Getting Started With Volunteer Recruitment

2. Targeting Potential Volunteers

Getting Started With Volunteer Recruitment
Table of Contents

    1. Pre-Recruitment Planning
    2. Targeting Potential Volunteers
    3. Outreach and Screening
    4. Follow-Up and Orientation

As your team ramps up your recruitment efforts, it makes sense to start by looking within your closest circle of influence and then widening the search field as necessary.  Here are some thoughts on where to start and how the recruitment strategy might progress:

a) Start With Previous/Identified Volunteers

Of course the first place to start is by identifying past volunteers as well as individuals who have offered to volunteer with your organization.

If your organization has a process in place to keep track of individuals who offer to volunteer throughout the year, you can simply pull that information and begin screening those candidates.

However, if there is no pre-existing list or database of volunteers, you might want to develop a process for gathering and storing this information from here on in. This could involve creating a volunteer application form, a volunteer database or at the very least, a spreadsheet. (If you are a Wild Apricot Membership Management Software client, you can capture this information a number of ways, such as creating a Volunteer Database and/or  creating groups on Volunteer/Membership Application forms to enable data management and customized emails.)

b) Look Within Your Immediate “Circle of Influence”

Have each recruitment team member create a list of potential contacts, from among their:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Co-workers
  • Neighbors
  • Community members (at church; clubs; sporting teams, etc.)

c) Publicize within your network:

If you’re having trouble identifying enough volunteers within your immediate circle, consider:

  • Writing a newsletter article or a post on your organization’s blog or forum
  • Posting a request on your Facebook page
  • Posting a compelling video or photos of last year’s event on your FB page and ask for new recruits (follow-up with anyone that “Likes” your post)

d) Broadening Your Circle of Influence

If you’ve surveyed family and friends and still come up short, you might need to widen your search to include:

  • Putting an ad in your community newspaper
  • Posting a request through your municipal or state/province volunteer centre (see resources below)
  • Posting a request at a local high school, college or a student volunteer centre
  • Signing up with one of the volunteer-matching sites (see "Additional Resources" section)

e) Targeting Specific Skills or Needs

If you need to find volunteers with specific skills or experience, you may need to look beyond your close circle. For example…

  • If you need one or a number of volunteers with, for example, skills at website development, PR or social media skills, perhaps you should target local small businesses that might be able to offer pro bono services (note: this might lead to a need for sponsor recognition).
  • If you are hosting a silent auction or another fundraising event for the first time, you might want to find out who has been involved in other similar events in your community – who might be willing to help (e.g., an auctioneer; member of a service club, etc.)
  • You can also consider whether a local company might be willing to organize their employees to assist with your event as a corporate initiative.

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Getting Started with Volunteer Recruitment by Wild Apricot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

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