Guest post by Kayla Matthews
Organizations that assist others and their communities rely on committed volunteers. Although that reality is constant from year-to-year, there are some trends you’re likely to see in 2018. And these trends have the potential to change what compels people to give their time to good causes.
First, we’ll look at three recent trends, then a few emerging ones.
- Retired People Giving Back to Fill Their Schedules
Research from Canada finds that regular volunteering reduces the risk of dementia and isolation in retired people. Older adults often discover they have more time in their lives to give to causes due to being out of the workforce. And a growing number agree that volunteering makes them feel more fulfilled. Therefore, this growing generation should be a part of your volunteer recruitment strategy, and inclusive volunteer opportunities could highlight benefits relevant to them.
- People Using Their Smartphones to Donate
The devastating natural disasters that afflicted many regions last year helped more do-gooders grow accustomed to sending text donations from their smartphones. Some religious organizations are even forgoing physical means of taking collections and asking parishioners to donate using a credit card instead.
To tap into this growing trend, provide your community with mobile-friendly links to learn about ways to volunteer after they donate. Sites such as Google’s URL Shortener and Bit.ly offer this service for free.
- An Increased Focus on Purposeful Volunteer Opportunities
In an effort to attract more millennials, more nonprofits are emphasizing how they offer ways to add purpose to people’s lives through volunteering. In contrast to older generations that see charitable causes as separate from their everyday lives, millennials often view the two as linked and want to live in ways that help them give back.
Purpose is a universal human need that’s not just limited to millennials, however. When your organization incorporates this mindset into your strategy, it’ll be easier to connect with potential candidates.
- More Modernized Recruiting Methods
Although some organizations in need of volunteers will still reach out to prospective volunteers via traditional methods — such as flyers on bulletin boards and radio interviews that mention how to get involved — there will be an ever-growing emphasis on social media marketing.
To get the most out of your VolunteerMatch opportunities, it’s a good idea to share your post on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. (Pro tip: If you tag your VolunteerMatch opportunity with at least one skill, it will automatically cross-post on LinkedIn’s volunteer marketplace.) Additionally, you can email your VolunteerMatch post directly to people whom you think would be suitable candidates.
Social media marketing will also be particularly helpful for video content. Videos posted to social media are especially useful for attracting young people to volunteer roles because younger generations watch videos regularly, especially on Facebook and other platforms that offer live-streaming content.
However, as Facebook moves to de-emphasize brand content in its users’ news feeds, it’s likely going to take a mix of marketing strategies to get your opportunities noticed. Social media will be helpful, certainly. But don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
As video becomes a more popular means of advertising in 2018, it’s worth noting that a volunteer-centric video could be just what your organizations needs.
Your video could describe the conditions vulnerable population groups struggle with daily, then transition into showcasing how volunteers can alleviate those burdens. It’s difficult to convey those things on paper, but bite-sized videos visually draw people in and help them better empathize with your content. You don’t have to hire an entire film crew either.
Today’s smartphones have HD cameras and are capable of creating high-quality footage. All you need to get started creating video content is the phone in your pocket!
Sustainability is another reason why nonprofits should consider altering their recruiting appeals this year. We live in an era where a substantial percentage of people care about sustainability. A Unilever study found that a third of respondents choose the brands they buy based on their social and environmental impacts.
Volunteer coordinators can and should take that sustainable mindset into account by investing in reusable recruitment and engagement tools.
- Virtual Reality Used as a Volunteer Training Tool
Australian government official Craig Crawford is looking at ways to harness virtual reality to give volunteers the training they need without being overly disruptive to their schedules. He sees virtual reality as a particularly good fit for voluntary roles based in emergency services. You might find that VR headsets allow you to conduct training in realistic and engaging ways while keeping costs low.
- An Upswing in Virtual Volunteering
A lack of time is a major factor that can convince people volunteering isn’t a feasible activity until events calm down in their lives. Others might be willing to give back now but find it difficult to do so because they don’t have reliable transportation or they take care of young kids.
That’s why your organization should investigate ways to let volunteers assist your establishment from their homes. During Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, volunteers could sign up to conduct virtual phone banking. More recently, the United Nations spread the word about its virtual volunteering offerings at a sustainable ideas festival. And VolunteerMatch has an entire section on its site dedicated to the nearly 7,000 virtual opportunities they serve.
Volunteering online allows people to make a meaningful impact without encountering some of the common obstacles that can ultimately convince individuals to delay their intentions to get involved. It also helps them ease into volunteering and learn about its benefits.
By keeping these trends in mind this year, you should find it easier to reach out to new volunteers in ways that make sense for them, plus keep the volunteers you already have feeling happy and eager to continue contributing. Staying abreast of trends as they progress is an effective way to cater to your audience and show you’re in touch with current needs and lifestyles.
Here’s to an amazing year!