Guest post by Kayla Matthews
Trying to recruit volunteers with specific skills can be tricky. It’s easy to get people to apply, but hard to get them to stay and show up when they agree to. This gets even more difficult when you’re looking for help with a position that a person would usually be paid for.
Here are five things you need to know when it comes to recruiting volunteers with specialized skills.
- Be Specific
Don’t try and recruit a broad base to narrow down later. If you’re looking for someone with a specific skillset, you won’t save yourself time or resources by wading through a crowd. If you want someone who can help balance your books, mention that you want someone who is experienced with bookkeeping.
You should also make your expectations clear. Explain how long you want the assignment to last, what requirements are needed, and what the process will be for getting the position. Many people assume that by simply responding to a volunteer application, they’ll get the job. Make it clear from the start that there will be an application process.
- Ask for Corporate Help
If the volunteers you’re interested in work for corporations, you may be able to enlist that company’s help. Promoting nonprofit work is great PR for any organization, and they may be able to find some tax write-offs for these charitable contributions. Encouraging employees to volunteer is a catalyst for skill-building and bonding, which could be great for newly formed teams (or teams that want to strengthen their relationships).
This can be tricky for a nonprofit to maneuver, however. You have to be very clear in terms of what you’re looking for, or you’ll end up wasting resources. Explaining your expectations right off the bat can be very helpful in preventing a mismatched relationship.
- Use Job Titles (Even for Temporary Volunteer Positions)
Part of being specific with your requirements includes giving a title to the work you’re looking to have done. Not only can this help volunteers understand what will be required of them, but it will also give them something to list on their resumes. This simple perk can incentivize more skilled professionals to volunteer their time to your nonprofit because it will allow them to boost their professional image while helping others in return (a true win-win).
Rather than listing all position titles as “Volunteer”, specifically list the kind of position you’re looking to fill. Clarify that you’re looking for a “Tax Preparer” or a “Literacy Tutor”. Just be sure that your job description clearly states that the position isn’t paid.
- Tap the Right Market
Finding skilled volunteers requires a bit more strategy than filling other volunteer positions. Instead of tapping recent high school and college graduates, focus on the corporate sector who likely have professionals who can apply their experiences to fill your nonprofit’s needs.
You can also look for people who no longer hold skilled positions, but have years of relevant experience. Many baby boomers are in or coming close to retirement age. They’ll be leaving jobs and may be looking for hobbies they can feel good about doing.
For example, Generation to Generation — a campaign which aims to bring adults 50+ and younger people together to make life better for all generations — recruits older volunteers through their website. And by posting an opportunity on VolunteerMatch, it’ll be automatically mirrored on GenerationtoGeneration.org. If you’re willing to reach out to older volunteers, you might be surprised by how many want to help your cause.
- Leverage Social Media
Social media is huge, and its impact is only widening. If you manage to interest someone in person, they will proceed to check your presence out online. If they can find you on Google, they should also be able to find you on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Recently, VolunteerMatch partnered with LinkedIn to make volunteer opportunities available on LinkedIn. This means that, by posting an opportunity on VolunteerMatch, those looking to volunteer through LinkedIn will also find it there.
In short, not only can you rely on the internet to provide information about your nonprofit but the Web will also help you recruit the volunteers you want. Posting updates about positions you’d like filled is an excellent way to reach a wider audience, and you’ll get the volunteers you want by following the rest of the tips in this blog post.
Skilled volunteers may be more difficult to find, but in the end, are worth it. If you need expert help, ask for it, and don’t settle for anything less.