Volunteer Recruitment 101: Get Top Volunteers

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20 minute read

Volunteer recruitment is important for a social impact organization because volunteers are the lifeblood of our work. Without dedicated and passionate volunteers, we would struggle to achieve our mission and make a positive difference in the world. Volunteers provide the energy, enthusiasm, and expertise that are essential for carrying out our work and achieving our goals. In short, volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization, and we are incredibly grateful for their support.

Recruiting volunteers is a crucial part of my job. It can be a challenging process, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

One of the biggest challenges I face when recruiting volunteers is simply getting the word out about our organization and available opportunities. It’s not always easy to attract potential volunteers’ attention, especially when so many other organizations compete for their time and energy.

I’ve had to get creative with my outreach efforts to overcome this challenge. I’ve used a combination of traditional methods, such as posting flyers and running ads in local newspapers, as well as more modern approaches, like using social media and email marketing. I’ve also highlighted the benefits of volunteering with our organization, such as positively impacting the community and gaining valuable experience.

Another challenge with a volunteer program I often faced was finding volunteers who are truly committed to our cause. It’s not uncommon for people to sign up to volunteer only to flake out or not show up for their shifts. To overcome this problem, I’ve had to be more selective in who I recruit. I make sure to thoroughly screen potential volunteers and only choose those who seem truly passionate about our mission and willing to put in the time and effort to make a difference.

In addition to these challenges, there are always logistical hurdles to overcome when organizing volunteers. Scheduling can be difficult, especially when trying to coordinate the schedules of many different people. To overcome this, I use volunteer management software that allows volunteers to sign up for shifts and easily view their schedules. This has helped to streamline the process and make it easier for everyone involved.

Overall, recruiting volunteers for my organization can be a challenging process, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Using a combination of creative outreach efforts, careful screening, and effective management tools, I’ve successfully recruited a dedicated team of volunteers committed to positively impacting our community.

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Volunteer Recruitment 101

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First, let’s level set here with a few basic things to consider about volunteer recruitment:

What is volunteer recruitment?

Simply put, it’s the process of finding and attracting potential volunteers to your organization.

So why is volunteer recruitment so important? The success of our work as a social impact organization depends largely on the passion, skills, and expertise our volunteers bring to the table. Volunteers are essential for carrying out our mission and achieving our goals by providing the energy, enthusiasm, and know-how that are required for our work. Without volunteers, we simply wouldn’t be able to make the impact we strive for.

If you run events as part of your community organizing strategy, a successful volunteer organization can reduce your event overheads by a factor of ten. Overall, they help drastically reduce operating costs thanks to their free contributions.

What types of organizations recruit volunteers?

There are countless organizations of all sizes and missions that rely on volunteers to get things done. This includes community-based nonprofits, charities, schools, sports teams, community centers, religious organizations, and more.

Really any organization that uses a community organizing strategy can and should work with volunteers.

Can for-profit companies recruit volunteers?

Yes, absolutely! Many for-profit companies recruit volunteers to support community outreach projects or help out with charitable initiatives. In fact, some companies even offer volunteer matching services to connect people with community organizations and causes that align with their interests and values.

When should an organization recruit volunteers?

This depends on your organization’s needs and how much support you already have. Generally, it’s good to start recruiting volunteers as soon as you know you need help with community outreach or charitable initiatives. However, some organizations may benefit from having an organized volunteer recruitment strategy year-round so long as you have an ‘always on’ set of initiatives for those volunteers to work on. You don’t want to be short-staffed at a crucial moment or constantly scrambling to find new volunteers when your previous batch of recruits leaves.

Why do you need a volunteer recruitment strategy?

At the end of the day, a successful volunteer recruitment strategy is essential for any social impact organization that relies on community volunteers to achieve its mission. It can help you find and attract more high-quality volunteers committed to your cause, reduce operating costs, and streamline the process of managing volunteers. With careful planning, targeted outreach efforts, and the right management tools, you can find the perfect volunteers to help make a real difference in your community. So what are you waiting for? Start recruiting today!

Your Strategy for Recruiting Volunteers

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Before you get started with recruitment, you first need to get yourself organized. To do this, you should start by developing a clear and comprehensive volunteer recruitment strategy across six main areas. This will include identifying the specific goals and objectives of your organization’s community organizing efforts and any community needs that need to be addressed.

