Nonprofit Tips & Hints: Recruiting Volunteers

Last week’s National Volunteer Week celebrated the selflessness and hard work of citizens who offer their free time to a cause they truly care about. Nonprofit organizations run on the passions and community commitment of volunteers- the right volunteers. Establishing a long-standing and fulfilling relationship with your volunteers starts during the recruitment process. Below we offer tips and hints on recruiting the best volunteers for your agency.

Describe your agency’s impact and mission.  Inspire people with your cause and their ability to make a difference.  You want to attract volunteers who are impassioned and committed to your mission, and perhaps cultivate them as long term volunteers.

Refine your recruitment process.  Go directly to the places where you are most likely to find the most qualified and appropriate volunteers for your cause.  Know the specific role(s) you need to fill, and target your volunteers based on where they go to school, convene, or work.

Consider when you need volunteers and who is available at those times.  Do you need mid-week volunteers? Ask people in the restaurant industry.  Do you want to plant seedlings?  Reach out to stay at home parents who can volunteer with small children.

Contact your network.  If you are looking for a person with a certain expertise, reach out to your board, friends, colleagues, and those in your network.  You or they may already know the perfect person for the role.

Offer resume-building titles.  Young people or those in between jobs want to increase their hire-ability.  Appeal to them by taking their roles just as seriously as a for profit business would.

Be an online presence.  When a person becomes aware of your cause, they will certainly do more research before making first contact.  Take the time to create a website, or get a techy youth volunteer to do it!

Create an application and interview process.  Make sure potential volunteers are made aware that the volunteer role is desirable and that they will need to apply and interview.  Design a straightforward application incorporating all appropriate languages and inclusive phrasing.  Your organization will benefit by recruiting diverse volunteers.

During the interview process, make sure to explore why applicants want to volunteer with your organization.  Get to know them, and perhaps discover an even better service opportunity based on their experience and skills.

Follow up.  Even if you are not going to take on every applicant, make sure you follow up and honor the time they already gave you.  Also, you want to keep a log of potential volunteers and their skills set for any future roles that may open up.

This article was originally featured on the Give Back Tahoe Page in the April 22, 2015 issue of Sierra Sun.