How to Recruit Nonprofit Volunteers
To cast a wide net, you want to use more than one method to find volunteers for your nonprofit, and you don’t want to spend much money on those methods. After all, you’re looking for free help. Persistence matters: Good volunteer recruitment is like a healthy habit that you want to repeat. Here are a few of the most common and most successful methods for recruiting volunteers:
Placing announcements in the media: Newspapers and radio and television stations often publish or air public service announcements for nonprofit organizations. Keep your press releases short — less than two pages for print media and less than 30 seconds when you read it aloud for radio and television.
Hanging posters: Grocery stores, drugstores, churches, laundromats, schools, and civic buildings often have bulletin boards where you can post announcements. For best results, place them thoughtfully. For instance, put your call for foster homes for kittens at the pet food store and your community garden poster at nurseries and home improvement stores.
Taking advantage of word of mouth: Encourage your current volunteers to recruit others. Have a bring a friend day with time for socializing. Ask your volunteers to post your posters in their places of business, and don’t forget to invite your own friends and associates.
Contacting schools and churches: Both of these institutions often look for ways for students and members of the congregation to get involved in community service.
Service learning — through which students learn about a topic by volunteering in their communities and then reflecting on what they have learned in their classrooms — is a growing practice. In fact, many high schools and colleges now have centers for community relations and student volunteering.
Don’t forget to reach out to the young people in your area. By doing so, you benefit from their skills and ideas, and you also contribute to training the next generation of volunteers!
Relying on clubs and fraternal groups: Many professional and social clubs include serving the community in their missions. From Kiwanis and Elks to the Junior League, Chamber of Commerce, or campus-based sororities and fraternities, clubs and membership groups can be excellent volunteer resources.
Approaching corporations and businesses: In some communities, businesses look for volunteer opportunities for their employees. Businesses encourage employee volunteerism in many ways: If they have a community relations, community affairs, or corporate giving department, it’s likely to be a good place to begin asking about employee volunteers.
Check with your local United Way affiliate to see whether it operates a loaned-executive program. With this type of program, you may be able to borrow the business expertise of a corporate manager.