Top Tips for Recruiting Volunteers

Volunteers must be recruited just like people are for paid positions, meaning you will need to gain an understanding of your target candidates and how to reach them. Some of what you already do and think about recruiting will remain the same and some of it will be different. If you need help hiring the volunteers, using our free online recruitment systems can really help. Start your free trial of Recruiteze today.
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When and Why Volunteers Are Needed

You will probably start by wondering if it’s time to hire your first volunteers, or if you need more volunteers.

One important part of that decision is knowing what all you can do with volunteers.

Some volunteers will only be needed once in awhile some will be as nearly regular as your paid staff and stay with you for years. There is also a lot of in between area where people will volunteer for one project that lasts for a certain period of time, or return every week or month for a task. Some volunteers can work for you once and come back again later. There is an infinite amount of flexibility and the decision depends on what you need done.

Reasons you need volunteers

Your paid staff may be becoming overwhelmed. Sometimes you’ll want to be able to hire more paid staff, and sometimes volunteers would be a much more efficient solution. If paid staff are currently being burdened by tasks that aren’t essential to their jobs and those tasks could be easily completed by volunteers, it may make more sense to recruit volunteers than hire more staff.

You may simply not have the budget to pay additional staff. You’ve got work that must be completed regardless of budget, and volunteers can get the job done.

Adding in volunteers can give you the ability to diversify your team. A more diverse team brings new innovative ideas to your organization. You will also be able to be better reach more people as recipients may be better understood and feel more comfortable dealing with someone who shares certain things in common with them. A more diverse team also attracts more volunteers as people will be more easily drawn to an organization with people like them already on the team. When you need to hire paid or volunteer employees, using our online recruitment systems can save you time and money. Keep reading to learn more about Recruiteze.

Determining What Kind of Volunteers

Like with recruiting paid staff, it is important to determine your target candidate, so you can strategically go about attracting them. Unlike recruiting paid staff, money is not on the table, so you’ll be focusing on other benefits.

Start by determining what already works

Look at your current team:

  • How did they become part of your team?
  • What makes them interested in your cause?
  • What personality traits make members an excellent part of your team?
  • What skills make members an excellent part of your team?
  • What does your current team struggle with?
  • Who are they?
  • What are their lives like?

You may need different things from your volunteers depending on what you need them for.

When you need large numbers of people sheerly for the numbers of them, you pretty much only need someone to be interested enough to want to help. This may occur when you need flyers distributed or for people to spread your message via word of mouth.

Some tasks require some specific skills, abilities, or knowledge. You will need to be realistic about your needs, what you can expect without limiting your ability to find volunteers or running away interested volunteers, and what will actually work out well for the volunteer when they begin. For instance, a volunteer may have many useful skills and want to be a part of your organization, but may find cultural differences or accessibility issues hamper their success when they get there.

Compile your needs and information on volunteers likely to have those needs and create a target candidate profile just like one you’d use for recruiting paid staff. This will help you advertise effectively to the volunteers you need. Keep track of your talent by using an online system for recruiting.

Attracting the Volunteers

While you won’t be paying the volunteers, they will get benefit from the work they do for you. Sell it.

Volunteers benefit by volunteering by:

  • Charitable acts make us happier.
  • They have a deep passion for your cause.
  • They have experienced what the cause is fighting and want to prevent someone else from experiencing it or lessen their pain.
  • Someone they know suffers from what the cause is fighting.
  • It offers them a chance to do something more meaningful than they feel their current activities are.
  • It helps people be active and engaged in community when their options may be limited.
  • People gain useful work-related skills and experience volunteering.

You can use these benefits to determine how to describe your volunteering job to speak to and motivate your potential volunteers.

Use wording in your ads and discussions with potential volunteers to appeal to the sensibilities of your target audience. If they are likely to be younger, older, working folks, retired folks, women, mothers, men, a certain race or ethnicity, or have overcome a particular ordeal, write, illustrate, and speak with them in mind.

How to recruit

Online Recruitment SystemsYou can advertise in many ways:

  • Get current team members to ask people they know
  • Post on bulletin boards in your community
  • Post in relevant online groups
  • Contact people in interrelated businesses and organizations to see who they might recommend
  • Reach out to local and online publications

Consider people you are helping with your organization. Depending on your mission, sometimes people you are serving are benefited greatly by working for the organization.

