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Engage and Inspire Volunteers

Volunteer engagement is about finding AND keeping volunteers that are the right fit for your non-profit organization. A solid volunteer program can enable your organization to develop a loyal group of fans and ambassadors who will promote your agency. 

Show Volunteers How They'll Help

Volunteers will feel more a part of your organization if they understand how they can help your organization and the community you serve. Create a great impact statement, which can be used to recruit, retain and recognize volunteers, by answering the following:

  • Who will the volunteer be helping?
  • How will the volunteer opportunity make a difference in the community?

You can upload your impact statements to Spark.

Create Powerful Stories

Whenever you create a new call for volunteers, couch your description within the story of your organization, making it clear how volunteers impact the work you do. Stories can pack a powerful emotional punch, making storytelling one of the most effective ways to show potential volunteers the kind of the impact they can make.

Storytelling basics:

Beginning: What is the situation? Who is involved? (Personalize your stories, but don’t give so many details that people can be identified.)

Middle: What problem is occurring? How does the individual, group or your organization need help? Describe the needs of those involved.

End: How can volunteers help resolve the situation and change outcomes?

Call to Action: Ask potential volunteers to contact your organization, making it as simple as possible for them to connect to the right person.

Promote Your Opportunities

Once you’ve created stories to let volunteers know why your organization exists, what it hopes to accomplish, and why they should care, you need to get the word out.

  • Share your agency’s stories in blog posts, Instagram photo-story series, videos or Facebook posts. You can even tell stories in 140 characters!
  • If your ideal volunteer isn’t social media-savvy, leave a story with a call to action on a library notice board or a volunteer centre.
  • Deliver a short presentation outlining your agency’s story for local clubs or groups. (Don’t forget the call to action!)
  • Tap into your volunteers. Because they speak from their own experience, volunteers who share your organization’s story―and its need for volunteers― can be your best ambassadors.  
  • Finally, share your stories (as well as your impact statement and opportunity descriptions) on SPARK. We will showcase your stories and help people find you through our search.

Re-Engage Current Volunteers

Redirecting current volunteers into new roles can motivate and inspire people who want to try something new. To find out more about their skills and interests as well as new ways they could contribute to your agency, survey volunteers or, even better, initiate a one-on-one conversation. avoid describing the positions as jobs or unpaid work

Messages of Hope on a Grey Day

Your Stories

Reflections of a student volunteer: I think that I will always remember Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Driving to the Grand River Regional Cancer Centre I doubted how drawing messages on the sidewalk with chalk could make a substantial effect on a person's life. It was a cold and wet day with no sun. Our class pulled up in our yellow school bus at about 9:15 am, our teacher directed us to this open, garden like area with sidewalks at the very front of the hospital. From this area we could see many windows from which patients, doctors, nurses, etc. would soon be seeing our art. Our class of 39 students split into two groups. My group toured the hospital first. What I gained most from this tour was an understanding of what patients would be experiencing daily. Seeing the patients that were fighting to live and understanding their treatments helped me to understand how great our impact would be. Stepping out of the hospital and seeing all the messages that the other group had written was absolutely inspiring. All together my classmates and I drew sidewalk chalk drawings for two hours, writing inspiring messages like “You Go Girl!”, “We are Proud of You”, “You're Doing Great!” etc., making drawings, and just putting colours on the dull sidewalk. Our hands were cold but our excitement for the patients to see the finished product kept us going. I remember seeing patients walk by and smile. This helped me to see our impact. At the very end of the two hours I walked down the whole garden area that we had drawn on, wishing I could see how the patients would see it from the windows. I saw so many bright messages, and drawings and prayed that the patients would be able to make out what they said. I remember thinking “We made a difference. I made a difference.” I left feeling like I was somewhat connected with the patients up in the hospital looking down at us. On the ride home we got a message from one of the doctors, a student’s mother, who we had seen before we starting drawing. It read “Please thank everyone. The messages are so big and bright. You can see them so well from the windows. Sandra, our chief nurse in the systemic suite, is telling all the patients to have a look.” On this dreary, cold, gross day, all the patients, both fighting to kill cancer and fighting to live with it, would be looking out the windows and seeing our messages. Families with kids our age and younger would look out the window and feel happy, maybe forgetting for a minute about how their loved one is struggling to fight cancer, or being inspired to feel that they can keep fighting. This service initiative left me knowing that I could make a change, that in this huge world with 7.53 billion people, I myself could help. -- Abby S.

On Tues. May 28, 2019, the Grade 9 class of St. John's-Kilmarnock school filled the sidewalks in fron...

Spark Plugs

Great stuff from around the world. Check back often to see what's new!

Are you looking for a volunteer with a specific skill? Be clear about how they can help and get creative about where and how you share it!

Keeping your audience actively engaged on social media takes time and dedication. To make it easier, check out this great blog post that gives you 12 Ways to Jazz Up Your Facebook page.

Download this free volunteer engagement assessment tool and learn about new ways to amp up your volunteer program!

Looking for a rockstar volunteer who has the skills you need for your next project? Learn why the name you give to the opportunity can make all the difference.

Want to brush up on your social media skills? Check out this free toolkit designed specifically for nonprofits and charities!

When interviewing potential volunteers, how do you transform their interest into committment? Get some tips from this article on Charity Village!

Want to kickstart new ways to mobilize large numbers of volunteers for your cause? Take a look at the four factors in this article that can help you succeed!

Wonder what youth REALLY think about volunteering? Check out these youth bloggers who share their experiences. 

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