Wondering how to recruit volunteers?

Volunteers are the lifeline of your nonprofit. It’s how people recognize your brand in the community or how you fill your pipeline of future donors and advocates.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a plethora of issues, with one of the side effects being the impact it had on volunteer recruitment and volunteer opportunities. As we enter a “post-pandemic” world, it’s time to rebuild your volunteer base.

So, let’s talk a little bit about how to recruit volunteers.

Some of the questions we are asked most often at Firespring include:

  • How do we attract more volunteers?
  • How do we make volunteering engaging again?
  • How do we get volunteers to keep coming back?

Frankly, there are tons of different directions and resources that will allow you to recruit volunteers, but here are three different ways to think about volunteering that can instill a bit of excitement and energy back into your volunteer program.

Diversify the number of volunteer opportunities.

When it comes to volunteering, you limit your organization if there is only one way for individuals to volunteer their time. Some organizations are structured this way, where delivering meals or volunteering at a homeless shelter represents the only way to get involved.

If you only have that one way, you’re ultimately restricted to the type of individuals who currently volunteer with you. And you’re tapped with the number of individuals that can come in if you don’t have enough time or opportunities to give them.

So, look at different ways that you could utilize volunteers to make an impact in your community and help spread awareness of your organization.

Look for creative opportunities to create engagement where people can engage with your community while representing your organization.

Create a platform for volunteer advocacy.

The second thing to implement is to make volunteering shareable. One of the most effective ways to recruit volunteers is peer-to-peer, especially given the effects of the pandemic.

If you can create a platform where your top volunteers are actively recruiting other individuals to your cause, that’s ultimately where you’re going to see a lot of success.

But they will not do this on their own. Yes, you might have a few individuals who go out of their way to recruit others. But, for this to scale, you need to ask them to do so utilizing shareable assets, such as a landing page, a palm card, T-shirts, stickers, etc. That makes it easier to go out and bring in new people. In fact, you can even add in a referral program that celebrates your top volunteer recruiters with a gift card to a local restaurant or with more branded swag!

Make sure that you’re in tune with what your top volunteers need and that you’re giving them materials to recruit more volunteers.

Make volunteering fun!

Volunteering should be fun. Make your opportunities enjoyable and something that individuals are excited about doing.

When someone volunteers for your organization, they are giving up arguably their most valuable asset: time. But too often, we act as if volunteering is just something to check off the list of things we need to complete. Remember that your volunteers are advocates for your organization. They’re devoted to your cause and to improving their community.

Make it seem like this is the coolest thing these individuals could do on their Saturday morning, on their Friday night, on their Wednesday lunch hour. Make it so powerful that they feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.

Give them your T-shirt, the hashtag to use on social media, the Facebook profile frame. Give your volunteers a club name, much like sports teams do for their top fans, rather than just calling them volunteers.

This is something that will create a little bit of excitement and palpable buzz.

This leads back to number two, as making volunteering more enjoyable will encourage your current volunteers to bring friends, family and co-workers into the fun.

As we enter into the second half of 2021, do your best to incorporate something new, something fun, something spicy into your volunteer efforts. If you do, your volunteer program will see a lift in 2022 and beyond.

Firespring’s team of nonprofit strategists love talking about how to recruit volunteers (after all, we’re all volunteers in our community too!). Sign up for our free, virtual 30-minute strategy session and we will dive into ways you can infuse energy into your program.


Let’s chat about volunteer recruitment