How to Start Attracting Skilled Volunteers

A couple months ago, we shared 12 tips for engaging pro bono and skills-based volunteers (SBVs). These are positions where volunteers use professional skills — such as HR, IT development, marketing, etc. — to help nonprofits achieve their missions. Today, we’ll share tips for identifying, finding, and rewarding these precious volunteers.

In case you missed it, a few years ago, we gave nonprofits the option to tag volunteer opportunities with one or more skills on Our community has come a long way since. Today, about half of the volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch are tagged with one or more skills, and are therefore automatically shared to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace where 10 million professionals seek to use their skills for good.

It’s equally as important to employees from more than 100 companies we work with. And as more millennials enter the workforce — currently one-third of the workplace population — the demand for SBVs will only increase.

According to Mark Horoszowski, companies are seeing a transition from generations preferring a separation of work-life, to a millennials’ inclination in marrying the two. This translates into how millennials volunteer as well. More millennials want to leverage their skills for greater good, whether while at home or in the office. And 77% of millennial employees said they are more likely to volunteer if they can use their specific skills or expertise, according to Deloitte’s Impact Survey.

Have we peaked your interest? We hope so. Let’s get started.

Identifying Your Skilled Volunteer Persona

First off, if you’ve never posted a SBV opportunity on VolunteerMatch before, brainstorm the different ways a skilled volunteer might be able to help your mission. For inspiration, check out how other organizations are recruiting skilled volunteers on VolunteerMatch.

Here’s a shining example to help get you started:

Skilled HR Volunteer Post

You’ll need to identify the roles activities, responsibilities, requirements (i.e. skills), and any other information relevant to a prospective volunteer seeking this role. To help you identify this information, take a step back and make a list of the credentials needed for this role.

  • Will the volunteer be assisting your organization’s staff or clients?
  • What experience or prerequisites are needed to excel in this role?
  • Is this a short-term or long-term opportunity?
  • What are the desired outcomes?
  • How will those outcomes translate into tangible mission-driven impact?

By asking these questions, you’ll begin to formulate your volunteer persona — that is, an idea of the volunteer who would be most qualified to take on this role — and how their work can drive bottom-line impact. Your persona will help guide your position description so that you attract the qualified volunteers you’re looking for.

Unsure on how to craft mission-driven volunteer opportunities? You’re in luck! We’re hosting a free webinar on this topic. Learn more.

Posting Your Skilled Volunteer Opportunity

To make this process as seamless as possible, we recommend finalizing your list of SBV requirements, responsibilities, and activities before moving to this stage. Once you’re ready to post and tag your volunteer opportunity with a skill (or two), simply select at least one skill from the below field before posting.

When you post a SBV opportunity on VolunteerMatch, that opportunity has the potential to reach one million monthly visitors on our website. We’ll also mirror your opportunity to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace, where more than 10 million professionals on LinkedIn are waiting to connect with your organization. LinkedIn professionals can match their profile’s skills with the skills your organization seeks.

Are all SBV opportunities shown on LinkedIn? Yes! In fact, we share nearly 40,000 skilled volunteer opportunities to LinkedIn every month. Take this Marketing Manager opportunity at Silicon Valley Pet Project, for example. Here’s a screenshot of the opportunity on VolunteerMatch:

And here’s how that same opportunity appears on LinkedIn:

Pretty cool, right? What’s more is every VolunteerMatch volunteer opportunity is presented to more than three million employee volunteers from over 100 of the companies we work with — including Starbucks, Groupon, and JetBlue, to name a few — and from our seven corporate giving partners.

Bottom line: posting one skills-based volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch gives your skilled volunteer opportunity unprecedented reach.

Giving Is a Two-Way Street

Volunteers may feel compelled to give solely out of altruism, but oftentimes, skilled-based volunteers are looking to refine their professional skills (or learn a new one entirely) through their experience. Show volunteers you care about their personal and professional interests by offering something concrete to show for their efforts.

If a pro bono or SBV is currently looking for work, offer to connect them with companies in your community. Or, if they’re looking to grow within an existing company, offer to write a letter of recommendation to their supervisor, illustrating how they’ve exhibited leadership or diligence in their role. If they found your opportunity on LinkedIn, you might even consider writing one there. Invite them along to staff or community events to provide them with networking opportunities.

Have a tip to add? We’d love to hear it! Share it with our community of volunteer managers in the comments section below.

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