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 services.
- 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 cosmetology!
- 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 book, The Volunteer’s Guide to Fundraising, by Ilona Bray (Nolo).