1. Set a few volunteer recruitment rules.

Although other nonprofits might have causes similar to yours, no two organizations are the same. The initiatives you undertake and the people you serve differ from every organization out there. Your specific needs require a set of guidelines that your team must follow, which is different from everyone else’s.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What tasks need to be completed? Think about your volunteer work. What community outreach initiatives do you need help with? How much involvement from volunteers is needed? Do they need to have specific skills or resources? Your answers to these questions will provide a framework for developing your volunteer recruitment strategy. This should include defining the roles and responsibilities of each team.
  2. How many volunteers will be needed? You must track how many volunteers you need to effectively manage community outreach. You should also have a rough timeline for the number and frequency of recruitment opportunities, so you can plan your volunteer recruitment efforts ahead of time and make sure that you are attracting the right people for your organization.
  3. Who will lead volunteer recruitment on your team? You will need to designate a key team member or employee responsible for organizing community outreach efforts, recruiting volunteers, and maintaining active volunteers. This could include someone from community outreach, volunteer management, events, marketing, digital communications, a volunteer coordinator, or your fundraising teams.

2. Determine your volunteer recruitment toolkit.

Once you have a clear sense of what community outreach goals and objectives your team has to achieve, it’s important to determine which tools and resources will be most effective in attracting and managing the right volunteers.

Specifically, you’ll need a few tools to:

  1. Keep tabs on your new volunteer prospects in the pipeline.
  2. Schedule appointments with interested volunteers to ensure they fit your organization well.
  3. Introduce new volunteers to the organization through asynchronous training and onboarding.
  4. Keep tabs on every volunteer’s progress.
  5. Utilize volunteers by carefully scheduling and assigning tasks and projects.
  6. Take the time to show your appreciation for volunteers and all they do by giving them rewards and recognition.

The WithOthers Community Organizing system manages all of this for you. We work with you to manage your pipeline of new prospective volunteers, schedule appointments to vet prospects, provide asynchronous training and onboarding for new volunteers, and assign clear event-related tasks and projects for them to work on. Lastly, all their activity is tracked and managed in the WithOthers platform, so you have a complete 360-degree view of everything happening in your community organizing network.

3. Identify the profile of your ideal volunteer recruit

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Your ideal volunteer profile will differ depending on the tasks you want them to do and what causes they’ll work towards, and it is a crucial part of your volunteer recruitment plan. Some community organizations may require people with specific skills or resources, so that’s something you’ll need to take into account as well.

Some factors to consider when identifying your ideal volunteer profile include the following:

  1. Their level of experience and expertise in community organizing. You may want to target experienced community organizers with a track record of successfully engaging community members, or you may be looking for community volunteers who are just starting out and eager to learn.
  2. The causes they’re most passionate about. Are there any specific community issues that your organization is working towards tackling? Or do you want someone who’s simply interested in volunteering because they believe in your organization’s mission as a whole?
  3. The time commitment that will be required. Do you want community volunteers who can commit a regular amount of time weekly or monthly? Or are you open to community volunteers with the occasional free afternoon or weekend? Volunteer programs that require a high minimum time commitment may be better suited to more experienced community organizers or community members who have more free time, such as students or retired people.
  4. Will they be able to work in the places you need them? For community volunteers who will be engaging community members directly, it’s important to ensure they can work in the places where your organization does its community organizing work.
  5. What is the profile of your existing volunteers? This may give you some insight into the community members who are most likely to be interested in your community organization.

The WithOthers Community Organizing system has clear profiles and best practices regarding who you should target as part of your volunteer recruitment process. We carefully vet community volunteers to ensure they have the right experience and skill levels. We work with you to identify community members who are passionate about your organization’s mission and the community issues it addresses. Our platform allows volunteers to easily set their geographic preferences so they do not get tasked with an area too far from them through our volunteer matching program. If you want to recruit community volunteers for your organization, we can help make the process successful and rewarding. Sign up today to start building your community organizing network!

4. Set a strategy to retain as well as recruit volunteers

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Retaining volunteers in an organization can be a challenging task, but there are several strategies that can help. Your volunteer recruitment is far less effective if it doesn’t result in active volunteers doing volunteer work. One of the most effective ways to retain volunteers is to ensure they feel valued and appreciated. This can be done by regularly thanking them for their time and efforts, giving them regular feedback on their performance, and involving them in decision-making processes whenever possible.

Another important strategy is to provide volunteers with opportunities for personal and professional growth. This can include offering training and development opportunities and providing them with challenging and rewarding tasks that allow them to learn new skills and build their resumes.

It is also crucial to communicate with volunteers regularly and keep them informed about the latest developments in the organization. This can be done through newsletters, email updates, and regular meetings or events. By staying in touch with volunteers and keeping them informed, organizations can foster a sense of community and make volunteers feel like they are a valued part of the team.

