This means that volunteers should be a major line item in any nonprofit's operating budget. Hiring a qualified volunteer manager is one area in which the return on investment can't be overstated. Finding volunteers is a huge part of the job description, but retaining those volunteers should be a nonprofit organization's focus; and this generally requires a human touch.
As far as recruitment goes, there are only so many avenues to explore when looking for volunteers. Granted, we could all probably afford to be a little more creative in our searches, but the basics are there: newspapers, like-minded organizations, and civic events. Most nonprofits have learned not to go anywhere without a clipboard and pen to sign up potential volunteers.
Things have gone a little beyond the clipboard and pen these days, however. The Internet has given us a new path to take to our volunteers. In the past decade or so, numerous matching organizations have popped up on the web, and the result is a good one for nonprofits.
One option is to take the new media approach to the want ad. Many cities have a resource in Craigslist.org. This no-frills web site allows organizations to advertise for volunteers as well as to find those offering their services.
There are several sites out there that allow a nonprofit organization to get "matched" up with potential volunteers. There are various ways in which this happens. Obviously, geography and volunteer interests can play a big role in determining a good fit. The nice thing is that those listed on the sites are already self-screened. After all, they wouldn't have gone to the trouble of signing up if they didn't have a good likelihood of following through on their interest in volunteering.
Why not consider one or more of the following resources:
- Volunteer Resource.org
- Service Leader
- Free Management Library
- Corporation for National and Community Service
Utilizing resources like these is just one way that nonprofits can leverage technology to get what they need. While these options are a great starting point, however, don't forget the importance of good training, support, and recognition in order to keep your volunteers on board for years to come.