6 Steps for Recruiting Volunteers

Volunteers play a critical role in the operations of non-profit organizations and NGOs. For many organizations, volunteers can make the difference between successfully delivering services or program or falling short of their goals.

However, it is becoming more difficult to recruit volunteers. More people are expressing a lack of time are a reason they don’t volunteer. Additionally, more organizations are in the market for volunteers.

What kinds of things can your NGO/non-profit organization do to maximize your recruiting efforts? Here are six steps for recruiting volunteers.

1. Recruit

Write a job description and post on:

  • Volunteer Websites
  • Your organization’s website, or social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Include it in your regular newsletter, whether electronic or paper.
  • Ask current committee members to circulate the posting or suggest potential names.

2. Find out what attracts a new volunteer

What sorts of things motivate people to volunteer? Understanding their needs will help you better match them to the volunteer opportunities you have. Perhaps they have a:

  • need to network with peers
  • desire to better understand local markets
  • need to give back to the profession
  • wish to enhance their career
  • need for appreciation and recognition
  • need to belong

3. Select

Interview them like you would a prospective employee. The interview is an important component to the comprehensive volunteer screening process and allow both the organization and the potential volunteer to make informed decisions about participation.

The selection process should also include reference checks and any background checks that would be considered standard for the services your organization provides. E.g., a vulnerable sector check if you service vulnerable individuals.

4. Orient and train your volunteer

In order to be effective, volunteers need to receive adequate orientation and training. Orientation familiarizes volunteers with your organization’s policies and procedures and will help them to act in alignment with your organization’s mission and values. Training helps ensure that volunteers can perform their roles effectively and minimizes potential risks posed to themselves and others.

5. Manage

A volunteer’s schedule will look different from that of staff. Generally, they are giving of their spare time. Manage the expectations up-front. Create a schedule that is mutually beneficial to the organization and to the volunteer.

6. Recognize and reward

Volunteers are motivated by much the same things that motivate all of us:  praise, affiliation, accomplishment, power and influence. Remember to say thank you to your volunteers.  Say it often.  Say it publicly.  Say it with sincerity. And, hold formal events that recognize the hard work and contributions of your volunteers. Take time to focus on them.

There are challenges that make it difficult to recruit and retain the active volunteers needed to serve the community’s needs. But with determination, focus and strategy, volunteer-run organizations can find those individuals willing to influence their cause.