I recently organized an event for my community, and I enrolled 225 volunteers for a two-day fundraiser! I’d love to share with you the steps I took to create this success.
First, a note on success creation and building positive relationships, then we’ll get down to brass tacks. My experience is that you can do all the right things, but if you are not coming from the right energy, you will not experience positive results.
The most common energy that I see non-profits, businesses and entrepreneurs get stuck in is desperation. When this energy is behind all of your actions, your actions become less powerful and can be perceived as predatory and sales-y. This is never the warm, attractive invite that you want to put out to your community or prospects.
This means that your first order of business is to get yourself aligned. I have other blog posts about how to do this if you are interested. When you achieve this alignment, then you can come from a plus of confidence, win-win, and collaboration.
Now, a quick note about relationships to ensure your next event or endeavor prospers. Here is the big secret: It’s all about relationships. It doesn’t matter what you are doing or what you are selling – it is the relationship that matters. Authentically investing in the relationship by genuinely caring about the people you interact with (yes, every single contact) will allow your business or organization to flourish. In addition to caring for your contacts, the second part of a relationship is sharing yourself, being vulnerable, open, and honest. Even in the professional world, I suggest revising your emails, letters and phone scripts to include space for you to share about yourself and learn more about your prospects.
Okay, and now down to the actual ‘to do’ list for enrolling volunteers:
1. Set up Signup Genius and list all of your volunteer shifts in an organized fashion. Include as much detail as possible.
2. Email information about your event, and the Signup Genius link for your event to your existing volunteer email list.
3. List your volunteer need description on all the volunteer sites in your area (you can Google this to find the websites for your area). For my area, these are the two most popular, Volunteer Connect and Volunteer Match.
4. List your volunteer job on Craigslist (and any other ‘job seeker’ sites for your community. Make sure to check Facebook Groups, as most communities have a help wanted closed Facebook Group that you can join.
5. List your volunteer job on the local college job board. You can also reach out to any professors (in your niche) and ask them if you can have 5 minutes of their class to talk about your mission and volunteer opportunities, or if they will distribute information for you.
6. Contact the organizations in your network (that also have volunteers) and request that they email their list of contacts with your volunteer job description.
7. Contact all service clubs (Rotary, Elks, Soroptimist, Kiwanis, etc) with your request. These groups are often looking for ways to become active in the community. If you plan early enough, you can even go and speak at one of their meetings.
8. Depending on your organizations’ mission statement, contacting churches can also be a great source for enrolling volunteers.
9. Create a poster to enroll volunteers. Make sure that it’s clear about your organizations’ mission, and that it communications the feel of your event, and clearly explains how volunteers can help. Also, make sure it has your website and contact info!
10. Get a list of the largest companies in your city (usually available online or at your local library) and contact each business. You can offer extra benefits to their company for signing up to volunteer as a team (like adding them to your website or bragging about them on social media.) You can also request that they display a poster in their breakroom.
11. Join local Facebook groups and then post about your event (including volunteer information) in the group. Often communities have specific groups designed to help others. These are great groups to post in. So far, I’ve found a ‘Pay it forward’ Facebook group in every community I’ve had a business-coaching client in.
12. Make 2-6 different fun pictures requesting volunteers (example here, here, and here) to post all over all your social media channels (repeatedly). You can also pay Facebook to promote these posts.
13. Email your contact list and asked them to re-post or share the above Facebook posts on their personal and / or professional pages.
14. Create a Facebook event, and chat up the event in the discussion area over the days / weeks leading up to the event. This is a great place to share quotes about volunteering, share your mission, or share any photos from past events.
15. List the event on every event site in your area. You can Google to find the ones in your area. (Here are some I use for Bend, Oregon) At the bottom of each event listing, make sure to have your volunteer request information and your Sign-up Genius link.
16. Go door-to-door to smaller businesses in your area and talk to them in-person to enroll them to volunteer for your event / fundraiser / organization
17. Everyone loves stories about communities coming together for a cause. Write a press release with this subject as your backbone and submit it to local papers and local bloggers. Make sure you include how community members can get involved as a volunteer with your organization.
1. Every time you have a volunteer sign up, send out a quick email thanking them and letting them know how excited you are to meet them and work with them.
2. Send out thank you cards or make thank you phone calls to all your volunteers after your event. Letters and emails also work, but they are less powerful. Make sure to save the contact information for all your volunteers so that you can reach out to them next time you need them!
3. Create social media posts acknowledging and thanking your volunteers publicly.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, suggestions, or to just to share a story.