How to Attract the Right Volunteers – Part 1

Posted by Alexis Nadin on March 28th, 2011

On Wednesday, March 23rd, GlobalGiving hosted a training on volunteer recruitment, management and retention. Over the next several days, GlobalGiving will post blog posts about: 1) attracting volunteers, 2) managing volunteers, and 3) converting volunteers into long-term supporters. Listen to the training recording. Visit the training slides.

Project FOCUS: Art for Development in Uganda

Why should your organization love volunteers?

It is important not to develop a narrow view of volunteers. So often, we think of volunteers as individuals who do our office grunt work—stapling, stuffing envelopes, etc. But volunteers can be so much more! They can provide your organization with:

  • Professional and technical skills (marketing, business planning, web design, medical, etc.)
  • New perspectives (from a different country or educational background)
  • Long-term support and advocacy

Objectives of a great volunteer program:

  • Recruit capable volunteers that will challenge your organization to grow
  • Fill gaps that have been created by limited resources
  • Create a safe, friendly, and productive environment for volunteers
  • Build fruitful relationships

Identify and recruit your target audience

Take some time as an organization to assess your organizational needs. Identify what roles you would like volunteers to play and recruit volunteers accordingly. Are you looking for a professional with a background in communications? Or a college student studying non-profit management? Or even a seasoned doctor looking to volunteer overseas?

Think strategically about how you can reach your target audience. For example, college students look for opportunities to  intern and volunteer using their Career Center’s websites. Skilled professionals, on the other hand, might be encouraged by their employers to  use VolunteerMatch. Post your volunteer opportunity where your target audience will see it! Increase your reach by posting your opportunity on several websites, blogs, etc.

Catch volunteers’ attention with a great volunteer description!

Your volunteer opportunity should get people excited about your organization and the work that they will be doing. It should provide prospective volunteers with a clear description of the tasks that they will be completing at your organization. Here are some tips to make your volunteer description attractive:

  • Write a title that is attention grabbing and tells volunteers what they will be doing.
  • Be concise! VolunteerMatch recommends that you keep your listing to no more than 100 words.
  • Provide details about the volunteer’s tasks and responsibilities, dates, and location.
  • Don’t sugar coat the experience. Let volunteers know if they will be doing unsavory tasks.
  • Be honest, upfront, and explicit about qualifications.
  • Consider asking for specific application requirements, such as an application form, or a resume and cover letter. This will help to weed out less serious applicants.
  • Watch out for spelling and grammar! Volunteers are turned off by typos.
  • Only include one opportunity in your description. If you have several volunteer opportunities, submit several descriptions.

Post your volunteer opportunity on GlobalGiving!

Did you know that you can post a volunteer opportunity for your organization on GlobalGiving’s Get Involved site? In addition, GlobalGiving posts all volunteer opportunities submitted by its partner organizations on VolunteerMatch. To date, GlobalGiving’s partners have been matched with volunteers that have helped build websites, develop fundraising strategies, translate documents, provide social media support and more!

So, why consider posting volunteer opportunities on GlobalGiving? Because GlobalGiving has an audience that is looking to do good! We receive requests and emails frequently from donors and supporters that want to do more. We are also actively pursuing partnership that will provide volunteer support to our partners. For example, GlobalGiving works closely with Sites of Change, a student group from the University of British Columbia, that builds websites for our partners. This is just one example of the ways that we are promoting our partners’ volunteer opportunities.

Submit a volunteer opportunity through GlobalGiving.

Go viral with your volunteer description!

Let’s apply what we know about online fundraising to volunteer listings. It’s rarely enough to just post something online and hope that it generates interest. Take advantage of your organization’s Facebook page, Twitter, monthly newsletter, website, etc. to promote your volunteer opportunities. Share the volunteer opportunity with supporters. Use it to start a conversation!

Earlier this year, GlobalGiving posted a job description for our “Unmarketing Manager” (cached version) online. Not only was the job description interesting and fun to read, but we heavily promoted the opportunity on Facebook and Twitter. As a result, the opportunity “went viral.” Before we knew it, the opportunity was being passed around the web and consequently, we received an exciting and overwhelming response—applications via Youtube video, baked goods, and more! So what’s the moral of the story? Think creatively about ways that you can attract volunteers that care about your work and have the skills to fill gaps in  your organization!

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One Response to “How to Attract the Right Volunteers – Part 1”

  1. We value the work of volunteers. We would like to work with volunteers to support us raise more than US $ 7000 for our project on http://www.globalgiving.org#7764. The more we raise the higher commission our volunteers will get. Thank you so much for your support. Bishop Raymond Mutama – Project Leader.