Who says Friday the 13th has to be spooky and full of bad luck? In fact, the day can be amazing when you use it to drive volunteers to your site or educate them about your services.
Volunteering is just as American as football or apple pie, but even the best nonprofits can consider gathering volunteers a scary experience. Paperwork. Background checks. Long hours. Whew! According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 64.5 million Americans, or 26.5 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $175 billion in 2012.
If your goal is to sit back and wait for volunteers to show up, then your efforts will be entirely in vain. Use the following ideas as a guide to build or enhance your volunteer outreach.
- Get Graphic
Invest energy into telling your story and the story of your volunteers. Add photos and event updates on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to engage followers. You can also post information that is relevant to your cause and give your stance on it. Considering the shocking death of Carrie Fisher now would be the time to post tips on how to effectively cope with depression, how to help someone who is depressed and any other helpful information that could help community members that are struggling.
- Say Thank You
One of the greatest gifts a volunteer can get in return is a thank you! Those two powerful words can bring new volunteers, donations, resources your way. People like to know they are a part of an organization that cares. Thank you opens the doors to sustaining relationships and shows teamwork in action. Ideas on how to thank volunteers are virtually endless and are inexpensive. Think in terms of a community potluck, key chains, gift cards or a phone call – no thank you is too small.
With the emergence of social media, webinars and video calling, volunteers don’t have to sit in the office anymore. Allow them to handle tasks such as phone calls or email sends from the comforts of the nearest coffee shop.
- Make noise.
Before volunteers can beat down your door, they must know what value they bring to the table and why they should volunteer. They also want to know the skill set you are seeking. On your website, be brief and exact about how potential volunteers can get involved.
So, there you have it, a few ways to ward off the curse of bad volunteer outreach and experiences. What methods have been the most impactful for you when recruiting volunteers?
Author Vannessa Wade hails from Houston, TX and operates Connect The Dots PR where she helps clients create shareable stories, build brands and get the most out of social media. She enjoys French Fries, traveling, volunteering and the art of communications and public relations. Her clients have been featured in O Magazine, US News and World Report and Time.