How to Find the Best Volunteers

August 8, 2019 by Verified First

Volunteers are a critical part of many nonprofit organizations. Without enough helping hands, services can’t be provided, missions can’t be achieved, and important social issues can’t be addressed. In this scenario, everybody loses.

According to research from Independent Sector, 63 million Americans volunteer about 8 billion hours of their time to improve and strengthen their communities. And with each volunteer hour being calculated at $25.43, there’s a whole lot of value to be had.

Recruiting and keeping volunteers isn’t easy, and it doesn’t always deliver the ROI your nonprofit is looking for. If you’re feeling frustrated by a lack of volunteers, here are a couple key things that can help you find enthusiastic volunteers.

Get your message right

Your organization most likely has spent hours on crafting and fine tuning your company mission statement, value proposition, and brand messaging. Perhaps you’ve even spent precious budget dollars bringing in an expert to help. Well now it’s time to touch base with your marketing guru to ensure you’re reflecting that messaging in your call-for-volunteers communication efforts.   

Many charities rely on donations to keep them running. Some have focused primarily on cultivating much needed donors and dollars. Unfortunately, this messaging may not be hitting the right buttons with potential volunteers. There are lots of people who would rather give money than time but if your nonprofit also needs volunteers, you’ll want to make sure you’re speaking their language as well. 

Is there a prominent volunteer page on your website? Take a close look at what it says and ask:

  •  Are you conveying your brand personality to give potential volunteers a glimpse into what your members are like? 
    • Goal: Be likeable so they want to work with your members.
  • Are you providing content that will allow potential volunteers to feel passionate about your mission? 
    • Goal: Elicit positive emotions among those considering joining your organization
  • Are you ‘painting the picture’ that gives potential volunteers a clear understanding of what they could be doing? 
    • Goal: They can visualize themselves helping out at your organization.
  • Are you including enough detail to ensure they have what they need to make a decision? To take action and quickly apply to your organization?
    • Goal: Get them to immediately apply to volunteer. 

 Include specific copy points on your website and/or other promotional materials:

  • Who the organization is, and it’s mission
  • How vital a role the organization plays in the community, and to achieving the cause
  • The volunteer roles available and what they entail
  • How these roles are critical to the mission
  • How volunteers are valued and appreciated 
  • Call to action: how to get answers to questions, and how to easily apply to volunteer 

Bottom line, make it easy for volunteers to ask questions, get details, see that good things are happening, and start the process of getting involved. Emphasize how vital, important, and appreciated volunteers are to your organization— and to the community.

 Ask for referrals

Why do your best volunteers consistently give you their time, energy, and passion? Because they believe so strongly in the work that you do! Why not let them be your best volunteer recruiting tool?

Research has shown that people are four times more likely to buy from a particular business when referred by a friend. It’s worth finding out if the same is true for your volunteers. 

Volunteers don’t always actively invite others to join in on the causes they support. They might assume their friends aren’t interested in the same things or that they are too busy to help. They may be intimidated to bring it up. Many times, it’s simply because it didn’t occur to them. Talk to your volunteers about bringing friends, family, or even their workplaces in on the fun. This doesn’t have to be a high pressure ask. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of planting that seed and watching it grow. In this scenario, everybody wins!

While messaging and referrals are key tactics for identifying the best volunteers, you'll also want to ensure that each of your volunteers undergoes a thorough background check. Volunteers are the face of your organization, which is why it's so critical to make sure you have the right people on your team. To learn more about background screening for nonprofits, click here.

Ready to cut your organization's background screening processing time by 67%? Learn how the nonprofit Oregon Museum of Science & Industry did it with Verified First!

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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