Additionally, organizations can retain volunteers by offering flexible scheduling options. Many volunteers have busy schedules, so offering flexible hours and the ability to choose when and how often they volunteer can make it easier for them to contribute to the organization.

Finally, organizations can retain more volunteers by offering rewards and incentives. This can include recognition for outstanding performance, special events or activities, and other perks such as discounted merchandise or free admission to events. Organizations can show appreciation and motivate volunteers to continue contributing to the organization by recognizing and rewarding volunteers.

The WithOthers Community Organizing system has built-in tools for rewarding and recognizing your volunteers with free VIP passes to other events in our impact ecosystem. You can also engage our sister production company SoundsGood Presents, to create large-scale concerts to reward and unite your volunteer community. By signing up today, you’re on your way to building a great network of community organizers!

5. Have all your materials ready!

Create “job descriptions” for opportunities when recruiting volunteers. This includes writing clear, concise descriptions of the tasks involved and outlining any desirable skills, experience, and time commitment expectations.

This description will help you whenever you’re advertising your opportunities and provide those interested with a clear understanding of the role and if they would be suitable. By regularly writing effective descriptions, fewer man-hours will be needed to go through registrants and find the appropriate roles since more qualified volunteers will sign up.

You can use these descriptions to promote your volunteer opportunities on social media sites, community bulletin boards, and other online platforms.

The same also applies to your training materials. Before starting new volunteers through your process, you must ensure that you have prepared all the training information they need to do their job well.

The WithOthers Community Organizing provides you with standard job descriptions and training materials to have everything you need on day one.

6. Always review and revisit how you’re doing and measure everything!

Reviewing the success of a volunteer recruitment strategy using metrics is an important step in ensuring that the strategy is effective. There are several metrics that organizations can use to evaluate the success of their volunteer recruitment efforts, including the number of volunteers recruited, the number of volunteers who complete their training and start volunteering, and the length of time volunteers remain with the organization.

Success Metric 1: Volunteer Recruitment

One of the most common metrics used to evaluate the success of a volunteer recruitment strategy is the number of volunteers recruited. This metric can be measured by tracking the number of applications received, the number of individuals who complete the application process, and the number of individuals who are accepted as volunteers. By tracking these numbers, organizations can determine whether their recruitment efforts are reaching the right audience and attracting enough volunteers to support their programs and activities.

Success Metric 2: Volunteer Onboarding

Another important metric is the number of volunteers who complete their training and start volunteering. This metric can be measured by tracking the number of volunteers who attend training sessions, complete required paperwork, and begin volunteering with the organization. By tracking this metric, organizations can determine whether their training programs are effective and whether volunteers are prepared to take on the tasks and responsibilities of volunteering.

Success Metric 3: Volunteer Retention

Finally, organizations can evaluate the success of their volunteer recruitment strategy by measuring the length of time volunteers remain with the organization. This metric can be measured by tracking the number of volunteers who complete a certain number of volunteer hours, the number of volunteers who renew their commitments to the organization, and the number of volunteers who leave the organization. By tracking these numbers, organizations can determine whether their retention efforts are effective and whether they can keep volunteers engaged and committed to the organization.

Overall, using metrics to review the success of a volunteer recruitment strategy is an important way for organizations to assess their efforts and make improvements as needed. By tracking key metrics, organizations can determine whether their recruitment efforts are effective and identify areas for improvement to ensure that they can recruit and retain the volunteers they need to support their programs and activities.

The WithOthers Community Organizing system offers clear and concise metrics reports that allow you to track your volunteer recruitment outcomes over time. You’ll also receive detailed insights and notifications if any metric falls below best practice standards. By signing up today, you will be one step closer to developing a great network of community organizers!

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11 Tactics to Recruit Top Volunteers for Your Organization

Now that you have set your volunteer recruitment strategy, it’s time to implement that plan and start recruiting top volunteers for your organization! Here are eleven tactics you can use to engage and recruit the best talent:

1. Leverage your existing networks and connections.

One of the most effective ways to recruit volunteers is to tap into your existing networks and connections. This could include reaching out to your current volunteers and asking them to spread the word, as well as contacting friends, family members, and colleagues interested in volunteering. You can share information about your organization and the opportunities available and ask if they know anyone who might be interested in getting involved.

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2. Use social media to promote your volunteer opportunities.

Organizations can use social media to promote their volunteer opportunities in several ways. One approach is to create a dedicated social media account for the organization and use it to regularly post updates about volunteer opportunities. This could include information about the specific tasks volunteers will be responsible for, the time commitment required, and any relevant details or requirements.

Another approach is to use social media to share success stories and photos from previous volunteer events. This will encourage volunteers and can help to create a sense of community and engagement among potential volunteers and may inspire others to get involved.

