 students in your organization, even better! Ask them to become your ambassadors and recruit their fellow students! Make sure students volunteering know the benefits they’ll receive, such as a letter of recommendation, discounts or free merch.
11. Through the media
Have you got 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 interview, you can mention that you’re always welcoming new volunteers, and tap into one of the most creative ways to recruit volunteers!
12. Advertise 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
The 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. Host an open day
Sometimes people are afraid of committing before they have all the information. This is why recruitment activities such as hosting an open day, or information session, either virtually or in-person, are a good idea, providing an easy way for potential volunteers to find out more. During this session, you could share more information about your organization and its mission, the types of roles you’re recruiting for, any specific skills or certificates needed (such as Working With Children Check), and give future volunteers the opportunity to ask questions. If you are 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. For events, this might be discounted entry or merchandise, or for charities, it might mean certifications or training programs they would otherwise have to pay for.
Fun recruitment ideas like the rewards or perks you offer should be clearly listed on the job ad to help you attract more volunteers.
16. Sports teams
Sports teams are a fantastic place to find new volunteers. They are fit and healthy, committed, and already work well as a team. Speak to local sports teams in your area about specific events or tasks you need volunteers for, such as a working bee or a market stall. 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 putting ‘VOLUNTEERS NEEDED’ front and centre 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
As we wrote about in our 10 workforce trends for 2021 white paper, micro-volunteering and short term volunteering are experiencing a massive surge in popularity. Based on a 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 jobs or roles that can be completed anytime, anywhere, you can recruit an entirely new group of volunteers.
19. Survey your volunteers
Reach out to all your current and former volunteers and survey them 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 to 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 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 a volunteer management software such as 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
- How do I recruit more volunteers? Read about where to post volunteer opportunities.
- How do you attract and retain volunteers? 30 ways to show your appreciation and better engage & retain your volunteers.
- How do I create a volunteer recruitment plan? Learn how to implement a volunteer recruitment plan here.
Volunteer recruitment ideas conclusion
Now you’ve recruited a great team of volunteers, it’s important to keep them.
Learn more about how to engage long-term volunteers that become a true asset to your organization.
We hope you enjoyed these 20 creative ways to recruit volunteers. If you’d like to learn more about how Rosterfy can help you better engage with your volunteers through a volunteer management solution, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.