Building a Volunteer Program: 4 Tips for Recruiting Volunteers

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Across the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, recruiting trends  reveal that candidates are looking for engaging, flexible, and personalized opportunities to make a difference, whether at their jobs or during volunteer activities. Most notably, recruits seek opportunities that allow them to use their unique skills and passions to improve society. 

As you build your volunteer program from the ground up or expand your existing program, you’ll need concrete strategies to grow your volunteer base. To help you offer the engaging opportunities prospective volunteers are looking for and grow your program, we’ll review these four tips: 

  1. Invite current supporters to get involved.
  2. Offer enticing volunteer opportunities.
  3. Make registration simple and accessible.
  4. Track volunteer data in a centralized database.

Connecting with passionate volunteers can give your nonprofit the ongoing support to push its mission forward. These tips will help you recruit the right volunteers and build long-lasting relationships that benefit your nonprofit for years to come. 

1. Invite Current Supporters to Get Involved

Whether you’re recruiting volunteers for the first time or looking to expand your current base, start by reaching out to your existing audience. For example, your nonprofit likely already has strong relationships with individuals like: 

  • Donors. From casual one-time donors to major donors, donors can be potential volunteers at all levels. These individuals have already expressed support for your mission and may be looking for hands-on ways to get involved. 
  • Board members. Your nonprofit’s board members make important decisions about your organization’s strategy, budget, and more. Volunteering can give them a first-hand look at how their decisions impact your organization. 
  • Corporate partners. Corporate philanthropy is becoming more popular for all types of businesses. Your corporate donors and sponsors can enhance their corporate social responsibility programs by participating in volunteer activities. 

Once you have a few volunteers on board, you can also ask them to promote your open roles using word-of-mouth advertising. In addition, offer incentives for volunteers to bring a friend or family member to a volunteer event, such as free merchandise or a gift card. 

2. Offer Enticing Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers want to know that their support makes a real difference in your mission, but they also want to be engaged in their work. For example, stapling packets and reorganizing your office space might be critical activities for your cause. Still, volunteers may not be that interested if those are your only activities. 

Instead, offer a variety of exciting volunteer opportunities, such as: 

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns  and events. Invite volunteers to participate as fundraisers or help manage peer-to-peer fundraising events, such as your walk-a-thon or dance-a-thon. Offer a free t-shirt and refreshments to incentivize participation. 
  • Ambassador  or influencer opportunities. Some of your volunteers may be highly active on social media or influential leaders in their community. Recruit these individuals to be ambassadors or influencers for your cause. Ask them to speak about your mission in an Instagram video or share a quick presentation at a local event. 
  • Social or networking opportunities. Make your volunteer events equal parts productive and fun by adding a social element. Plan an icebreaker activity at the beginning of each event and allow volunteers to work in teams to get to know each other. 

Send surveys to your current or prospective volunteers to gather feedback about what types of volunteer activities they’re most interested in. And remember, you can always turn a straightforward, monotonous activity into a more exciting one with a few simple changes, like playing upbeat music or turning each activity into a game. 

3. Make Registration Simple and Accessible

A straightforward, convenient registration process ensures that volunteers can apply with ease. Make your volunteer website , social media content, and registration process simple and inviting by following these steps: 

  • Promote your volunteer opportunities on social media platforms (like Facebook and Instagram), so they’re easy to find.
  • Write clear role descriptions on your website, so new volunteers know what to expect. 
  • Offer an easy-to-use registration form on your website. Only ask for need-to-know information, like volunteers’ contact information, emergency contact information, role preferences and skills, and availability.

Your volunteer opportunities themselves should be easy to participate in as well. For example, consider offering virtual volunteer opportunities or micro-volunteer opportunities that only last an hour or so to appeal to volunteers with busy schedules. 

4. Track Volunteer Data in a Centralized Database

A centralized database can help you track volunteer information to personalize your outreach. Plus, when you use a robust donor management system , you can track volunteer and donor information in the same platform, keeping all supporter data organized and easily accessible. 

Use your supporter database to track information such as:

  • Volunteer engagement history
  • Donation history
  • Special skills or interests
  • Communication preferences
  • Volunteer grant or matching gift eligibility

Reference this data when creating outreach materials for new volunteers. For example, you can thank volunteers for their support at a local farmers market event or ask if they’d be willing to reach out to their employer to get their recent donation matched. 

The more you know about your volunteers, the easier it will be to develop genuine relationships with them. 

As you develop your volunteer recruitment strategy, remember that potential volunteers can be found anywhere. Expand your recruitment strategy to multiple channels, such as social media, email, word-of-mouth marketing, and flyers. Promote your enticing volunteer activities and simple registration form using links and QR codes. 

With these strategies, you can build a volunteer program that engages supporters and propels your mission forward.  If you need more help with finding recruiters, contact us today.


Jay Love is the Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer atBloomerang.

By Jay Love