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3 Ways to Recruit More Volunteers in 2015

If you’re like most nonprofits, you’re finishing up last year’s business and preparing for 2015. Part of your preparation, of course, is planning ways to recruit more volunteers.

But what if you didn’t reach your volunteer recruitment goals in 2014?

Well, don’t be discouraged, as the new year represents a fresh start for your organization. Here are three specific ways you can recruit more volunteers in 2015.

Be a Connector

One big reason people volunteer is to meet new people. Whether it’s to meet new friends, network for career purposes, or to find a new significant other, people volunteer to connect with others who share the same interests.

For example, at the beginning of volunteering events, introductions should always be first on the agenda. Volunteers should share their names, cities of residence, and something unusual about themselves.

This simple ice breaker creates value for all the participating volunteers. After all, it can be intimidating to meet new people (particularly if you’re an introvert).

What is the benefit for your organization? You are seen as a connector.

Encourage Volunteers to Share Their Experiences

Your best volunteers are naturally passionate about your nonprofit. This passion is an untapped marketing resource!

Tap this resource by making it easy for volunteers to share their experiences with friends.

Why should you do this? Here are two reasons:

  1. People feel even better about volunteering when they get to share their experiences. Sharing gives them a chance to relive their good deeds.
  2. People who volunteer for your organization have friends who might also be interested in volunteering. Sharing volunteer experiences is essentially free word-of-mouth advertising.

You can make it easier (and more compelling) for volunteers to share their experiences by taking these steps:

  1. Make your event “shareable.” –  Make sure you encourage volunteers to share pictures on social media while they’re working the food pantry, feeding the homeless, reading to the blind, or building a house. Make sure signage is posted wherever volunteering happens.
  2. Send follow-up emails to volunteers. Immediately after a volunteer completes a shift, make sure he or she receives a follow-up email that shows your appreciation. Volunteers may forward this type of communication to others, helping you recruit more volunteers.
  3. Be social. Listen for mentions of your organization and share, pin, and re-tweet volunteer stories.

Survey Volunteers

Surveys are one of the most powerful ways to improve the volunteer experience. It’s also one of the best ways to find out:

  1. Why do people volunteer for your organization?
  2. How did they hear about the opportunity? On social media? In email?
  3. How can you make the volunteering experience even more amazing?
  4. How likely are volunteers to recommend your organization to their friends?

The goal of your survey is to understand how your volunteers think. Use this information to increase volunteer loyalty and advocacy.

What’s Your Plan for 2015?

Chances are, you have some great ideas yourself. How are you planning to recruit more volunteers in 2015? Share your comments below. Happy 2015!

Headshot of John Haydon

About John Haydon

John Haydon advises nonprofits on marketing strategy and the effective use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other tools. He is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies, a regular contributor to Social Media Examiner and the Huffington Post, and an instructor for Charityhowto. Connect with John on Twitter at @JohnHaydon.

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