Reach out to people who have worked or volunteered for you before, or people who have shown an interest in the past. Keeping track of these people gives you a quick and easy list to return to so finding volunteers is much quicker. If you’re going to be using many volunteers, online recruitment systems may be of great benefit for handling and finding volunteer information in an organized manner.

Selling the volunteer job

To increase an interested person’s commitment to your volunteer job, invite interested persons to meet staff, tour the building, and see what their job will be like. This will eliminate a sense of the unknown that might scare people off before their first day. It may also run some people away because they discover something that is incompatible with them but clearly if so, it’s best for both of you to learn that sooner. Also, it gives you an excellent opportunity to learn how to make your organization friendlier to different types of people or how to select who will be happiest there.

You might also solidify the arrangement with a welcome letter, a contract, or goals or tips for when they start. This will give them a sense of the importance of their work and your appreciation of their place in it, making them more motivated to go through with it.

When they say no

If a person flat out says they aren’t interested, then there isn’t any point in trying again, unless you for some reason later down the line have legitimate reason to think they changed their mind. If you continue to press this person, you may push them farther away. You could make them mad, make them feel disrespected, and give them a bad impression of your organization.

If someone is interested in your cause but can’t volunteer right now, you might try them again later. Make them feel welcome to reach out to you in the future. Periodically check in with them again, say every year.

A similar tactic may be useful for interested persons who aren’t able to do the volunteer job you currently need, but may be able to help with another in the future. For instance, they may not have the physical ability to volunteer many hours or perform a certain function, but they could be very helpful for handing out flyers or working for short periods.


Make it personal. Whether it is in the wording of an advertisement or notice or choosing how to reach out to people face-to-face, the extra impression people get of feeling needed because someone personally reached out to them will give them a sense of need and empowerment that will draw them in.

Try to offer many options. This will appeal to a wider group of people, make anyone interested in your cause feel they can help in some way, and give people a sense of control because they can select what they want to do.

Businesses and recruiters routinely attempt to master the methods of motivating people, and non-profit organizations can follow some of their tactics. Use emotional cues and positive associations with your organization, such as with testimonials, facts about your work, and cute or touching stories to make a positive anchor for your organization in potential volunteers’ minds.

Highlight the empowering aspects. Empowerment is big in business today and it’s particularly important for non-profit organizations and volunteering as the emotional benefits are largely responsible for why people volunteer. Use powerful wording to reach out to people. Create projects that motivate people to new heights, challenge people, highlight their skills, and speak to their emotions. Most importantly, invest interest in them and their efforts.

In keeping with the investing interest part, treat volunteers much like your paid staff. Train them. Pay attention to their successes and when they need guidance. Give them opportunities to grow. Include them in organization activities. Reward them.

Try to be as flexible with scheduling and work demands as is possible for your needs. The more you can do this, the more varied volunteers you can attract and retain.

Be mindful of potential barriers. People from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds may want to help your organization but find language barriers, cultural differences, or a lack of diversity off-putting or downright hindering. Accessibility may be a factor for many people who want to help and otherwise have skills and abilities you need. You might be able to make modifications over time to include these people or use the tactic above where you give volunteers many options, so they can find something they can do that you need.

Boost interest, familiarity with, and commitment to your organization with events that bring people into your organization or get a hands-on experience working with the people, animals, or things involved in your cause. Organize events where people in the community can get involved in a project. You can get to know potential volunteers, try them out, get people interested in your cause, and build familiarity with your organization that may make people more invested if you ask them to help. They may ask you for more work!


Online Recruitment SystemsStart volunteer recruiting by defining your target volunteer and reaching out to them in ways that speak to them. Then, build deeper relationships to keep volunteers, have them come back, and draw new volunteer interest to your organization in dynamic and more effective ways. Learn how to appeal to and make use of a wider group of people. All of these steps give you access to much more volunteer talent and make your organization better able to meet its goals.

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If your agency or HR team is currently evaluating free online recruitment systems, click here to start using Recruiteze for free! Our easy-to-use cloud-based recruitment software makes recruiting easy! Call us today to learn more.

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