Finding the right volunteers

Volunteer recruitment is hard work. Targeting your message to the right audience can lead to success.

Volunteers are essential to the work of most nonprofits and finding the right people to serve can be difficult. There are many organizations competing for volunteers and people today are busy with what seems like less time available to volunteer. To make the best use of your recruitment time and resources, Michigan State University Extension recommends you target your message to people who are the most likely to be a good fit for the positions you are looking to fill.

The first step to targeted recruitment is identifying your audience. What skills and traits do your volunteers need to have when they walk in the door? You can build skills through volunteer training, but some qualities are either there or they aren’t. Do your volunteers need strong communication skills? Perhaps they need to enjoy spending time with children or the elderly? Do they need to have a specific educational background or life experiences? We often try to make a position work for anyone, but usually there is a certain type of person who is more likely to be successful in the position and find it rewarding. This is who you want to target.

Once you have narrowed down the characteristics of your target audience, you will want to brainstorm a list of places where you might find these people. Your target audience might include people associated with certain clubs or from specific professions. You might include college students in a specific area of study or a retiree group. The key is to recruit to people who already have the qualities you are looking for and who might be inclined to enjoy the work you have available.

When you are thoughtful about where you will seek volunteers, it makes it easier to make a connection with a group, as you want to connect personally. Instead of sending a form letter to every group you can think of, reach out personally to the groups at the top of your list. Make a phone call or stop by. Let them know why you think your organization is a good fit. You will not reach as many people this way, but you are much more likely to find success with those you do reach.

The next step in the process is to personalize your presentation. Check out the next article in this series for tips to strengthen your recruitment presentation.

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