With all the complexities of organizing and running a successful nonprofit event, recruiting volunteers is one of the most important yet often overlooked aspects. Having a good number of dedicated volunteers is vital to ensure the success of your nonprofit event, and retaining these fantastic people can be just as important. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with the ultimate guide for recruiting and retaining volunteers for your nonprofits. We’ll discuss how to recruit volunteers, treat them at events, thank them appropriately, and keep them engaged with your organization. Let’s get started!
What are the specific tasks and needs that you have?
You’ll first want to consider the specific tasks and services you need. You’ll want to create a description of volunteer needs for your potential volunteers. Consider set-up tasks, clean-up tasks, and everything you’ll need in between.
You’ll want to ensure that you expect appropriate work from your volunteers, and the Department of Labor has information to confirm this. You can use Google Forms to have volunteers sign up for their preferred tasks. However, you might get an uneven number of volunteers for specific tasks. You might want to wait to assign tasks in person.
How will you reach out to volunteers?
Choosing communication streams is an essential part of your planning. You’ll need to share information on the event you’re trying to staff, how people can sign up, and the organization itself. You must also stay in touch with volunteers, send reminders, and thank them after the event.
An excellent place to start is with your own relevant social media pages. Encourage friends and family to share your posts and send press releases to local news stations and local influencers to share.
You should already have a unique email address for your organization; you should be using that to reach out to volunteers. Signing up for a mass texting system is an excellent option to keep your volunteer messages in one place.
Who are your target volunteers?
Google Forms are a great way to keep track of volunteer signups. There are also websites you can use to track volunteer signups and contacts. You’ll also need to determine how you want to keep in touch with your volunteers. Text and email are the most convenient and accessible for everyone to use.
Social media is a great way to reach out to volunteers. You’ll want to prepare a social media campaign. That might include paid ads or working with other organizations or volunteers to spread the word. A solid social media plan can help you gain volunteers and support for your organization.
Messaging is an integral part of this process. Consider the specific language you’ll use and the tone you want to present in your message. For example, you’ll want to emphasize service if recruiting volunteers for a church event. Maybe you’ll include a bible verse as well. If you’re trying to recruit parent volunteers for a school or club event, focus on their support for their children and community.
How do you thank volunteers?
After you recruit volunteers, you need to work hard to retain them. Showing gratitude to your volunteers is the best way to keep them active in your organization. Make sure to say thank you and show appreciation. There are several ways to do this:
- Set up automated emails to thank volunteers when they sign up.
- Write letters to individual volunteers thanking them for their work.
- Give volunteers refreshments, snacks, or meals before and after your event.
- Provide parking and any other special perks you can for the event itself. Having volunteers work in shifts so they can enjoy the festivities is a good start.
- Put together swag bags or goody bags with gear from sponsors.
- Provide gift cards, gift certificates, or tickets to events.
- Plan volunteer outings that are focused on having a good time.
- Use social media to thank volunteers for their exceptional work and dedication.
How often should I ask my volunteers to volunteer?
It’s essential to be consistent with planning events. Depending on the work, you might need volunteers weekly, monthly, or sporadically. This is especially important for organizations that provide free meals, clean up communities, work with hospitals or shelters, or do other community-based work.
If you have people dependent on your services, you must be consistent with providing these services. Your volunteer recruitment program should emphasize this dependency and clarify that people depend on your volunteers.
With that in mind, you must also remember the Department of Labor laws on volunteer service. Some of your volunteers will want to work every week, and others will sign up whenever possible. Please talk with your volunteers and work around their schedule as best as possible; you depend on them.
It can be difficult to recruit volunteers but don’t let the process discourage you. We also have several other blogs that might help you, like 6 Important Skills for Nonprofit Leaders. We also have blogs discussing how to plan fundraising events, and we have some event ideas if you’re unsure where to start.