Looking for Love in the Right Places: Bringing Romance into Volunteering

Video: Find Your Passion at VolunteerMatchAt VolunteerMatch we’re urging everyone to use the romantic nature of Valentine’s Day to find their passion for giving back. Valentine’s Day is a great time for nonprofits to tap into the passions of your community to recruit volunteers.

How can your organization get in on the love now and harness that energy to engage volunteers? Here are two strategies:

1. Encourage singles to volunteer and connect with others.

The singles market is a demographic you should strongly take into consideration. Single Volunteers Inc., for example, specifically targets single volunteers. Single volunteers often have more time on their hands to volunteer and single volunteers often make up a big difference in community building.

The singles market is also more racially diverse and more likely flexible in terms of their time. This is particularly true of young, single professionals since they are not as bound to the obligations of partner or family.

Here’s how you can keep singles in mind when recruiting volunteers:

  • Volunteers who work at the same organizations tend to have a similar set of interests. So in your recruiting materials and messaging, emphasize not only how the volunteer will serve the community, but also the connections the volunteer will make with fellow volunteers. (For an animal shelter: “Make connections with furry friends and fellow animal lovers at [insert organization here].”)
  • In the end, when recruiting singles, don’t think of your organization as the eHarmony of nonprofits. Ultimately, think of your organization as the portal through which individuals can get together and connect. When singles volunteer, it’s not because they’re looking for a partner – maybe they just want to make friends. Respect that decision and keep in mind all the reasons why a single person might volunteer for your organization.
  • But if a couple of volunteers do pair up and find the loves of their lives – that certainly gives you some great press.

2. Encouraging couples to volunteer together.

Another demographic to strongly consider recruiting is couples. Many couples see Valentine’s Day as a day to spend quality time together, and more adventurous couples may forego the traditional dinner-date and want to get their hands dirty volunteering instead.

Couples who volunteer have more opportunities to strengthen and enhance their marriage by not only helping others, but connecting with each other. Take a look at a video about a couple that volunteers for the Red Cross:

During the Valentine’s Day season, making an extra recruitment push towards couples and advertising such opportunities as “alternative Valentine’s Day dates,” might get you a few more volunteers during that second week of February and beyond.

Take a look at these tips and don’t just work them into your recruiting strategies around Valentine’s Day, but also year round (after all, love exists beyond February 14):

  • Look at news articles that encourage couples to volunteer for Valentine’s Day and see if you can provide similar opportunities.
  • List an opportunity as couples-friendly, especially when it comes to volunteer opportunities such as mentoring youth.
  • If your opportunity is a group opportunity (such as cooking for a shelter), encourage couples to recruit other couples in order to meet the group quota.
  • Be inclusive of all types of couples, married or unmarried. Instead of using “husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend,” use the more inclusive word “partner.” Members of the LGBT community often harbor a strong sense of loyalty towards inclusive institutions, and if you are respectful of a non-heterosexual couple, they’ll be more likely to continue volunteering for your organization, and might even bring friends the next time around.

Cristopher Bautista is an intern at VolunteerMatch. Email him at cbautista@volunteermatch.org

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