Having a strong group of volunteers can be extremely beneficial for your nonprofit’s advocacy campaign. Recruiting a group of passionate volunteers can lead to greater awareness of your nonprofit’s mission and they can inspire more individuals to lend their support to your cause.
To help you maximize the impact of your nonprofit’s volunteer recruitment efforts, this article will cover the following strategies:
- Create a plan.
- Segment your supporters.
- Create position descriptions.
- Use multiple communication channels.
- Partner with businesses.
The benefits a group of motivated volunteers provides your nonprofit include skill diversity, reduced costs, and social proof. Additionally, if your volunteers have a positive experience with your nonprofit, they’ll be more likely to discuss the experience with their networks, helping your nonprofit reach new individuals. This can be extremely helpful for your advocacy efforts, so let’s dive into volunteer recruitment strategies!
1. Create a plan.
Just as your nonprofit creates a strategic plan for your overall operations, you should also create a plan specifically for volunteer recruitment. Consider the following topics as you draft your plan:
- Roles volunteers need to fill.
- Where you will source these volunteers.
- Volunteer application process.
- Volunteer retention strategies.
As you create your plan, keep in mind how you want these volunteers to fit into your advocacy campaign operations. Do you need canvassers to collect interested individuals’ information or do you need volunteers to help run your advocacy events? Ask yourself what the gaps are in your current staff and what positions you need to be filled.
2. Segment your supporters.
Segmentation is the practice of grouping supporters, volunteers, and donors into groups with common interests or characteristics. For example, you might group supporters based on their age, location, or past involvement with your nonprofit. Kwala’s guide to donor communications explains that the goal of segmentation is to help your nonprofit create stronger relationships with constituents by sending personalized and targeted messages.
One helpful way you can segment supporters to find advocacy campaign volunteers is by identifying individuals who already participate in some form of community advocacy. Individuals who already take part in community advocacy are more likely to be receptive to your invitation to volunteer for your nonprofit’s advocacy campaign. And, community advocates tend to have strong listening, leadership, and communication skills, which would all be very valuable for your nonprofit’s advocacy efforts.
3. Create position descriptions.
To remain transparent with your supporters, you’ll want to write descriptions of your volunteer positions. This helps inform them about what exactly the position entails, allowing them to easily decide whether they want to fill that position. Include information such as:
- Details about your cause. Although most volunteers are probably aware of your nonprofit’s mission before they decide to volunteer, some individuals may not be as familiar. Spread awareness and be transparent about your mission to attract dedicated supporters.
- Tasks. Treat your volunteer position listings similarly to your job listings. State all tasks that the volunteers will need to perform as well as any potential accessibility issues. For example, if the position requires a lot of walking, you’ll want to note it so volunteers with mobility issues will know that the position is not the right fit for them.
- Necessary skills. If any positions for your advocacy campaigns require specialized skills, you’ll want to make a note of that. It’s also a good idea to state any general skills necessary for the role—for advocacy campaigns, you’ll probably be looking for volunteers who can skillfully communicate about your cause and convince others to support it.
- Commitment. Since volunteers are giving up their valuable time and effort, you’ll want to let them know how much of their time they can expect to spend on your campaign.
The goal of writing a position description is to help potential volunteers find a position that they would be happy in. For advocacy campaigns, this is especially important, as volunteers who have a positive experience with your nonprofit will be happier to champion your cause.
4. Use multiple communication channels.
When it comes time to spread the word about your open volunteer positions, you’ll want to use the communication channels that your supporters are most active on. These include:
- Your website.
- Phone call.
- Social media.
You might also use your nonprofit’s next event, such as a swim-a-thon fundraiser, to find potential volunteers. You can ask your existing event volunteers if they’d be interested in helping with your advocacy campaign, or you can make an appeal to other supporters.
5. Partner with businesses.
With corporate social responsibility on the rise as a way for businesses to set themselves apart from competitors, many corporations are willing to partner with nonprofits to help further their cause. A common form of business-nonprofit partnership is a volunteer program, where the business incentivizes its employees to volunteer at a specific nonprofit. The nonprofit gains volunteers to help further its cause, and the business benefits by increasing employee satisfaction and morale.
Leverage these opportunities by seeking out local businesses that may be interested in partnering with you. To form stronger partnerships, look for businesses that operate in a similar vertical. For example, if your nonprofit is a soup kitchen, you may try to partner with restaurants, whose staff is knowledgeable about cooking and serving food. Or, if you’re hosting a fun run event, you can partner with a sportswear company.
Keep in mind that volunteers are not your staff and that they are taking their valuable time and effort to help your advocacy campaign. Show your gratitude and appreciation to all your volunteers, no matter what they do, and emphasize the impact of the work they’re doing.
Also, when recruiting new volunteers, don’t get discouraged if people turn you down. Continue creating positive relationships with your existing volunteers, and they will be happy to advocate for your cause.