Volunteers are the heart and soul of most non-profit organizations. There are many people who care about your cause and want to help, they just don't know how to get started. Volunteer recruitment is the art of engaging these people and making it easy for them to take action.


13 Volunteer Recruitment Strategies:


1. Have Clear Volunteer Job Descriptions and Times

There is no worse volunteering experience than showing up at an event and feeling totally unnecessary, or even in the way. This happens when volunteers aren't assigned clear jobs or trained properly. Be specific about what each job will be, even when you are recruiting. People will sign up when they know exactly what they are getting into, and they will have a better experience. Respect people's time by starting and ending on time and they will be much more likely to come back. For additional tips on this, read our article about how to write clear volunteer job descriptions.

2. Reach out to your Donors

People who have contributed to your organization financially will likely be willing to contribute their time as well. Don't hesitate to reach out to your donors! These are people who have shown that they want to help and want your organization to thrive!

3. Reach out to Past Volunteers

Like your donors, past volunteers have already shown that they believe in what you are doing and want to be a part of it. Even if they aren't able to commit right now, they might know someone else who can. 

4. Leverage Social Media

Your social network can be a goldmine for potential volunteers! Share frequent updates about what your organization has going on and what impacts you are making. This will build an engaged audience. When you ask for help with specific volunteer opportunities, they will be very responsive.




5. Generate Interest and Build a Database 

Use a form to collect potential volunteers' contact information and their areas of interest. Make this form accessible by linking/embedding it on your website and social pages. The key is to make this form short. Prospective volunteers are deterred when they need to spend time filling out a lot of information, or if they have to take the initiative to reach out and email someone. It should be as easy to sign up to volunteer as it is to check out on Amazon. Keep this in mind as you decide what questions to ask (and not to ask) on your form.

Pro-Tip: WhoCanBeThere creates simple interest forms for you, and will automatically build a database that is organized based on volunteers' interests. This database can be used for auto-recruiting



6. Follow up with People ASAP

Respond to prospective volunteers who fill out your interest form as soon as possible. People who have shown interest in volunteering typically want to start right away, or they quickly lose interest altogether. Send them a follow-up email within 24 hours with additional information and the next steps that they can take. 

Pro-Tip: WhoCanBeThere can automatically send a follow-up email to anyone who fills out your interest form. You can set the email's contents to have sign-up links for training days or other more detailed information. 

7. Directly Target your Ideal Volunteers

Who do you consider the perfect volunteer candidate for your organization? Think about what interests they have, where they live, and what their skills are. Now find and reach out to people like them. At best you will get a team of passionate volunteers, and at worst, you will hear "no thanks" a few times. 

8. Make your Volunteer Opportunities as Flexible as Possible

We are all so busy. The more flexible your opportunities are, the more people will be able to fit them into their schedules.

Some ways to increase flexibility for volunteers: 

  • Break long jobs down into shorter shifts
  • Allow recurring jobs like cleaning and organizing to be done on a variety of days and times
  • Consider if anything can be accomplished virtually

9. Don't Underestimate the Power of a Free Meal

Free food is an unmatched motivator, especially for students. If volunteers get free pizza while they work, don't forget to mention that in your recruiting efforts. You might be surprised by how many more people will find the time to help. 

Free Pizza

10. Make Volunteering with your Organization a Great Experience

If your volunteers have a great experience they will 1) continue to serve, and 2) tell their friends and family about it. Ensure that your volunteers feel helpful, appreciated, and part of a community. You can create this atmosphere by communicating clear expectations, sending thank you texts, and setting goals with your volunteers. 

11. Focus on Relationships

Your volunteers will stay committed if they feel like they are part of a community. Community is built out of relationships. Take steps to not only bond with your volunteers yourself, but also ensure that they bond with each other. One idea for this: meet a little earlier so you have time for a team-building activity

12. Encourage your Current Volunteers to Bring Their Family and Friends

Try asking your current volunteers to spread the word and recruit others. They are some of the best advocates for your organization. Having a positive shared experience with family and friends creates memories and repeat volunteers.

13. Promote an Ad on Facebook

Facebook runs pay-per-click (PPC) ads. This allows you to only pay for people who are genuinely interested and actually click on your ad. If you don't have a large audience to begin with, this could definitely be worth the investment. 

Tips to run an effective ad for volunteers:

  • Advertise locally to ensure you reach a relevant audience
  • Include your organization's mission & values 
  • Design the ad with your ideal volunteers specifically in mind
  • Define a measurable goal beforehand, i.e. how many volunteers/contacts do you want to collect through the ad?