Volunteers are the foundation for nonprofits. You can’t run a successful nonprofit without them! So how can you attract great volunteers? Having a great mission and a friendly staff isn’t always enough to draw the right kind of volunteers. There are many creative ways to attract volunteers for your nonprofit that will help with your unique circumstances. Here are five simple and fun volunteer recruitment ideas to get you the best results:
1. Hold on to current volunteers
What’s easier than getting a new volunteer? Keeping an old one. Make the effort to get to know your current volunteers. Build a relationship so that they are more likely to stay with you. They will also be more likely to tell you if something is wrong or they are becoming unhappy with their job. Give small gifts of appreciation to let your volunteers know how important they are. Put a system in place for getting regular feedback from your volunteers. Giving them a voice will help them want to stick around.
2. Say more than just “volunteer”
If you saw a job ad that was looking for a “cleaner,” what would you think? What am I cleaning? Where do I need to show up? What is the goal? What are the hours? People often have the same reaction to seeing the phrase “volunteers needed.” That is why volunteer job titles are important. Get creative and specific when asking for a volunteer position. Avoid words like “assistant” or “aid” if at all possible, since they aren’t clear. Besides a descriptive title, make sure you offer details on exactly what the volunteer will need to do.
3. What’s the impact?
Volunteers give their time for the greater good. Whether you help animals, homeless people or the environment, all volunteers want to make a difference. However, not all volunteers will make the connection that taking out the trash and mopping the floors is helping the cause. It’s up to you to cast the vision for all the parts that make up your team. Highlight the impact and purpose that each volunteer will have. When people feel important, they are more motivated.
4. Create short term project teams and goals
One pitfall of nonprofits is sharing too much of their long-term vision. The weight of all there is to do overwhelms many potential volunteers. If you say your goal is to build 100 houses, you may scare off volunteers who think they aren’t skilled or don’t have the time. But, if you ask for volunteers to devote two weekends to building one house, they can jump on board. Make short term projects that seem achievable to potential volunteers.
5. Make it fun
Be sure to include the “fun” in your fun volunteer recruitment ideas. Make your volunteer position seem light, fun and well worth it. Use casual language so that it doesn’t seem like volunteers are taking on a part-time job. Highlight the benefits to the volunteer. Remember, if you overwhelm or overload your volunteers you will lose them.