Today the demand is very high for unpaid loyal labor for all non profits, regardless of their budget. Here is a list of some of the most effective things that I do to recruit and sustain volunteers:
- Post your opportunity or event with on-line groups such as the United Way, Volunteers.com, Craigslist.com, AARP, Facebook, Meetup, Points of Light etc.
- Make sure your group has an up to date website, Facebook page and active Twitter account to build your online presence.
- Whenever someone responds to you stating that they would like to help, respond to them ASAP and be sure to ask them to bring friends.
- Look for help through local church bulletins, community newspapers, with the Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus, VFW organizations, Girl and Boy Scouts and with local high schools and colleges.
- Ask your family, friends, neighbors and local schools for students (and their parents) who need service hours to help with your events.
- Make sure that your current volunteers really understand what your organization does, it’s successes, future plans, introduce them to staff and members of your group. Make sure you tell them often how important their service is and that you would love to have them come back work with you again.
- Give your volunteers a memento of their service day before they go home ie: a thank you card from your group, photo of what they accomplished, piece of candy and a note etc. You will spend very little money doing this and it will really make a positive impression and want people remember your organization.
- Recruit for upcoming needs at each event your organization leads. I find it especially helpful to alleviate the need for service workers for the less desirable events such as tag days or other types of fundraisers. Always have a contact sheet at your events to gather potential prospect information, interests, availability, prior experience etc.
- Assign your employees and long-term volunteers to befriend 3 new recruits and be open to answering questions for any volunteer who approaches them.
- Host a volunteer appreciation picnic or cocktail party to say thank you at least once a year. Ask for feedback about their volunteer opportunities and your events at this time. Take their comments seriously!
Lastly, be patient and persistent. It’s not easy to recruit and retain quality volunteers, but it is possible to do it.