Winning Over the Reluctant Volunteer

While we’d all love to believe that any volunteer coming our way is in it for the good of the cause, every volunteer coordinator knows that’s just not always the case.

Whether it’s a sullen teenager, a court-ordered volunteer, or just a serious introvert, you know you need a way to win them over. We’ve collected some of our favorite ways to chip away at those reluctant volunteers.

Appeal to Their Interests

Even though your volunteer might have joined your crew out of duty (rather than passion), chances are you can probably find something for them to like about your organization. If your volunteer is a parent, maybe they’d love to find out that the work they’re doing is going to benefit kids. Maybe the crabby teen volunteering for your 5k is into music and would love to help you set up the speakers at the check-in booth. Who knows? Honestly, not us. Are teens still into music? It’s worth a try.

Give ‘em a Break

Every volunteer needs a break sometimes and a volunteer who doesn’t want to be there definitely does. Set clear times when your team can sneak a snack on the side or a quiet moment. Just the knowledge that a chance to rest is in the near future is a huge help in keeping unenthusiastic volunteers on the move.


If a volunteer shows up to your event a little less than gung-ho, try giving them an option of what to do. While sitting in the break area with a bag of chips might not work, you might end up with a people-person who would love to do check-in, or a perfectionist who can make sure every single poster is straight. You might even get someone who’s obsessed with picking up trash and wants to be on garbage duty all day (we can dream).


And if all of that doesn’t work?

There are always snacks.

You can win anyone over with free snacks.



Read More

Building a Core Group of Volunteers

When the world needs a hero–that hero needs a team.

No matter how powerful, smart, or rich a superhero is, they always need a little help. Whether it’s from someone they depend on (hello, Alfred), a team of other superheroes (Thor may be mighty, but he’s even better with Stark and Captain America) or someone who swoops in to save the day at the last second (Eleven, what would Hawkins do without you?), these superheroes can’t succeed alone. Before we get too nerdy, the point is–you need a strong team who has your back. In the case of a
(super) volunteer coordinator, we’re talking about
your core group of volunteers.


Build your dream team

Maybe you’ve got a few people who’ve been there through it all with you, or maybe you feel a hole where a team of committed volunteers should be. Start by assessing the volunteers you have now. Ask yourself and your volunteers how you can better support them and lead them toward more significant roles in the organization. Invite volunteers to tackle problems you are facing and trust them with the tasks you give them. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team to better leverage your strengths and seek solutions for your weaknesses. Then, start recruiting new volunteers. Some of these new volunteers may start with simple tasks, but others may be ready for a meaningful role right away.


Include some of your current volunteers in this process of building the dream team. If you want to have a strong core volunteer team, you have to start working as a team now instead of continuing to go at it alone.


Show them the love

Start by saying the magic words: “thank you!” It sounds so simple, but somehow still gets overlooked. Say thanks with sincerity and get specific about what you are thanking them for. Say thank you verbally, in a handwritten note, or even publically if the opportunity presents itself. Maybe throw an appreciation party for core volunteers. Everyone has different motivations for volunteering, be it to support something they are passionate about or simply to get a free t-shirt. Try to understand what motivates your volunteers, especially your core team, and encourage them in a way that matches their personal goals. For instance, if they are looking for career growth opportunities or ways to network, make sure to connect them with the right people.


While you obviously want to roll out the red carpet for your core team, you are also the volunteer coordinator over all of the volunteers. Be tactful about how and when you say thanks to your core volunteers and continue to include all volunteers when you thank people for a job well done. Make gratitude and appreciation a part of your culture and ask your core volunteers to pass that appreciation down to the people who report to them as well.


What’s in it for them?

Why should you “promote” volunteers to the core team? And why should they even want to join this dream team? When people are committed to a cause, they like knowing their effort will make an impact. So if they are spending their time volunteering, they probably want to get the highest ROI for both you and them. When they take on more responsibility, that often means more ownership. It means doing higher level tasks and having a voice in the decisions and direction of the event or organization. Ultimately, volunteers may get more fulfillment out of the experience. And in return, you get a stronger volunteer base with a higher likelihood of retention.


Now that you’ve got your team, all that’s left is putting on your cape.



Read More

Steps & Tips for Creating a Facebook Group for Volunteers

Facebook can be a phenomenal method for keeping volunteers connected. A simple Facebook provides a place for members to post photos, share tips, ask questions and meet other volunteers. So, wondering how you’d even get one of these started? We’ve got all the information you need below.


On the homepage of your Facebook account, select ‘Groups’ among the options on the left-hand side of the page under the “Explore” heading. On the top right corner, click the green button which says “+Create Group.” A window will pop-up for you to enter group information:


Name of Your Group
No need to get fancy or creative here, especially if the Facebook group is a recruiting tool, you’ll want it to be easily searchable. Which isn’t to say that niche groups of volunteers can’t have their own internal group for discussion with a more personalized name (ie IronMan Wolf-team Volunteers).


