Engaging Volunteers

As I shared in my last blog post volunteers play a critical role in building capacity for a nonprofit organization and their time has a high value. How do we recruit and engage volunteers? Read on for 4 tips and suggestions.

2014 Butterfly Festival-2

1) There are many effective and low cost ways to recruit volunteers such as social media and e-mail campaigns. Share your volunteer opportunities through Twitter, Facebook, e-mail campaigns, and your web site. Signup Genius is a free tool for managing volunteer events with sign-up tools. Nonprofits may join organizations like HandsOn Jacksonville that will provide terrific tools for recruiting and communicating with volunteers. Internships can be listed online in places such as the job bank on the Nonprofit Center’s web site or the Idealist site. Don’t forget to share volunteer opportunities with your board members.

2) Clarify the role of the volunteer. Are you seeking interns for marketing and fundraising support? Are you looking for volunteers to help with a community project or work in the office when needed? Make sure that you know what your needs are, create a volunteer/intern position description (if this is an ongoing need) and ensure that staff members are ready to provide support and answer questions for those volunteers. A staff member(s) should serve as a liaison for any volunteer or volunteer project. Here are some suggestions for an intern description. I like these volunteer job descriptions provided by the Jacksonville Public Library.

3) Make sure that volunteers provide all of the necessary information and fill out the necessary forms. Some organizations “lose track” of their volunteers because they don’t have enough contact information or the appropriate form was not filled out. What does the volunteer like to do? Where can his or her skills be best utilized? Here is a sample of a form that I have used in the past. SAMPLE volunteer form

4) Provide the dates, times, and location(s) that the volunteer is needed and provide contact information for a staff member (the liaison) should that volunteer have any questions. Where do I need to be? Is there a rain date for this event? Who do I call if I’m running late? Volunteers are busy people and they will stop sharing their time and talent with your organization if you don’t provide the necessary information.

In my next post we’ll discuss ways to thank volunteers and keep them engaged. Thanks for reading!

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