The people that pin their names to your nonprofit are very important to the success of your organization. For many reasons, your volunteers can make or break the culture of your nonprofit. You’ve probably had those moments where you questioned an entire organization because of the attitude or quality of work of only one employee. One representative can truly make or break the stereotype of an entire business. Which is why volunteer recruiting is a fine art.
Recruiting—like all art forms—takes practice, the occasional mistake and work to excel. To hone your volunteer recruiting abilities, consider the following.
Recruit for Certain Skill Sets
Before you dive into the sea of eager potential volunteers, you need to self-evaluate. Sit down with your board and talk about the skill sets of the volunteers that you currently have. After evaluating what you have, it will be easy to spot the holes in your nonprofit.
Maybe you have a great team of volunteers who are creative, but don’t have anyone to market that creativity. Search for a volunteer who has a background in marketing. Or maybe you have volunteers who are great communicators who can write and market, but nobody who is numbers savvy. Target the potential new volunteer who has experience in finance or accounting. Just because someone is incredible at what they do doesn’t mean they are needed in your organization.
Simply, recruit for your needs.
Recruit Your Values
In order to have an effective culture within your organization, it’s absolutely imperative that your volunteers hold the same values as your nonprofit. By values, I don’t mean, “helping homeless people get back on their feet,” “promoting awareness and action to eliminate pollution” or anything resembling a mission statement.
If they are willing to volunteer for your nonprofit—duh—they believe in your mission statement. When I say “recruit your values,” I mean to recognize values such as dedication, fun, compassion, helpfulness, motivation, etc. However, before you can accurately “recruit your values,” you must clarify your top values. Avoid broad, original words and try to dig deep into the culture of your organization.
Finding and Retaining Volunteers
First of all, make your nonprofit visible online. Not only will having an effective website and social media strategy engage potential volunteers, but also enlisting in the many volunteer opportunity websites can help you to find the next best volunteer for your organization.
Also, contacting your current rockstar volunteers and letting them know that you’re on the prowl will put the bug in their ears that they should be talking up your nonprofit.
Along with making connections through your current volunteers, make sure that you are constantly recognizing your volunteers and rewarding them for their hard work—A: because they deserve it, B: because they are directly associated with your nonprofit and their opinion about your nonprofit matters, and C: they can lead to more connections for your nonprofit.
Volunteer recruiting should be designed and not left up to chance. Do your work so that they can do theirs.
What strategies do you use for volunteer recruiting?