Add Some People
Start off by adding your volunteer team leaders & managers to the group and they can add their volunteer team. Definitely make sure to add only individuals who have made a commitment to the group, especially those who have an administrative role in managing. This will be determined largely by your privacy settings.


Select Privacy
A good way to decide which setting would be best: how much time do you have to manage the volunteer page? A sense of inactivity on a page can deter people from visiting.

  • Public—anyone can search for and join this group. Because this kind of group is so open, this kind of setting is recommended especially for large events which require a large volunteer base. This opens up content to be shared and also serves as a recruiting tool for the next event.
  • Closed—can be searched, but requires permission to join. More for internal use, and dissemination of information.
  • Secret—invite only. What is there to be said for secrets? They don’t make friends, but can keep them.


To change group information you can add more detail, description and the like by returning to the main “Groups” page. You will see the group you just created under “Groups You Manage”. There will be a wheel next to the group name where a sub-menu will let you change notification settings, group settings, favorites and last but not least, let you leave the group.
To add more people once the initial work has been done is simple. Visit the main page for the group and type in the names or e-mail addresses of those you wish to add in the designated window to the right of the group interface.


And there you have it. A step-by-step guide to creating your first Facebook group. So get out there, and start creating a community amongst your volunteers!

Read More

Getting Sponsorship when You’re Scared to Ask for Money

Before we get started, let me be honest: I’m not great at asking for money. Talking about money makes me uncomfortable. Asking for money makes me uncomfortable. But at the end of the day, we in the nonprofit and event management business can’t avoid it. Procuring and developing sponsorship relationships is essential to success.


So let’s consider this a scaredy cat’s guide to asking for sponsors. We can do this! In many ways, the same principles that make an effective volunteer manager also make a prolific fundraiser. Take a look at four simple ways so secure sponsors.


Know Yourself.

There’s a theme throughout many of our posts at VolunteerLocal, but it’s that important! Know the vision behind your event. Know how your event fits into the overall mission of your organization. Know how your event provides value and benefits for the local community and for the sponsor. Nailing down great answers to these topics is incredibly helpful for recruiting volunteers, and it’s no different when thinking about sponsors. Knowing the details gives you confidence and helps potential sponsors put their trust in you.


Find Sponsors that Fit.

In the same way that there are people best suited to volunteer for your event, there are certain sponsors that are a good fit! Consider your vision and the mission of your event. Then research companies and organizations that already align with you. These potential sponsors are most prone to listen to you, and you likely have the most to offer them in return.


Look at local businesses and organizations. Examine your list of previous volunteers and identify any business owners or groups of people working for the same company. Assembling a list of warm prospects keeps building your confidence and eases some anxiety.


Do Your Research.

Develop your presentation with each organization in mind. Just like when you’re talking to different sources of volunteers, this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Get to know your audience well, and demonstrate this knowledge by tailoring your pitch to show why investing in your event is the right choice. This takes a lot of attention to detail and extra time, but it makes all the difference!


Be Generous.

Many companies and organizations are willing to use their resources to invest in good causes, but they are still looking for the best return on their investment. Get creative in how you can give them high value exposure before, during, and after your event. Include sponsors in promotional material, add logos to event swag, offer high level investors to sponsor an entire section of your venue, find spots in your event schedule to integrate sponsor representatives into the festivities, send out post-event summaries to show them how much exposure your event generated on their behalf. In the same way volunteers are grateful for perks, your relationship with sponsors continues to grow as you find creative, meaningful ways to bring them into the event and repay their generosity.


If you’re like me and you find asking for money intimidating, don’t let it cripple your progress. Just focus on these essentials of fundraising. You can do it!




Read More

Why Volunteer Name Tags Totally Rock

Investing in nametags is a great way for volunteer managers to build relationships and stay organized. As Dale Carnegie of How to Win Friends and Influence People fame once said,

“A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”

But creating volunteer nametags might rank near dead last of to-do list tasks that a busy coordinator wants to take on. Nametags can be drama: lanyards or sticker tags? Do the tags go into the printer face-down or up? Who has time to alphabetize, anyway?

I’ve got a blank space baby…And I’ll write your name.

First, decide what kind of nametags work best for your event. If you want volunteers at a large event to look like they have authority, lanyard nametags could be the way to go. Lanyards can be pricey, but with an effective check-in and check-out system, you may be able to re-use them. Some volunteers love to collect snazzy branded event lanyards as a souvenir, if that’s in the budget. Classic sticky label nametags are a convenient choice. Use a mail-merge feature to pre-print batches of names and logos or other information on the tags. If you’re running a home building construction site, though, sticky won’t be the way to go. Consider designing a nametag area into the volunteer T-shirt so volunteers can DIY with permanent markers, no sweat. Engraved pin or magnetic nametags are a meaningful recognition gift for super-volunteers who put in lots of hours each year.

