Nontraditional Volunteers

In this episode for Season 3 Episode 2, we're talking about nontraditional volunteers! Many nonprofits struggle to recruit high quality volunteers and to retain them for longer than a year--but maybe it's because we're looking for volunteers in the wrong places. This week, hear from Sharie Loik at Meals on Wheels and Sabrina Schoenborn from The Girl Narrative about how they activate nontraditional volunteers at their organizations.

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Here is this week's checklist:

☑️ Define the most important characteristics of a potential volunteer.

When you start by thinking “Where can I find volunteers?” instead of “What qualities do I need in a volunteer?” you miss out on some of the most passionate advocates for your cause. For example, people with disabilities or special needs can sometimes make the best volunteers because they understand the “why” of volunteering best--they are willing to care for others because they know what it is like to need that type of care.

☑️ Network with organizations which are already using nontraditional volunteers.

The nonprofit sector is strongest when we all collaborate with one another. Find organizations which have a strong volunteer base, and ask them for advice on growing yours. Organizations which work frequently with particular populations often have an existing network you can tap into.

☑️ When trying to recruit volunteers from corporations, look at your current network first.

Where do your board members work? Do you or your board members have friends who are business owners or who work in executive level positions? Prioritize companies which put a lot of effort into employee retention, team building exercises, and community engagement.

☑️ Don’t miss out on marketing to the younger demographic.

These are your future volunteers, major donors, and board members. Go to schools and use your social media to hit the younger demographic.

☑️ Meet your future volunteers where they are.

Some of your volunteers may not be able to attend every event your organization hosts, but they may be able to sign a petition, view a webinar, or complete other remote volunteer activities. Figure out what your audience is passionate about and market accordingly.

☑️ Thank your volunteers in a way that is meaningful to them.

A handwritten card is not meaningful to every demographic, but teenagers love swag and social media shoutouts. Make sure all your volunteers know how appreciated they are on a level that is appropriate to them.

And if you need more help...

☑️ Email me and tell me what's going on at your nonprofit.

What are your current goals? What issues are you facing? Give me some background information, and we'll go from there! I never charge for an initial consultation, and I'll be honest if I can't help you. I'll also be happy to connect you with the other resources in my network who may be able to provide better advice or services for your situation.

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