Ways To Recruit & Retain More Volunteers For Your Nonprofit

Volunteers are essential for nonprofits. In a sector where we usually have more work to do than we have staff to do it, volunteers boost our power, lighten the load, and exponentially increase our impact. Best of all, they do it because they believe in the cause and want to help.

Ways To Recruit & Retain More Volunteers For Your Nonprofit

Volunteer Skills

In order to begin the process of recruitment and eventual retention, the best thing for recruiters or human resource personnel to do is to outline the hard and soft skills they are seeking out. Depending on the role that is aimed to be filled by the volunteer, some skills and qualifications may or may not be emphasized. The following, however, is a list of the most sought after hard and soft skills by recruitment personnel and job boards alike.

Hard Skills: Typically quantifiable skills or qualifications

  • Communication Skills: Digital communication, copywriting (ads).
  • Data Dnalysis: Data mining, data presentation, resource management.
  • marketing: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Marketing Campaign Management, Google Analytics, Content Management Systems (CMS) i.e. WordPress
  • Design: User Interface (UI) Design, User Experience (UX) Design, Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), Digital Product Design Software.

Soft Skills: Tend to be more interpersonal and oriented towards managing the personalities of others. Soft skills hold a lot of weight in the employment world because they are often not skills that are easily taught.

  • Time Management: Prioritizing a number of tasks and being able to work on several projects at once.
  • Good Communication Skills: Both verbally articulate and a good listener
  • Positive Attitude: Volunteers need to be able to work with one another and should do so while maintaining good energy
  • Flexibility/Adaptability: Being open to new challenges and ideas.


The search for volunteers that fit within a nonprofits work culture can be a very challenging and rewarding process at the same time. This is especially true because more traditional forms of advertising volunteer positions are being abandoned for more tech savvy means of communication. But because the best strategies aim to gain from the largest possible pool of candidates, below are two of the most effective approaches to volunteer recruitment.

Direct (Warm Body) Recruitment

  • Distributing informative packages i.e. brochures, posters.
  • Speaking to groups: street teams willing to talk to passerby’s.
  • Word of mouth.
  • Campus recruitment is very helpful in acquiring large groups of student volunteers
  • Joint efforts with related student groups can help amplify the impact of this recruitment process.

Targeted (Concentric Circles) Recruitment: people who are in direct or indirect contact with your organization

  • You know what they say “birds of a feather flock together”, having preexisting volunteers tell their friends and family is crucial because you are sure to get likeminded individuals who work as hard as the ones currently in your company.
  • Also includes but is not limited to alumni members, neighbouring citizens, etc.
  • Professional association: in terms of hiring professional personnel or generally people with technical skills, there are many bridge organizations that can help fill this void.


The relationship between a nonprofit and its volunteers is similar in many ways, to that of the donor. In that, retention of a volunteer is always better than recruitment. This may even be more of the case with volunteers because they can become integral members of an organizations structure and for some positions are heavily depended on. In general, to ensure that the volunteer experience at your nonprofit is optimal, it is important to provide them with an experience they feel fulfilled by and learn from. That is why nonprofits should emphasis the skill-building component of their volunteer work and opportunities to network.

Affirmation and Appreciation: reaffirming a volunteer’s sense of purpose can be done by outlining how they are making a difference

  • Consistent reminders of the company’s appreciation is important to up keeping volunteer morale and guarantees that a volunteer will be more inclined to return.

Outlining The Demands of The Job: volunteers need to know what they should expect to be doing so that they have a clear idea of whether or not the job is a good fit

  • Added bonus is the provision of good training, to ensure volunteers feel they are capable of rising to the task at hand.</li
  • In addition to this, hours of commitment are more attractive when they are listed upfront.

Constant Communication: feedback is very important in the volunteer recruitment relationship.

  • Make sure to alleviate any barrier to understanding between applicant and recruiter by asking them what their goals are out of the position.
  • Make mention of the ‘perks’ of working with your company in order to edge out any other possible competitor
  • Respond to the goals they have set for themselves by emphasizing how your company meets those needs and more.
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