Organizations can also use social media to share information about the impact of volunteer efforts on the organization and the community it serves. This can help to highlight the value of volunteering and may encourage more people to get involved.

Overall, using social media to promote volunteer opportunities can be a powerful tool for organizations. By regularly posting updates, sharing success stories, and promoting the impact of volunteering, organizations can engage potential volunteers and increase participation in their volunteer programs.

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3. Partner with other organizations and businesses.

Another effective strategy for recruiting volunteers is to partner with other organizations and businesses that share your values and goals. Working together allows you to reach a wider audience and create mutually beneficial volunteer opportunities.

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4. Host volunteer events and open houses.

Hosting volunteer events and open houses is a great way to introduce potential volunteers to your organization and its work. These events can be informal and fun, allowing potential volunteers to learn more about your organization and how they can get involved.

If you work with WithOthers, events are completely baked into your volunteer recruiting strategy. Since the average order for an event is 2.3 tickets, every person getting tickets turns into two prospective volunteers. That impacts your ability to grow your community significantly and quickly.

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5. Use online tools and platforms to manage and recruit volunteers.

There are many online tools and platforms that can help you manage and recruit volunteers more effectively. These tools can create and post volunteer opportunities, track volunteer hours, and communicate with volunteers. Some useful online tools include WithOthers, VolunteerMatch, Idealist, and Catchafire.

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6. Through targeted marketing and advertising.

Another effective strategy for recruiting volunteers is to use targeted marketing and advertising strategies to reach your target audience. This might include placing ads on social media, community newspapers, or other online channels. You can also promote volunteer opportunities at community events or public places frequented by your target demographic.

WithOthers can run targeted media on your behalf, drawing on the data and insights of doing so for countless other partners. Find out more by just asking your WithOthers rep for a proposal.

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7. By making volunteering easy and accessible.

One of the biggest barriers to volunteer recruitment is that many feel like they don’t have the time or skills to make a meaningful contribution to an organization. To address this issue, you can try making volunteering as simple and convenient as possible by offering flexible shifts, training, and guidance to new volunteers and allowing people to get involved in various ways.

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8. Through community leader influencer partnerships.

In addition to collaborating with other nonprofit organizations, you can reach out to community leaders, community groups, and other organizations that share your mission or support the same cause. By forming partnerships with these groups, you can more easily recruit volunteers and reach a larger audience.

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9. Tap into the passion of your existing volunteers to recruit new ones.

To ensure a consistent flow of volunteers, reach out to existing volunteers and ask them to tell their friends and family about your organization. By utilizing the people who already support you and their word-of-mouth power, you can get more reliable help while also saving time on recruiting new individuals to your volunteer program. To keep people motivated to bring in new volunteers, tracking their progress and giving them recognition and rewards to successful recruiters is important.

10. Make sure your messaging is clear, consistent, and centered on your mission.

When it comes to recruiting volunteers, organizations should focus on maintaining a supporter- and mission-centric approach to their messaging. This means that the messaging should be centered around the organization’s supporters and their needs, as well as the organization’s mission and the impact that volunteering will have on achieving that mission.

One way to do this is to highlight how volunteering benefits the supporters. For example, organizations can emphasize the personal fulfillment and sense of accomplishment that volunteers can gain from contributing their time and skills to a cause they care about. This can help to make volunteering more appealing to potential volunteers and encourage them to get involved.

At the same time, organizations should also focus on the broader impact volunteering can have on the organization’s mission. This might include highlighting how volunteers can help advance the organization’s goals or sharing stories of how previous volunteers have made a difference. This can help to make the organization’s mission more tangible and motivate potential volunteers to get involved.

Overall, the key is to create a compelling and engaging narrative that speaks to both the personal benefits of volunteering and the impact that volunteers can have on the organization’s mission. By keeping their messaging supporter- and mission-centric, organizations can effectively recruit volunteers and engage them in their work.

11. Get feedback to continually improve your volunteer recruitment strategies.

Always be working to better understand what works and what doesn’t when recruiting volunteers, and make sure to continually adapt your strategies based on feedback from current and potential volunteers. This could involve creating surveys or focus groups, conducting interviews with volunteer leaders, or tracking the results of your volunteer recruitment efforts. By gathering this information and incorporating it into your strategy, you can continuously improve your volunteer recruitment efforts.


Recruiting volunteers is challenging but rewarding, and having the right strategy and partners in place is crucial to its success. Find out more about how you can partner with WithOthers to drive your volunteer recruitment and management strategy by booking a free demo and consultation here.

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