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How to Recruit Volunteers and Build a Dream Team

volunteer group putting their hands together

Volunteers are key to the functions of successful nonprofit and community organizations. In fact, according to Volunteer Hub, 63 million Americans volunteer, averaging 50 hours per year at an estimated value of $28.54 per hour. That’s a huge resource to tap into. 

Volunteer recruitment is a crucial aspect of nonprofit and community organization management. It's the process that brings in the ideas, hours, and hands needed to support your mission. So, how do you create an effective team of people willing to devote their energy and time to the good of the group? Let’s dive into our top tips for volunteer recruitment. 

Tip 1: Be clear about your ask

When you plan out how to solicit volunteers, be concise and clear. Break tasks down into specifics and offer details in writing when possible. 

Essentially, how you ask for volunteers should be similar to setting a “SMART” goal

  • Specific – What exactly are you asking? 
  • Measurable – What will make their contribution a success? 
  • Attainable – Does the recruit have the skills, time, and resources to complete the job? 
  • Realistic – Is the commitment realistic considering all the recruit’s other responsibilities?
  • Time-bound – Include an end date for a specific gig or volunteer term.
group of volunteers at an orientation
Tip 2: Discover volunteer motivations

As you figure out how to ask for volunteers, ensure that part of the process is learning about individual motivations. During early discussions, listen and take some notes about new volunteers’ reasons for participating, their family and work situations, and their talents and interests.

People have different reasons for giving their time and effort, and knowing what’s behind a “yes” to your recruitment effort can help you make sure all needs are met (and your volunteers keep coming back). 

Tip 3: Identify your volunteer evangelists

Ask experienced volunteers to be part of the recruitment process for newbies. Sometimes, these team members can more easily “make a sale” than organizational leadership by sharing:

  • Specifics about different jobs, committees, or responsibilities
  • Enthusiasm and excitement about being part of the organization’s goals and success
  • Insights about hands-on volunteering efforts

nonprofit volunteer group working together

Tip 4: Leverage employee volunteer benefits

Did you know that 60% of US companies offer their employees paid volunteer time off (VTO)? The benefit typically ranges from one to five days (on top of other types of paid time off) and can sometimes be broken out into half-days or smaller segments. 

If you have major corporate hubs in your area, find out about their policy details and share these details with any employees you connect with. While this benefit is gaining popularity, not everyone keeps track of it.

Tip 5: Avoid burnout

It’s tempting to rely on a core group of dedicated volunteers, but be careful to avoid exhausting them. Factors that contribute to burnout include: 

  • Being asked to help multiple programs in a short time frame
  • Disorganized, ineffective fundraising experiences
  • Repetition of the same roles and activities season after season

Learn more: Identifying and Fighting Fundraising Fatigue

Tip 6: Mix it up

Keeping things fresh is another way to help ensure your volunteers don’t burn out. This might include:

  • Seeking out new ideas for fundraising events and incentives to keep volunteers engaged
  • Talking to volunteers about trying new roles 
  • Asking for feedback from volunteers about what works and what they’d like to see changed

volunteer group attending a meeting

Tip 7: Know your competition

How do your schedule and needs fit into other community, school, or sports organizations likely to cross paths with you in seeking volunteers? Consider whether you can time your recruitment efforts and staffing needs to reduce conflicts with: 

  • School year start, end, breaks, and fundraisers
  • Sports seasons with active booster needs
  • Established annual fundraising events in your community
Tip 8: Remember the benefits of your invitation

Volunteering is a win-win situation. In addition to bringing critical talent and person-hours to your organization, it offers social connections, leadership skills development, and a greater sense of purpose. 

Plus, research has shown that volunteerism:

  • Improves physical health and mood and lessens stress
  • Increases one’s chance of gaining employment by 27% 
  • Decreases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure by 40%

While you’re the one with a hat in hand asking for help, understanding how much volunteers benefit from their participation can help you confidently approach them. 

Tip 9: Promote passive fundraisers, like gift card fundraising

You may have elaborate fundraising events that delight your members. However, relying on passive fundraisers—simple, low-effort fundraising initiatives—throughout the year helps simplify volunteer coordination and keeps their commitments enjoyable and realistic. 

For instance, RaiseRight gift card fundraising allows families to earn dollars for your cause or program by purchasing and using gift cards for the goods and services already in their budgets. Families can earn up to 20% on purchases ranging from groceries to streaming subscriptions, with earnings flowing directly to your organization’s account. 

It’s also a fundraising method that requires minimal management, so you don’t have to ask for hours of volunteer help. Ready to try it out? 

Looking for additional ways to grow or fundraise for your organization? You can check out more posts on fundraising strategy or fundraising ideas

effortless year-round fundraising with RaiseRight