Say my name, say my name.

You’ve invested energy designing and organizing your nametags, so make sure to put them to use and actually call volunteers by their names when you offer them direction or praise them for a job well done. If you notice Sue is amazing at event setup but Rick should never be allowed to hold a roll of tape again, it’s a lot easier to make sly notes for future assignments than to have to ask around to find out the name of the guy who put up all of the crooked signs.

Hi! My name is (what?)…My name is (who?)…

Nametags aren’t just for your convenience as a volunteer manager, though. It’s helpful for a group of volunteers who are working a long shift together to have a backup after initial introductions go in one ear and out the other. If your volunteers are facing attendees or working with participants, nametags help you get better feedback on who was helpful or who might be lacking in customer service skills.

Don’t get rickrolled by unidentifiable volunteers. Build time into your planning schedule to create and organize nametags – and rock on. [And, ahem, VolunteerLocal offers a nametag feature as part of the Conquer Plan to help you save time on this pesky but practical task.]


Read More

Most Effective Volunteer Recruitment Strategies

When you’re looking for volunteers for your event, the task may seem a bit daunting in the beginning. Don’t worry. Everyone starts somewhere.

As a wise man (Drake) famously said, “Started from the bottom now we’re here.”

This Washington Post article found that whether you’re finding people passionate about your mission, sharing your organization’s story or just meeting people in person, you have a real chance at drawing volunteers in. The article highlights recruitment efforts of different organizations and they’re all things you can easily do for your organization. We’ve compiled our top tips below to not only find volunteers, but find the perfect match.

Tell a story:

  • Use social media to your advantage. If there are any interesting anecdotes, people or causes associated with your organization, share them to get people excited about joining.
  • Give details about your organization on your website. Share your history, mission and stories about your staff to give prospective volunteers a personal connection.
  • A picture is worth a 1,000 words, so save your breath and share event photos! Plus, you can tag volunteers for their friends to see and potentially join as well.

Get your feet dirty:

  • Meet face-to-face. There’s a reason grassroots efforts have stuck around for so long and that’s because of the connection. Get into your community.
  • Attend volunteer fairs. Students are often seeking community service hours or experience, so get them amped up about participating in your organization. Make that conversation happen.
  • Talk to your network. Don’t be shy about asking friends or neighbors to volunteer – just asking may be the nudge they need.

Think for the future:

  • Create meaningful titles for volunteer positions – people might just be looking for opportunities to add to their resume.
  • Make a good experience for volunteers to make them lifelong returners. Express gratitude and appreciation for the work that they put in.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out again after hearing a “no.” Keep “no” volunteers in mind for a future position or date that may work better for them.

Make it fun:

  • People are more inclined to say yes if they’re with people they know. Encourage people to volunteer with friends or family.
  • Make a community. After volunteer events, go out for food and drinks. Having a fun time will encourage people to continue returning.
  • Everyone likes swag. Give volunteers t-shirts or other souvenirs to commemorate their time and it provides an opportunity for further promotion.

Know your audience

  • Crafting a targeted campaign will ensure you’re reaching your ideal volunteers, while also appealing to those who are interested in what you’re offering.
  • Provide detailed volunteer descriptions. People not only want to know the details of what they may be participating in, but this will also ensure you get the ideal candidate.
  • Go to where the volunteer prospects are. If you’re hosting a marathon, offer to speak at a gym or with your local high school’s track team.


Read More

How to Create (and Reach) Your Goal

As a volunteer coordinator, it’s important to know the vision of the event you’re helping to coordinate. Visions can be vague, but putting in the time to create a well-defined idea will take you a long way. In order to have a successful event you need to know what outcome you want and how to attain it. We’ve rounded up some simple steps to help you develop a precise plan for your event so you can get your whole team on board.


Step 1: Create a Goal

Develop two or three clear goals. The format we like best is S.M.A.R.T. goals. It stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. These goals will be different for each event but the principals can be broadly applied. If you are raising money through a fundraiser have an EXACT amount you are striving to raise, the number should be challenging but reasonable. Set a deadline to have raised the money by. You can set a goal for number of participants, shares on social media, the list is endless as long as it is something you can track. If one of the goals is to have a fun event, then create a survey that you can measure participants’ reactions.


Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Results-focused – Time-bound


Step 2: Create a Plan

Once you’ve identified your goals, you need to set clear steps to achieve them. If you want to raise a specific amount of money, how will you do that? You’ve made sure the goal is reachable, you just need to know how to get there. You could launch a social media campaign to raise awareness of your event or offer prizes for participants to raise money. 


Step 3: Communicate

Communicate your goals (and your plan to reach them) to your volunteers -they’re your best resource on the ground. If your goal is communicated clearly to volunteers, your team will be able to share that information with attendees.


The best way to achieve the vision of your event is to have a clear idea of what you want so you can communicate it with your team and, ultimately, the people participating in your event.  



Read More