How to Recruit Nonprofit Volunteers through the Internet - dummies

How to Recruit Nonprofit Volunteers through the Internet

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

Finding volunteers for your nonprofit may be as easy as booting up your computer. Besides posting volunteer listings on your organization’s website, you also can post on other sites. Several organizations maintain web databases where your organization can list its volunteer needs. Prospective volunteers can search the databases by ZIP code and the type of volunteer work available. Check out the following sites:

  • VolunteerMatch invites nonprofits to set up accounts identifying the kinds of volunteers they need.

  • Points of Light manages several projects linking volunteer centers to one another. Its HandsOn Network links volunteers at 250 centers in 16 countries to meaningful projects. It also operates networks for youth volunteers, alums of AmeriCorps who want to continue volunteering, and corporate volunteers.

  • Idealist and Craigslist are other widely used tools for finding volunteers.

  • Service Leader maintains the Virtual Volunteering Project, which can connect your organization with volunteers who aren’t physically located near your office. Maybe you can use online volunteers to tutor students, answer questions via e-mail, help write grants or news releases, or consult on designing your website.

  • United Way may have a volunteer tutoring or mentoring program in your area.

  • Youth Service America helps you involve young volunteers in your work. It organizes an annual Global Youth Service Day and other opportunities for volunteers between the ages of 5 and 25.

Nonprofit organizations also recruit volunteers through their pages on social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. To get your name out there, create a page for your organization.

These platforms work particularly well when you describe specific activities that your contacts can do to assist your nonprofit, and when people who know your organization well post photographs and news for their friends to read. Their networks extend your nonprofit’s reach. Remember, opportunities to do things with friends motivate many people to volunteer.

Take tips from other nonprofits about ways to reach out to and invite volunteers through your website. Remember, you can do much more than describe your nonprofit on your website or social media pages: You can even put people to work for you who don’t step inside your nonprofit’s doors. Among many fine examples, four sites that inspire involvement are:

  • This social networking site invites people to identify causes they care about and then volunteer. Its use of strong visual imagery, surveys, and clearly described activities is a good model for a social media site that succeeds at engaging volunteers.

  • The Humane Society of the United States: The home page offers clear, prominent instructions on actions you can take to advance the well-being of animals.

  • The Surfrider Foundation: This site prominently features a “Take Action” menu on its home page, which invites visitors to advocate for legislation and activities that protect shores and the ocean.

  • This site makes excellent use of photographs, graphs that illustrate the effectiveness of its work, and a “Get Involved” menu.