Volunteers help make the world go around, whether they're building homes in underdeveloped regions or assisting at a local food bank. These individuals bring a wide array of skills to any initiative, ranging from specialized skill sets – such as those used in teaching or tutoring – to sheer manpower. While the benefits brought forth by volunteers cannot be disputed, some companies have a difficult time attracting individuals for their projects. Executives who are looking for help when it comes to attracting volunteers should consider the following:
Enlist the assistance of nonprofit organizations
Nonprofits are a valuable resource for any company officials seeking volunteers. While not all organizations are strictly volunteer-based – meaning that they don't all operate solely employing individuals who donate their time – these companies have banks of volunteers from which they can usually pull.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Faith-Based and Community Initiative recommends that companies employ the assistance of volunteer service organizations, or those whose mission is to connect eager participants with organizations in need. While officials may need to pay VSOs to initially access the list of volunteers, the group that is eventually recruited may provide services that will outperform any monetary commitment. Additionally, volunteers recruited by VSOs are typically screened, interviewed and committed to serving a cause, meaning that they are highly likely to show up for an event.
Students, students, students
Whether they're in high school or college, students are one of the greatest resources that companies can recruit when it comes to volunteer work. Not only are these individuals typically filled with more energy, but they are gifted with a plethora of free time that many appreciate giving back to the community. Both groups actively seek ways in which they can volunteer their time, especially since they are frequently members of student organizations that require a set amount of community service time per semester.
The Fundraising Authority recommends putting up flyers around campuses and in coffee shops to reach the college crowd. Lance Trebesch, CEO of TicketPrinting.com, explained on the site that individuals within this demographic tend to be more engaged in issues they're passionate about, which reflects in their performance.
"Often times, college students are easy to get excited about causes because of the nature of their age," Trebesch wrote in a guest blog for the site. "They're idealistic and feel they can help make a difference."
Recruiting student volunteers may also be a smart decision for companies looking to reach a wide variety of participants, as student populations typically encompass a number of different personalities, ages and backgrounds. Additionally, this group has a heavy influence on their peers, meaning that one student who has experienced a positive volunteering experience is likely to spread the word to his or her friends. This word-of-mouth technique is one of the most powerful marketing tactics a company can employ, so ensuring a volunteer opportunity is engaging and rewarding is essential.
Using promotional items to attract volunteers
To draw in large numbers of volunteers, event planners can provide promotional items to people to both encourage participation and provide prizes for those giving back. Customizing promotional purchases to the event at hand may be crucial to increase awareness for the event. For example, an event that promotes literacy within the community should consider distributing personalized notepads or journals that feature the company logo. Projects that raise awareness for healthy living or those that feature marathons may be better suited for personalized drinkware – including sports bottles – that allow volunteers to carry water and promote a company's image while doing so.