Once you know the specific needs you have for volunteers, the search is on! Read on for a variety of methods for recruiting volunteers.
Ask: Find out who your current volunteers know and suggest in the community, and ask them to make the ask. Be sure to include specifically why you think the target volunteer would be a good fit (we aren’t just looking for warm bodies).
Be Present: (You or your representative). Civic Organizations, festivals, volunteer recruitment fairs and mixers are all great places to promote your opportunities.
Create the Good: http://www.createthegood.org/ is a site to advertise volunteer opportunities in your community.
Develop a Recruitment Team: Put your current volunteers to work to find more like-minded people. Give them a goal of how many to reach, and celebrate their accomplishments.
Engage all Forms of Media: Your opportunities through all media streams- print news, social media, email, newsletters, flyers, etc. Engage your volunteers in sharing the message through all streams as well. Make sure your messaging is consistent across all channels.
Focus on Parental Involvement: You already know some of your greatest potential volunteers- parents. Find out what they can give, and create targeted opportunities for them to contribute.
Give Thought to Corporate Volunteering: Many workplaces strongly encourage community volunteering. Hyatt hotels, Nationwide Insurance, Publix, Bank of American, and Allstate Insurance are just a few businesses who encourage volunteerism. Might be a great place to start your database of short-term volunteers (e.g. County Events judges?).
Host a Gathering: Or a shindig, or a kickoff, or a campaign. Invite local people who know people. The movers and the shakers and influencers in the community. Share the good work of your program, and where you desire to go. Charge attendees to find people they know who fit the bill, and make the ask for you.
Idealist: https://www.idealist.org/ includes a special section to advertise for volunteers.
Just Speak Their Language: Youth Development, trajectory to thrive, land-grant, most of the words we use every day in our organization mean NOTHING to a potential volunteer. Ask them if they want to help kids. If they want to make a difference. If they’d like to see their community improve. Determine their motivation.
Kinship Volunteers: Most people enjoy volunteering with their friends. Consider targeting existing groups- Running Club to assist at your 5K, Photography Club to run a photo clinic or sponsor a photography club, etc.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn has a segment of their site dedicated to nonprofits, which can be used to search for volunteers: https://nonprofit.linkedin.com/
Mini-Campaigns: Instead of casting a broad net, target your efforts to find the specific volunteers you determined you need to help your program grow.
Nice and Easy: Think about how you would choose to donate your valuable leisure time. Chances are you’d want to be around nice people (everyone a prospective volunteer encounters should be customer-service minded) and make onboarding, training, etc. easy as possible. Yes, we want quality control. But we also must be reasonable with our expectations.
Open to All: Our programs are, and so are our volunteer opportunities. Check out this resource for increasing the diversity of your volunteers: http://www.nonprofitinclusiveness.org/recruiting-and-retaining-divervse-base-volunteershelpers
Points of Light: A quick search of Gainesville opportunities at http://www.pointsoflight.org/ shows some great volunteer opportunities for Girl Scout Troop leaders.
Questionnaire: Develop (or find) a volunteer interest survey that can be handed out, dropped off, or found on your website. Engage your volunteer recruitment team in following up with those who are a match for current needs.
Recruitment of Broad-Based or Targeted Volunteers: The type of volunteers you are seeking will dictate some of your recruitment approach. Check out: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/broad_based_and_targeted_volunteer_recruitment_what_works for more information.
Skill Based Volunteers: Maybe you could benefit from someone with grant writing or marketing experience? Or perhaps they are a 4-H alum who grew up being active in livestock showing and wish to stay involved. Look for talented people and determine how they can advance your efforts.
Team up with your current volunteers: Chances are your current volunteers have people in their networks who might be prime candidates for volunteering. Work with your volunteers to create a list of individual, and then have volunteers make the ask to those they know.
University Volunteers: If you are lucky enough to have a school of higher learning in your community, use it! Engage with faculty (Colleges of Education often require student to earn volunteer hours), to find students who will intern or volunteer for your causes. No, they may not lead a club. But they might host a day camp, serve as a judge, or take over your social media account. It’s good for you and it’s good for their resume.
Volunteer Match: Probably the most famous of the volunteer matching sites on the web: https://www.volunteermatch.org/
Web: Make sure your web presence (including social media) is up-to-date. Potential volunteers will go looking for more information if they are interested.
X-tra Small Volunteer Gigs: Some people just want to donate their lunch hour. Check out: http://skillsforchange.com/ for microblogging opportunities.
Youth First, Volunteers Second: This defies traditional logic, but I’ve seen it work. Start something (e.g. a really cool project club), at the first meeting let parents know you are getting it started, but that you need to turn it over by meeting 2 or 3 to someone else, so you can focus on your other programs. If you get the kids hooked, parents will buy in, IF you make it simple enough.
Zealous Goal: People like to be a part of something big. World’s Largest Baby Shower, and World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, are just two projects which have used this to their advantage. What if we had the World’s Largest Science Experiment (4-H NYSD) of the World’s Largest Youth Led Community Service Day. Hook candidates with a day of fun, then find a continued place for them in your program.
What volunteer strategies have worked for you? Share your ideas and successes in the comment section!