Thanks to the questions and conversations that pass by during sessions with our partners, we have come to the following insights with regard to approaching new volunteers. We go through them on the basis of four questions:
How can I reach new volunteers?
The answer to this question is of course the holy grail of questions. Unfortunately, the answer to this is not clear-cut. There are many ways and everyone will have to find out for themselves which ways work best for their platform. Moreover, it also depends on the type of activity and the target group.
There are three lessons that stand out that are always true.
(Physical) contact works. As soon as organizations and potential volunteers come into contact with each other, something can happen. The organization learns about the wishes of volunteers. The volunteer gets to know the people behind a vacancy or organization. Often a click is enough to start exploring.
Translate the volunteer's story. People are inspired by others. When they hear or see the story of another volunteer, they gain insight into what it can bring them. Again, the "personal" connection plays a major role here.
Use the benevolence of your network. You are all doing something good, creating impact. People and organizations like to participate in this and often have a little more to contribute. If they can also show this to others, there will be room for a win-win situation.
Tip: you may be able to use volunteers to reach new volunteers. Some partners have a volunteer editorial team (headed by an employee) who write and share volunteer stories. Others have volunteers who go to events to recruit new volunteers.
What ways are there?
We're not really telling you anything new here, but it never hurts to have an overview. Inspirational!
Markets: volunteer markets, trade fairs, internship markets. Ideal ways to create physical contact moments. Being present in other parties' markets also helps.
Events: volunteer awards, organization awards, volunteer week. Great ways to spread the story and expand the network.
Meetings/webinars: regularly sharing your knowledge helps. Also, try to join in the activities of others.
Advertising: local / Sunday newspaper, local radio, and TV. Local media like to show their involvement and via-via there are often more opportunities than you think.
Newsletters: your own, but also those of others. Perhaps you can pay attention to each other.
Social media: if you do it do it right and make sure you are responsive, you don't have to be on all channels.
Networking: the power of questions is often underestimated. If you get a no, ask if they have someone in their network who could help you further. Most people are benevolent.
Whichever channel you approach and how you do it, there is only one rule for marketing: you have to keep DOING it (you never know when the exact moment will be that you will win someone over).
Tip: use as much video as possible. Nowadays it is very easy to make and share a short video. Moving image attracts more attention. Especially among young people. An example of one of our partners is that they ask active volunteers to briefly share their experiences.
Where can you find special target groups?
There are as many target groups as there are niches. You have obvious groups such as the young, the elderly, and people who love nature. However, it pays to go deeper. The more specific the target group, the smaller the number of members, but the more likely they are engaged and responsive. Below are five specific groups and examples for inspiration:
New residents within a municipality (is there an information package for new residents in which your platform can be included?)
Almost retired (do pension unions offer local information evenings in the region in which volunteering should actually be discussed?)
Local residents who care about the local park or nature reserve (do they have a Facebook or other group where you could post a conservation job?)
Expats (are there newsletters or platforms that focus on non-native speakers?)
Pupils with obligations (are there schools in the area that make Social Internships compulsory?)
If you have a specific target group in mind, you can search for places where they come together. Online you can think of Facebook, LinkedIn, newsletters, webinars, podcasts. Offline you can think of information evenings, clubhouses, sports associations. The chance is often greater that you will find someone there than that you only spread the activity through your own general channels. Also a good way to expand your network.
How can I train organizations?
Of course, all the information you find here also applies to organizations themselves. Below is a list of things our partners do to activate organizations on their platform.
Knowledge base on the platform (sharing information, tips and tricks)
Sharing guidelines and checklists (sharing information, tips and tricks)
Regularly offer partner sessions and webinars (and then post them on Youtube)
Schedule physical meetings every now and then (1-on-1 works very well)
Follow up organizations after they post an activity (at that point they are receptive)
Create networking events (stimulate mutual collaboration)
Which platforms can I use best?
There is no clear answer to this either, but LinkedIn and Facebook are clearly the most popular platforms among our users. Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Tiktok are also used. There are also a few lessons to be learned here:
Choose consciously. You only get value from a platform if it attracts attention. Make a conscious choice and be responsive. People expect reactions and activity. Rightly so.
Customize your content. On LinkedIn you can tell a longer and more substantive story than on other platforms. On Instagram you have to keep it much more visual again. Each platform also has its own formats (think Instagram Stories).
Tip: use a social media management tool. Crowdfire, Hootsuite, Sendible, Buffer are a few mentioned examples (but there are more, so do your own research). With the help of such a tool you can manage multiple platforms at the same time. Some partners even have volunteers for this!
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you. Have fun with the implementation and success!
Do you have a tip or trick that is not listed? Let us know!