Too often, organizations passively wait for volunteers to
come to them, relying on existing donors, supporters, and neighbors to show
interest. But you can be more proactive in your volunteer recruiting efforts.
Studies show that the Internet has become second only to
word of mouth in its effectiveness at bringing in volunteers. If your nonprofit has projects that might
attract the enthusiasm of prospective volunteers – or would simply be fun or
interesting to get community members involved in – you might get assistance
from online organizations dedicated to matching volunteers with nonprofits who
can put them to good use.
Not all volunteer-match sites work in the same way, however.
Some focus on certain types of services, some offer financial incentives, and
so forth. Some national sites worth looking into include:
- The Clearinghouse for Volunteer Accounting
Services (CVAS), at www.cvasusa.org/. This
group matches accountants with nonprofits in need of their professional
- By partnering with generationOn, your organization
can offer service and volunteer opportunities to children and teens; see www.generationon.org.
- Idealist, at www.idealist.org.
Nonprofits can enter their own profile and update it to mention events,
internships, and volunteer opportunities.
- The Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), at www.jesuitvolunteers.org. The JVC’s
long-term volunteers, mostly recent college grads, accept one-year placements
where they provide direct services to economically poor or socially
marginalized people. (Your organization doesn’t have to be Catholic or
religious to use JVC volunteers.) The program pays travel costs and provides
other support, while your organization pays for food, a monthly stipend, daily
transportation, housing, and medical insurance.
- Make a Difference Day, at www.usaweekend.com/section/MDDAY.
This is an annual (October) event sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine. Volunteers seek out projects for one-time
work. Nonprofits as well as individuals can register project ideas.
- One Brick, at www.onebrick.org.
An all-volunteer organization operating in (at last count) 12 U.S. cities, One
Brick mobilizes its volunteers around one-time events, with the added incentive
of meeting to socialize afterward.
- SmartVolunteer, which focuses on matching
skilled professionals with nonprofits (www.smartvolunteers.com/default.aspx).
Its skills category includes everything from legal to brokerage to medical to
- Taproot Foundation, at www.taprootfoundation.org. This
organization places professional volunteers, with expertise in technology,
marketing, fundraising, and human resources, in nonprofits that have
successfully gone through a service grant application process. Grant
applications are reviewed quarterly, and you can expect the volunteer — or team
of volunteers — to work with your organization for up to six months.
- Volunteer Match, at www.volunteermatch.org. This site not
only offers volunteer-matching services, but information and webinars on such
topics as getting companies involved in group volunteer efforts, virtual volunteering
for people who want to work online from home, and attracting volunteers online.
Of course, before putting your nonprofit’s name on such a
site, you’ll want to be ready to handle any volunteers that respond -- particularly
if there’s a rush of interest! See the “Volunteers
and Your Nonprofit” section of Nolo’s website for more articles, or get the
Volunteer’s Guide to Fundraising, by Ilona Bray (Nolo).