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Volunteer Recruitment Strategies: Take Your Fundraising to the Next Level

Mar 2024 - READ IN 4 MINUTES

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 2, 2021. It was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in March 2024.

We have all heard that peer-to-peer engagement is the most effective fundraising tool at our disposal, but many of us struggle to implement robust volunteer programs. GiveCampus can help. Below is a list of actionable volunteer recruitment strategies to help you identify potential volunteers and grow your advocacy network—whether you’re just getting started or looking to level up.

What is Volunteer Recruitment?

Volunteer recruitment is the process of engaging individuals to sign up to help with your cause and evaluating them to make sure they meet the necessary requirements. Volunteers are usually people who care enough about your school and your organization’s mission to give up their time and resources to help you meet your campaign goals.

Advocates are similar to volunteers: both dedicate their time to influence the public good, but advocates are generally well-known, carry clout in the community, and use that clout to publicly support and recommend your cause to others.

Both advocates and volunteers are essential to creating a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign for your school. Therefore, spending time and resources on advocate and volunteer recruitment will only enhance your campaigns.

How to Identify New Volunteers

If finding a league of rockstar volunteers and advocates seems like an impossible task, we have good news! There are plenty of places to look for champions—both on campus and off. Chances are you already have dozens of potential volunteers in your community eager to lend a hand and just waiting to be asked.

Find people who are already engaging

To aid in advocate and volunteer recruitment, begin by identifying the people who are regularly liking and sharing your social media posts, and the loyal alumni and parents who show up to every event. If your institution uses a pro-grade social media management tool, tap into its list of your most active followers. Even the folks who are regularly opening your emails are potential candidates–they’re already demonstrating that they want to feel connected to your institution.

Seek well-known community faces

Is there a faculty member that everyone on campus knows and loves? What about a veteran dining hall or grounds employee who has become a beloved fixture of the community over the years? Could you enlist someone to don your mascot’s costume and star in a short video promoting one of your initiatives? Would your Chancellor offer a Match? Faculty, staff, coaches, student leaders and athletes, and institutional leadership are all great resources for advocate and volunteer recruitment. Plus, donors will delight in seeing a familiar face on your campaign page!

Mine existing organized groups

Student organizations, athletics teams, alumni groups, boards, and parent-teacher associations already have a higher level of buy-in to your institution and are accustomed to mobilizing to support it. These groups are a gold mine when looking for advocate and volunteer recruitment. To reach these potential supporters, consider tailoring your approach towards the individual group. Keep in mind that recruiting advocates and volunteers is similar to finding donors, the individual wants to feel personally connected to your cause enough so to motivate them to participate.

Consider other community partnerships

Local schools are especially loved by the community around them. School support helps create and bolster a community. Even if an individual didn’t attend that school, often a neighbor or friend did which creates respect and love for the school. When considering advocate and volunteer recruitment, look outside parents and alumni to local community partners who engage with and support the school. Find creative ways to reach out and encourage them to contribute time, effort, and resources to your cause.

Ask your advocates to be advocates for advocates

Say that ten times fast! Encourage existing volunteers and advocates to nominate potential recruits from their social circles. Word of mouth can be a powerful mechanism in the fundraising space and building out your volunteer base is no exception. This is often the best form of advocate and volunteer recruitment, and can be a simple way to expand your pool of loyal supporters.

How to Set Up a Successful Volunteer Recruitment Process

Once you’ve identified potential new volunteers, it’s crucial to establish a streamlined recruitment process. The way you ask your community members to become volunteers and advocates should be as thoughtful as the strategy you use to identify them as great candidates. Make them feel like VIPs and be sure to show them how they are making a difference and the role they play in helping you achieve your philanthropic goals. Here’s how to set up a successful volunteer recruitment process:

1. Define your outreach strategy

Start by crafting a comprehensive outreach plan to connect with potential volunteers. Utilize various channels such as social media, email newsletters, community events, and partnerships with local organizations to reach a diverse pool of candidates.

2. Clarify time commitment expectations

Be transparent about the time commitment required for volunteering. Clearly outline the expected hours, frequency of participation, and any flexibility options available. This ensures that volunteers understand what’s expected of them from the outset.

3. Create an application form

You may choose to develop a detailed application form to collect essential information from prospective volunteers. Include questions about their motivations, availability, relevant experience, and specific skills they can contribute to your fundraising efforts. Don’t think of this application as a method for weeding people out, but rather a mechanism for getting a better sense of who a volunteer is and how they can best serve your community.

4. Assess skill sets

Evaluate the skill sets of potential volunteers to match them with suitable roles within your fundraising team. Consider both general skills such as communication and teamwork, as well as specific skills like graphic design, event planning, or data analysis that may be particularly valuable.

5. Offer in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities

You’ll want to provide a range of volunteer opportunities to accommodate different preferences and circumstances. You can offer both in-person and virtual roles to maximize participation and inclusivity, allowing volunteers to contribute based on their availability and location.

6. Appoint a volunteer coordinator

Depending on your resources and budget, you may choose to appoint a dedicated volunteer coordinator to oversee the recruitment process, lead the onboarding process, and manage volunteer activities. This individual will serve as the main point of contact for volunteers, providing guidance, support, and recognition to ensure a positive volunteering experience.

7. Foster a community of dedicated volunteers

Cultivate a sense of belonging and camaraderie among your volunteers by organizing regular meet-ups, training sessions, and appreciation events. Be sure to recognize their contributions publicly and celebrate milestones to foster a culture of dedication and loyalty within your volunteer community.

Drive Volunteer Retention with the Help of a Volunteer Management Solution

Once you’ve recruited the right volunteers, you’ll want to be sure you can keep them around. Part of a solid volunteer retention plan is creating effective systems for managing your volunteers and their workloads.

A volunteer management platform like GC Volunteer Management can help deliver a positive experience that saves both you and your volunteer’s time. This solution streamlines the new volunteer onboarding process with an easy-to-navigate volunteer dashboard where they can self-manage their own assignments. You can also easily bulk-send email and text messages to volunteers about volunteer opportunities from within the platform.

If you’d like to learn more about how GC Volunteer Management can help increase the impact of your volunteer program, consider scheduling a call with one of our fundraising experts.

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