Group of volunteers raising their arms into the air and cheering.

Volunteers are undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of hosting a successful nonprofit event. They’re the backbone that help move your organization’s mission forward. But with that comes the responsibility of finding dedicated volunteers to help out at your event. They won’t appear out of thin air, leaving you to ask the big question: “How do I recruit volunteers for my nonprofit event?” Here’s our insight into how you can not only effectively recruit reliable volunteers, but also retain them for future events to come.

Before You Start Recruiting 

Before you start diving into your recruitment strategies and reaching out to potential volunteers, there are a few things that you’ll want to have in place beforehand to set yourself up for success. 


1. Craft Your Recruitment Message

A well-crafted recruitment message is needed to capture attention and inspire action in potential volunteers. Sending out a recruitment message with generic wording like “X organization needs volunteers” is not going to draw people in and make them believe in your organization’s mission. To write a compelling message, clearly outline your event's purpose and the impact volunteers can make. Keep the message concise and easy to understand, focusing on the benefits of volunteering and the experience they'll gain. This gives potential volunteers the why behind your event and not just how, which is far more impactful. 


2. Define Your Onboarding Process

It’s essential to have a clear plan for what volunteers will be doing at your event to effectively contribute to your organization. Establish different types of roles, then write up “job descriptions” to go along with each to make it easier for potential volunteers to find opportunities that best suit their skills and talents. Make sure that you can also host various volunteer orientations or information sessions to provide volunteers with an in-depth understanding of your organization's goals and the logistics of the event. 

It’s Go Time

Now that you have a compelling message for volunteers and a process to orient them with your nonprofit, it’s time to start recruiting. Follow these steps to uncover and engage potential volunteers like a pro. 


3. Tap Into Your Existing Network

The easiest way to recruit volunteers for your event is by starting with your existing network. Reach out to friends, family members, and colleagues who are already aware of your organization's mission. These people are more likely to become your advocates and help recruit others from their own networks. Word-of-mouth remains a highly effective tool for building a dedicated volunteer base over other types of advertising. In fact, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.


Close-up of hands passing out food at a donation center.


4. Leverage Social Media and Online Platforms

Volunteer opportunities should be easy to find for the highest chance of success. In our current digital age, social media and online platforms are very useful for recruiting volunteers. Social media websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow us to connect with others easily and can be used to quickly spread the word about your event and volunteer opportunities. Incorporating engaging content, eye-catching visuals, and storytelling into your social media strategy can capture the attention of potential volunteers and encourage them to take part in your event.


5. Collaborate with Local Schools and Universities

Reach out to local schools, colleges, and universities to promote volunteer opportunities as part of community service programs or extracurricular activities. It’s very common for students to need to meet a certain volunteer hour quota in order to graduate. Therefore, many students are eager to find opportunities to contribute to meaningful causes and gain valuable experience.


Woman sitting at a desk with a child teaching him science.


6. Reach Out to Local Businesses

Similar to schools, many businesses are also incorporating volunteering into their business model. VTO, similar to PTO, is a type of paid leave that employees can use to volunteer at approved nonprofits and events. Additionally, local businesses in particular, often have a stake in the community's well-being and their contribution can have an even more meaningful impact. By reaching out to these businesses, you’re not only fostering partnerships, but also inviting individuals who are passionate about giving back to join the cause.


7. Showcase Impact and Success Stories

Celebrate the impact of your non-profit or fundraising events by sharing success stories and showcasing the outcomes achieved through volunteer efforts. Visualizing the tangible results of their work can be a powerful motivator for both current and potential volunteers to stay engaged. Talking about the impact that you were able to achieve as a team makes everyone feel good and keeps them inspired.


Woman smiling while handing over a box of clothes.


8. Offer Volunteer Incentives

Once you have a solid base of volunteers, keeping them around and excited about future events is just as important as initial recruitment. Recognize and appreciate your volunteers by offering added incentives, such as event merchandise, special acknowledgments, or letters of recommendation. Expressing gratitude for their dedication to helping out at your event will make volunteers feel valued and more likely to continue supporting your organization.


9. Get Out There!

Recruiting volunteers for your nonprofit or fundraising event is a critical aspect of its success. With a dedicated volunteer team, your organization can achieve its goals and make a lasting difference in the community it serves. Implementing the strategies in this guide will help you find and keep dedicated volunteers who believe in your mission.


While you’re working on recruiting volunteers, let us handle your ticketing. With options for pay-what-you-can tickets, secure donation for virtual or hybrid events, and more, Passage has a customizable set up that can be tailored to all of your event’s needs. Schedule a demo to see how easy it is to set up in under 60 seconds.

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