Do you need help with how to recruit volunteers for a charity or non-profit? Or how to attract volunteers? Or are you even wondering, where can I find volunteers? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you will find this webpage more than useful.
Based on my years of experience, I have detailed below where to find volunteers. These are the best places I know. Unlike other such lists, this one is tried and tested. I hope you will find it useful. Happy hunting!
When you are thinking, “Where can I find volunteers?” Social media is a great answer. There are 44 million active social media users here in the UK. That’s 66% of the population (2018, Statista). We should not ignore these figures. It is very likely that would-be volunteers will be using social media. To reach them you need to put yourself in front of them. The simplest way to do this is to go to social media, where they are spending their time.
Some organisations are reluctant to use social media in their volunteering/promotional campaigns. This seems to be mainly due to a lack of understanding. Today, if your organisation does not use it, you are at a disadvantage.
For where to recruit volunteers using social media, ensure your focus is on Facebook. I feel it is the most crucial social network for many reasons:
- Facebook holds by far the largest market share of all social network platforms in the UK
- It has a broad demographic of users, especially in contrast to other large platforms. This makes it a good choice for finding new volunteers for many different causes
- You can build and grow a community by creating pages and groups
- It could be argued that having a Facebook presence is the least time-consuming to manage
- You can use Facebook’s targeting options for running paid advertising
- You can also run paid advertising on Instagram using the Facebook advertising platform.
There are of course other social networks you could also utilise. Twitter is an obvious choice; Instagram and Pinterest are too. Each platform has its own benefits. Your choice of which to use will depend on the demographics and interests of those you wish to reach. My advice would be to use Facebook first. Once you are happy with this platform, then expand your approach to include others.
Not a place but rather a strategy I know. With that said, referrals will often happen outside of your organisation’s office (at a place).
A great way to find new volunteers is to have your volunteers refer people. Your staff too can help with this. We are all influenced by those we know. A trusted friend recommending you a voluntary organisation is likely to be far more persuasive than any advert.
In order for people to want to make referrals, they need to have enjoyed their experience with you. Consider the voluntary work you ask people to do. Are there good volunteer opportunities available? Do you run interesting volunteer projects? Are there support staff in place to provide volunteer support? Working with volunteers already will give you an insight into how they perceive you. Your voluntary roles must be attractive to attract volunteers.
Your Own Website
Where to find volunteers? – On your own website of course. A website is the world’s window into your organisation. A staggering 88% of adults in Great Britain used the internet at least every week last year (ONS). Thus, your volunteer opportunities should be on display online. You need to present your organisation at its best when potential new recruits find you. In our experience, the most volunteer enquiries come through an organisation’s website. This is why we always focus on websites when working with voluntary organisations.
I debated for some time about whether to include this in the list. When looking at where to find volunteers, does a search engine count? Well, yes it does. People search for volunteer opportunities using search engines. Thus, you need to appear on the search engine results so that they can find you. You also need to be listed in the search engine results for you to find them. As a marketer, I think everyone should use search engines to find volunteers.
There may be websites that receive more visits from potential volunteers than yours. This is okay and to be expected. Their marketing budgets will likely be larger than yours. Websites running as businesses, for example, invest in gaining traffic to their site. These are not always volunteer-related – which is a crucial point. Though a website is not volunteer-related, would-be volunteers may still be visiting. Do-it.org, Gumtree and Facebook (yes, it is a website) are all good examples.
Think about who volunteers at your organisation and where they would visit online. If you know your volunteer audience and the websites they frequent, you can put yourself in front of them. When website visitors arrive at your site from another, this is known as referral traffic. Include a link to your website where you can on other web pages, as this can bring new volunteers to you.
Local Press Coverage
Specifically, free local press coverage.
There are people who still read the printed press. This includes newspapers, magazines and small publications. For charities or non-profit groups, it is often possible to get your news into these. Rather than approaching journalists saying “I need volunteers, please help”, give them a news story instead. You could mention voluntary roles as part of the quotes you provide. This can help you with recruiting volunteers as well as raising awareness.
Don’t be put off if you do not make it in the first time. I’ve personally found that persistence pays.
When looking at where to find volunteers, these can be helpful. I am mainly talking about schools, colleges and universities. Use them to promote volunteer opportunities.
It can seem confusing looking at how to find volunteers at large institutions. If you contact them to ask “Where can I find volunteers at your institution?” They will likely have a process. Liaise with them to ensure you abide by this process. It could pay dividends in helping you find keen volunteers.
Another tip for how to recruit volunteers for a nonprofit organisation: explore companies. Some corporations offer programmes with volunteer options for their employees.
This can be the answer if you are thinking, “Where can I find volunteers with specific skills?” Such corporations are likely to have a skilled workforce. If you can find one with a volunteer programme, you will have access to skilled volunteers. Approach companies in your local area if this might be helpful to you.
Clubs or Groups
Any club or group that has members could be full of potential volunteers. The benefits of using volunteers from groups are many. Depending on the group, they could already have volunteering experience. This will help them understand the ethos involved. It can also help you build strong connections between yours and their organisation. Which brings us on to partnerships.
Working in Partnership with Other Organisations
Looking at where to find volunteers can be a long-term plan. Building partnerships with other organisations is a way to raise your profile. This can then pay dividends to people becoming volunteers. For example, offering first aid training to the local W.I. may help raise awareness of your cause. W.I. members could become interested in your work and volunteer opportunities.
A where to find volunteers list wouldn’t be complete without a section on the volunteer centre. Community Voluntary Services (CVS) can be found throughout the UK. These are useful for both volunteers and local voluntary services.
Many volunteer centres are very proactive in promoting volunteering. As such, they are often the first point of contact for those considering local voluntary work. Thus, you want your organisation to be in your local volunteer centre’s database.
Places We No Longer Invest In For Finding Volunteers
“Between 2000 and 2015, participation rates increased from 39% to 41% for men and from 39% to 42% for women but the average time spent volunteering decreased from 12.3 to 11.3 minutes for men and 16.3 to 15.7 minutes for women.” (Changes in the value and division of unpaid volunteering in the UK, ONS.)
Everything changes over time. This includes people’s attitude towards volunteering. It includes where they spend their time (both on and offline). It also affects the media they consume. Many sources state that traditional marketing methods are still effective. Such methods include newspaper advertising and leaflet drops. Still, my own experience does not fit with their findings.
A lot has changed since I first started helping causes gain volunteers. Methods that worked seven years ago no longer get me the results I want. Yet, new methods that didn’t exist now achieve even better outcomes. When choosing marketing methods, we consider factors such as cost, measurability and scalability. This leads us not to invest in certain marketing methods.
Where To Find Volunteers – Areas We Avoid
Based on our knowledge and experience, we no longer invest our time or budgets in these areas:
- Paid newspaper adverts
- Paid space in small publications
- Leaflet drops
- Networking events
- Online banner advertising and small directories.
When considering where to find volunteers for our clients, we no longer consider these effective. Please note that this does not mean you should not try them. Each organisation and location is unique. You will likely have varying success using a variety of methods. This will depend on your cause and the types of volunteers you need.
I hope this article gives you some useful ideas for where to find volunteers. Volunteer recruitment may seem confusing and difficult. I can help. My team, specialise in helping non-profits recruit and keep volunteers. To find out how we can help you, get in touch.