If you run a nonprofit, you may not have the budget to pay for a huge team. As a result, pulling off a fundraising event may take a significant amount of time.
You need help.
So, you may be asking yourself, “How do I get passionate individuals on board?” In the guide below, I will outline top four tips to recruit and retain volunteers.
1. Network In-Person and Online
You have a variety of methods to attract volunteers for your event. Use everything at your fingertips, including word-of-mouth and newsletters. Sometimes the easiest place to start is recruiting your friends and family. Even creating a PSA on a bulletin board to recruit potential volunteers is a great first step.
But if you need significant interest, you’ll want a website page for the event and for your volunteers. On your site, display timelines, assignments, and announcements for current or prospective volunteers. If your site is WordPress based, there are a number of plugins you can use to make these functions work.
2. “No” Isn’t the End
Think like a salesperson when negotiating with a potential volunteer. A good salesperson isn’t pushy; she’s looking for where the customer’s desires and her goals meet. When a salesperson hears the word “no,” she doesn’t stop until she hears the word “yes.”
With volunteers, instead of a product or service, you are selling the benefits of your cause. What moves the volunteer? Why would volunteering be a great experience? Just as you do when seeking donations, focus on your prospect, not just your organization’s needs.
If you face a rejection, offer people an alternative. For example, someone who works nights could compose emails during the day. Or a nine-to-fiver could update the event website in the evening. Find a way for someone who wants to take part.
3. Assign Tasks Based on Skills and Interests
To keep volunteers happy, assign them to roles that suit their strengths. Ask them about their hobbies and work experience. If someone tells you they have graphic design or coding skills, offer them a web development role.
Or, maybe they show superior interpersonal skills. Assign them to social tasks. They can greet visitors, make calls, or act as business liaisons for receiving event donations.
Don’t forget that you need to support them throughout their volunteering experience. Yes, they are helping you get a job done, but they should also have a great experience. Be available to answer questions, to add encouragement and to praise them for their good work.
Remember that every volunteer is already a donor. They’re giving of their time and talents. Build good relationships!
4. Say Thank You
This is one of the most critical parts of fundraising. People will be less likely to volunteer again if you don’t show them the gratitude they deserve. But don’t assume you’re required to offer expensive gifts. Little things like a personal thank you note or a gift card can do the trick.
And please, if you’re throwing an event with food, be sure your volunteers eat for free. Little favors and respectful treatment will show that you appreciate their hard work and commitment to the cause.
Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for SBI Association Management. He regularly produces content for a variety of nonprofit management blogs, based around the transitional challenges that come with nonprofit fundraising and marketing efforts.