Volunteers are the backbone of non-profit organizations. Without their passion and commitment to the cause, these organizations built on advocacy will cease to run as well and as smoothly as they should. This is why founders and directors need to constantly be on the lookout for people who believe in the purpose and ethos of their non-profits. Still, unfortunately, volunteers are not always readily available. Thankfully, there are plenty of practices and tools you can use to find the best volunteers for your non-profit. Here are some key pointers to get you started.
Get your volunteer recruitment process in order
A house in disorder will not achieve its goals and aspirations. If you’re going to invite people to be part of the work, you need to ensure that your organization is in order. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Come up with a clear job description (JD) for the volunteers. A lack of a proper JD is like asking would-be volunteers to sign a blank check; it’s like assuming they would be willing to do everything the organization asked. Boundaries are already breached before they even join the non-profit. Make sure the aspiring volunteers have the skills and the willingness to do their mandate as volunteers of your non-profit.
- Pave the way for a clear and helpful onboarding process. Provide them a handbook, give them enough time to train, and let them get a feel for the work that you do before you throw them into the metaphorical water.
Treat it like looking for a full-time worker
You need to consider what the volunteers will do, so knowing the who of who you need to invite or recruit and the what of their day-to-day operations will answer the how of your recruitment process. Once you’ve decided on the who, what, and how, don’t hesitate to explore all your recruitment options.
Whatever means you use to look for full-time employees, like online portals, social media platforms, or multiple job posting solutions or services, act as if you’re looking to fill a job position. Your target demographic will determine your recruitment process, as well: If you’re targeting Generation Z, go to Instagram. If you’re looking for baby boomers, Facebook might be your best option.
Draft a clear and engaging message
Do not underestimate the power of branding and excellent messaging for your non-profit organization. In a saturated digital world, your organization needs to find ways not just to get its message across but to get people’s attention in the first place. Does your organization have an easily recognizable aesthetic? How about your messaging? Do you have a tagline or a one-liner people can easily associate with you? Once you’ve created a level of brand awareness, you won’t have a hard time attracting people to your mission. Clear branding can also help you draft the most engaging recruitment message. Here are some tips for writing it:
- Make sure the recruitment message is compelling. Clearly explain your organization’s goals and why you need help from like-minded people who share your aspirations.
- Write a short, simple, and straightforward copy. The last thing you want is to turn off people with long drafts that no one will ever read.
- Point out how the volunteers will benefit from being part of your organization. Emphasize the skills, experience, and community they will acquire when they join your cause.
Set and manage expectations
Without proper boundaries, volunteer work can become toxic real quick. Remember that these volunteers join the organization because they believe in the cause and want to invest their time, energy, and resources in work. This is why as directors or founders, we need to be the first to protect the integrity of the organization and the cause by treating volunteers right. Keeping them happy and satisfied is key, and the first thing we need to do for that to happen is to communicate our expectations.
They need to know and understand their JD, their point of contact or supervisor should they run into any trouble, and how communication works in your organization. The onboarding process will also be key to setting and managing expectations. Being clear with them from the beginning increases the chances of them staying with your organization for a long time. Make sure you periodically have volunteer appreciation events, too.
Non-profit organizations do a lot of good in the world, but when done improperly, they can also cause a lot of harm. Make sure you are above reproach in all of your dealings, especially with acquiring and working with volunteers.