Today's post is part of my blog series of sharing chapter four of my book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I hope you find reading the book over the next couple weeks to be enjoyable and beneficial to you as a leader.
Today's section is part one of two sections about recruiting volunteers. One of the things that is more difficult about leading a volunteer-based nonprofit program is that you have to learn to lead volunteers. With volunteers, you have very little leverage and need to be an excellent leader in order to recruit volunteers, and keep them.
In the post below (and the follow up post tomorrow) I will tell you about how to recruit volunteers as a leader.
This section focuses on recruiting large amounts of volunteers. Most of the tactics for finding co-leaders can also be used to find volunteers. But most of what I’ll share with you in this section is focused on recruiting a large amount of volunteers (five or more) for a specific event or element of your project. It’s not easy, but it can be done, and here’s how.
I’m fortunate to have worked in the Volunteer Center of United Way of Stanislaus County several years ago. So I know what it takes to recruit volunteers. As I told you in the section on how to Put Together a Leadership Team you should start with your family, close friends, and co-workers. Start by talking to them, sending them an email, calling them, or sending a text message. Find a way to communicate with them and ask them if they would like to volunteer and help.
You can also utilize a local Volunteer Center, Hands On Network, or local organization that helps to recruit volunteers. These are specific organizations that specialize in helping nonprofits recruit volunteers for their projects. At the Volunteer Center I worked at, we referred over 3,000 volunteers a year to over 200 different nonprofit organizations.
Two websites that are great resources for finding volunteers are www.VolunteerMatch.org and www.1800volunteer.org. These websites focus on helping local nonprofit organizations find volunteers in their community. All you have to do is create an account with a username and password, and then you can post your volunteer needs to the website. When potential volunteers are searching the website and find your volunteer need, they can contact you directly to help with your event.
You can contact your local radio stations that offer Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to tell their listeners about needs in the community. Your volunteer need may be something they can mention on air for you at no cost. Simply search for “Clear Channel Radio” in your community or research some of the local stations.
Most newspapers have a community events sections where they display fundraisers, awareness walks, school events, community theater plays, and other things that the public might be interested in. Two of our local newspapers have an email address that you send your event to, and they will publish a short clip of information in their Wednesday and Saturday editions of the newspaper. So check it out and see if you can submit your infomation to your local newspapers.
If you attend a church regularly then you might be able to have the church add information on your project to their newsletter, weekly email update, or Sunday bulletin. Or maybe they can even make an announcement to everyone in the congregation at a Sunday service! This might be a resource for you to explore if you have a great relationship with a church focused on meeting the needs of their local community.
Question: What are some methods you have used to recruit volunteers for a project you worked on?