Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
4 Tips for Cultivating a Strong Volunteer Base

4 Tips for Cultivating a Strong Volunteer Base

Finding reliable, qualified nonprofit volunteers is just as important as finding competent employees. Volunteers power your organization’s ongoing projects, programs, and initiatives, providing the hands-on support your mission needs to succeed. 

That’s why you should approach the volunteer recruitment and selection process as if you’re conducting job interviews. Finding the right volunteers can bring your nonprofit benefits for years to come and provide the skilled support required to achieve your goals. 

Let’s dive into four tips you can use to cultivate a strong volunteer base during the recruitment and screening process: 

1. Expand your recruitment efforts

Identifying incredible volunteers who will help advance your nonprofit’s mission starts during the recruitment process. Your recruitment efforts should be far-reaching to ensure you aren’t accidentally overlooking any qualified individuals. 

To ensure a successful recruitment process, incorporate these strategies into your planning: 

Use a variety of communication platforms.

Potential volunteers can be found anywhere. That’s why it’s critical to use a variety of communication channels to get in touch during the recruitment process. Here are a few ways to connect with potential supporters on different platforms: 

  • Direct message potential volunteers on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
  • Use LinkedIn to search for and message potential volunteers who have specific professional skills you’re looking for. 
  • Promote open opportunities using Google Ads. Remember: you can earn $10,000 per month in free Google Ad spending through the Google Ad Grants program

You can also reach out to current volunteers and ask if they know anyone who would be interested in volunteering. The perfect volunteers are out there, so don’t give up hope in bringing new and talented individuals to your nonprofit’s team. 

Connect with different generations.

Qualified volunteers are present in all generations, from passionate Gen Z and Millennials to experienced Gen X and Baby Boomers. Use a variety of communication platforms and strategies to reach different generations. For example, Gen Z and Millennials are most likely to be active on social media platforms like Instagram, while older Gen X and Baby Boomers tend to use email to stay connected. 

Reach out to underrepresented groups.

Intentionally reach out to groups that have been historically underrepresented in your volunteer pool. Connect directly with individuals using your social media or email platforms to actively recruit a diverse volunteer pool. 

Use your donor database to discover potential volunteers. 

Your donor management system can be an invaluable tool throughout the volunteer recruitment process because you can connect with donors who may be interested in also becoming volunteers. 

Some donor management tools even allow you to track volunteers and donors in the same database. Using this feature, you can get in touch with past volunteers who may be interested in getting involved again. 

2. Include detailed role descriptions on your website

During the volunteer screening process, you’ll assess prospective volunteers to determine whether or not they’re a good fit for your organization. At the same time, they’ll be evaluating your nonprofit to decide if your opportunities match their interests and values. 

Highlighting detailed volunteer role descriptions on your website will help potential volunteers make an informed decision about whether or not they’re interested in and qualified for your positions. 

Your role descriptions should include: 

  • Role responsibilities
  • Qualifications
  • Number of hours they’re expected to volunteer or be available during
  • Benefits (free or discounted merchandise, access to exclusive events or early event sign-ups, etc.) 
  • Requirements to remain in the program

When your role descriptions are clear, detailed, and accurate, you can facilitate a more streamlined recruitment process. Those who aren’t interested in the role or qualified to fulfill it will likely avoid applying for the position, ensuring you only receive applications from viable prospective candidates. 

3. Ask illuminating interview questions

Volunteer interviews may not be necessary for every volunteer role at your organization. But you may want to hold interviews for specialized roles or ones that require a more significant time commitment. This helps you find the right people to fulfill these positions. 

As you plan your volunteer interviews, think carefully about the questions you want to ask. Here are a few questions that help you get to know prospective volunteers quickly: 

  • Have you worked in a similar role before? 
  • What strengths will you bring to this role?
  • What drew you to our organization’s mission?
  • Do you prefer working in a team or by yourself? 
  • What is your availability? 
  • How long do you envision yourself volunteering with us? 

Listen to candidates’ answers carefully to make sure they understand the requirements of the position and seem like the right fit for the job. 

4. Verify references and background checks

Volunteer interviews will give you a well-rounded view of each candidate. But to truly ensure you’re bringing the right people on board, conclude your volunteer screening process by reviewing candidates’ references and conducting background checks. 

Ask for reference letters for your top candidates and reach out to their references to get more insight into their experience and skills. Ask their referrers questions like: 

  • What is your relationship with this person? How long have you known them?
  • What were their responsibilities when working or volunteering with you?
  • What would you say their professional strengths and weaknesses are? 
  • Would you describe the candidate as reliable and trustworthy?
  • Would you not recommend this candidate for any reason? 

In addition, consider running background checks on prospective volunteers. This helps you ensure compliance with regulations and make informed onboarding decisions. 

Volunteers have the potential to bring a ton of value to your organization. In fact, the estimated value of a volunteer hour is $29.95

When you create an intentional, strategic process for recruiting and screening volunteers, you can cultivate a strong volunteer base that brings reliable support to your organization for years to come. 

Guest Post

Spark Hire is honored to host featured guest experts on our HR & Recruiting Blog. We're committed to bringing you the best tips and trends to streamline your hiring and recruiting processes. Thank you for your contributions and readership.