Net2 Think Tank Round-Up: Finding Volunteers Online
For this month's Net2 Think Tank, we asked you to share your tools, tactics, and best practices for promoting your volunteer opportunities online. There are many tools and resources available - so finding the ones that work best for your audience, and finding the ways that you can use them effectively can be a task. Below is a list of networks, tools, and best practices that will help steer you in the right direction.
While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Identifying and placing volunteers using the internet
The following networks and tools can help you to spread the word about your opportunity and find the perfect people to execute your need.
- Topical Networks
Reach out to networks that focus on the topic you're soliciting volunteers for. For instance, if you're looking for techies to volunteer during a disaster, reach out to Crisis Commons. Crisis Commons recommended by Tom Crane.
Reach out to a NetSquared Local group in your area for local promotion of your need. Or, share your volunteer opportunity on the NetSquared Community Blog, Linkedin, or Facebook page. Recommended by Tom Crane. (Thanks Tom!)
- Local corporations
"Many people working in corporations would love to volunteer for you. You can frame it as a team-building activity, and possibly get an in for employee giving campaigns if you do this." See full post from Mazarine Treyz
- Local universities
"Tons of students are looking for real world experience in everything from graphic design and marketing to case management to environmental stewardship. Why not do a little outreach and see if you can get people interested in the volunteer opportunities you have available?" See full post from Mazarine Treyz
- Local faithbased organizations
"Many faithbased organizations give a donation to a nonprofit each month. If you already have such an organization, why not ask if you can go speak to their group and ask for volunteers? There are tons of people in these organizations who love to help others. Give them a compelling story, and mention how you want to offer a fun gardening opportunity for them (for example)." See full post from Mazarine Treyz
- High schools
"Many high schools have a requirement to do 20 or more hours of service before they graduate. I know I had to do a lot of community service in a library before I could graduate." See full post from Mazarine Treyz
- Word of mouth
"Word of mouth is what we use to find new well matched volunteers. So to grow our volunteer base we nurture from within." See full answer from Trevor Lobel
- Your Donor Database
"Is there anyone in there, a loyal donor, who could be engaged as a volunteer?" See full post from Mazarine Treyz
"Start a Facebook fanpage and invite volunteers to “like” it. Set up your project as a calendar event on Facebook and invite your volunteers to sign up – and to invite their friends as well. Remember to send a personal message to each volunteer that signs up through Facebook to introduce yourself, confirm their attendance and let them know you’re counting on them showing up." See full post from Jessica Kirkwood
"Create a Twitter account for the project and ask volunteers to “follow” the account. Use Twitter to share #volunteer opportunities. (Using the #volunteer hashtag in the text of your tweet will launch your tweet into Twitter’s volunteer conversation.) You can also share last minute project updates like changes in driving directions through Twitter. During the project, upload and tweet photos for those who couldn’t join that day to show them what they’re missing." See full post from Jessica Kirkwood
HandsOn Network is the largest volunteer network in the nation and includes more than 250 HandsOn Action Centers in 16 countries. HandsOn includes a powerful network of more than 70,000 corporate, faith and nonprofit organizations that are answering the call to serve and creating meaningful change in their communities.
VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement.
- "I recommend VolunteerMatch.org for posting volunteer opportunities. It has a robust search interface and a variety of opportunities. I've volunteered for several organizations using this service. You can post local opportunities or web-based opportunities." See full answer from Jessica Sadoway
- "Volunteer Match has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 73,000 nonprofit organizations." See full answer from Jennifer Henry
- "You can post volunteer opportunities on here, and it's a wonderful place to get volunteers" See full post from Mazarine Treyz
The Extraordinaries is a microvolunteering platform where individuals can do small tasks, online, to help your organization. Using online micro-volunteers, you can get it done right now - for free - without expending precious staff time.
- "This is so fun. This website helps you connect with volunteers that may have 15 minutes or 1 hour to help you, but they can be anywhere in the world. So if you have a legal document that you need a lawyer to look over, you can start a volunteer opportunity on here. Maybe you have a grant you'd like to get edited, or some research that needs to be done. You can get volunteers to do that here too." See full post from Mazarine Treyz
Recruit volunteers to work online! The Online Volunteering service connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development: Volunteers contribute their skills online to help organizations address development challenges. Organizations collaborate with online volunteers over the Internet to strengthen the impact of their development work.
- "Onlinevolunteering.org is an incredible asset for any org. recruiting online volunteers." See full tweet from Romina Oliverio
Salesforce and SMS Office together
Salesforce is a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management service and SMS Office does bulk SMS text messaging.
- "We are using Salesforce to keep tabs on our volunteers and a product called sms office for sending out sms updates to our volunteers. With the assistance of these two platforms - our volunteers spread the word about not only what good work we do, but also how organised we are in managing our 300 odd volunteers." See full answer from Trevor Lobel
TweetPivot specializes in advanced Twitter list-making for organizations. See below for a suggestion on how to use the tool to find new volunteers (very creative!)
- "Tweeps that follow a non-profit organisation on Twitter are likely to have an interest in its cause, indeed some may already be active volunteers. Others may be more passive supporters who could be 'converted' to volunteers, given the right circumstances and approach. For example, the non-profit organisation could use direct messages (DMs) to engage targeted followers individually on Twitter with a personalised approach tailored to their interests. Such approaches take time and care to do well, therefore careful selection of who to target is important to efficiently attract more volunteers. This is where TweetPivot can help." See full post (including more information and a how-to video) from Tanya Morton
List your organization on Idealist and post opportunities, program information, events, and more
- "Need help with fundraising, someone to write your newsletter or assistance with web design? Idealist has over 88,000 volunteers registered in countries all around the world." See full answer from Jennifer Henry
Other Best practices and tips
And, here are a few more tips you can use no matter which networks or tools you choose to utilize:
- "Enable your volunteers to easily recruit their peers" See full tweet from Avi Kaplan
- "Give vols something important to do online!" See full tweet from Tom Crane
- "Use social media for volunteer recruitment, retention, and recognition." HandsOnNetwork has an excellent write-up of tips and advice for using social media for volunteer engagement.
- "You can run targeted demographical ads. So for example I have a background in zoology and have done nonprofit work. So I would target the age demo I want + location within driving distance of the non profit + interests. In this case people who have interests of conservation etc. " See full answer from Sean Dawes
There are so many ways to get the word out about opportunities to volunteer. What are we missing? Add your suggestions below!
About Net2 Think Tank:
The Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas. We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media. Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.