Increase support for your nonprofit with volunteering activities people love

Katarina Wagner January 27, 2022

In this post:

Popular field volunteering activities that attract supporters What makes Field Volunteering attractive for volunteers  How to recruit volunteers for field volunteering  How volunteers can share their skills with you and your beneficiaries What makes skills-based volunteering attractive for supporters How to recruit skilled volunteers for your nonprofit

As a nonprofit organization, the chances are high that you have many plans but few resources; you’re overflowing with ideas but understaffed when it comes to volunteers. 

In this article, you’ll learn about popular types of volunteering activities, the impact they can have on your nonprofit, and how to best recruit volunteers.

Even if at first some of these activities don’t seem suited for your nonprofit because they don’t seem to fit your cause, there are ways of making them work for your organization.

Remember, people who volunteer are also more likely to donate to nonprofit organizations. So think about all the ways you can use volunteering activities to

  • support your programs and save costs for your organization and 
  • create a first contact with new supporters to then further engage them with your cause.

Field Volunteering

This kind of volunteering is probably the most common, it’s in-person and hands-on but doesn’t require many specific skills or previous experience.

🚮 Participating in clean-ups

In 2019 the hashtag #trashtag went viral when people around the world participated in this cleanup challenge and shared before and after photos of the area, which they restored by clearing it of litter.
At least since then, people immediately associate the word “Clean-up” with volunteering your own time to clean neglected public areas and more and more people are willing to take this type of action, with or without posting about it on social media.

How to make it work for any organization

→ Clean-up activities aren’t only relevant for environmental organizations. If your nonprofit is in need of renovating its spaces, ask volunteers to help you with that. Volunteers might be happy to help and it will save you valuable time and money which you can then invest in your programs and projects for good.

🙋 Providing companionship and supporting social events

Social centers and homes for people in vulnerable situations have qualified staff to take care of the main tasks but they might not have enough capacities for extra activities and providing personal attention to fight feelings of loneliness and exclusion.
Organizing (covid-safe) social activities and volunteering simply by donating some time for a chat, is a much-needed and easy way for people to do good in their communities. 

How to make it work for any organization

→ If your nonprofit is not centered around caring for people, you can still find ways to attract volunteers who love to organize social events, in-person or virtual. Get your community together with an open mic or quiz night and charge an entry fee to turn your event into a fundraiser!

🥫 Helping to provide people in need with basic necessities

This kind of volunteer work can mean everything from preparing meals at a local soup kitchen, sorting and delivering donations to and from a foodbank, to packing and distributing essentials for personal hygiene.

How to make it work for any organization

→ Here too, you can use this type of volunteering enthusiasm for fundraisers, for example by hosting a dinner prepared with donations and prepared by volunteers. You can also call on supporters to pack specific donation kits for your charity work, like when the company BNP Paribas assembled “Play and Learn carts” for Save the children.

What makes Field Volunteering attractive for volunteers 

In many types of field volunteering activities, the participants can see the effects of their work and contributions right away. They can see the difference between before and after a clean-up, the happy faces at the social center, or the filled stomachs in a soup kitchen. 

How to recruit volunteers for field volunteering 

Offer group activities for corporates

Field volunteering activities like clean-ups or sorting donations in food banks don’t require many skills but they do require many helping hands. To attract multiple volunteers at a time, call on corporates to use this type of volunteering as team-building activities. Especially after working remotely for a long time or when growing teams, volunteering together is a great way to strengthen bonds among colleagues.

Be clear in your calls for support

To attract the right volunteers be sure to provide enough details about the required physical fitness, capacities, desired experience, and duration of the activities, minimum and maximum number of participants, covid safety requirements, and time slots. 

Make the sign up to your activities as easy as possible

Be sure to explain how to sign up in your calls for participants and give ways of contacting you. A form on your website is a good start. Your potential supporters can let you know when they would like to volunteer and you can contact them accordingly. 

Even easier is posting calls on volunteering platforms and matching services! Individuals and companies in your area might already be a part of a network

Alaya by Benevity is a worldwide network of nonprofits and corporate volunteers.

Skills-based Volunteering

In this type of volunteering your supporters donate their professional expertise. They do so either to help you grow and improve the internal operations of your nonprofit or to directly help your beneficiaries. This type of volunteering activity works mostly independently of your organization’s actual cause.

How volunteers can share their skills with you and your beneficiaries

✍️ Translating documents 

Translating websites or documents can seem like a rather dry job, so it might not be what most people think of when they think of giving back to their communities and doing good. However, it can be of great value for beneficiaries when communications of nonprofits are available in more than one language. 

So, depending on the type of text, this can be a low effort / high value type of volunteering activity, make sure your supporters know this.

🚀 Giving marketing and/or social media support 

Having a social media presence is a must for any type of organization nowadays. However, your permanent staff or volunteers that work for your nonprofit might not have the time or understanding of different platforms to make your organization stand out. 

Luckily, curating a social media profile has become an almost natural skill for many members of the younger generation. Call on them to advise on your strategy and use their creative energy for a good cause. 

🧑‍🏫 Becoming a mentor or tutor

Sharing knowledge and helping people succeed gives people a great sense of purpose, and that is something more and more people strive for, in their professional and personal lives. 

Take advantage of this by inviting experienced professionals to support you in taking your nonprofit to the next level, for example by advising on leadership and management, or directly helping your beneficiaries in achieving their goals.

The Swiss nonprofit Capacity, for example, invites professionals from different areas to provide additional guidance in their entrepreneur programs for migrants – and happily reports that these initial sessions often lead to long-term mentorships.

What makes skills-based volunteering attractive for supporters

By sharing their skills, volunteers can develop new perspectives, apply and practice their skills, and gain valuable experience – all while giving back to the community and supporting a good cause.

How to recruit skilled volunteers for your nonprofit

Highlight what can be done remotely

Skills-based volunteering can often be done remotely. This means that your nonprofit can potentially receive support from a large pool of volunteers all over the world, all you need is a stable internet connection. And for volunteers, this also means that their participation is easier to manage among the other tasks of their daily lives.

Contact universities, schools, companies

Applying skills means getting practice and growing your expertise. So think of all the places you can recruit volunteers with a reasonable basis knowledge and an eagerness to gain experience – think of career centers at universities and schools but also corporates

Think outside the box

Consider the creative skills of your supporters. Local artists might be happy to beautify your spaces to boost morale and hobby crafters can donate handmade products to sell and have the proceeds go into financing your projects. Contact your local arts and crafts groups to collaborate with you!

Post calls on volunteering platforms

To get access to volunteers that already expressed an interest in doing good and stated their individual skills. On platforms like Alaya by Benevity, employees from corporates worldwide sign up and browse the calls for skills-based volunteering posted by the nonprofits.

We hope that this article could give you new ideas and inspiration on how to recruit volunteers. If you want to hear from volunteers themselves, browse our blog a bit more to check out some of our case studies where Alaya connected corporate volunteers and nonprofits to do good.

And if you want to learn how you can easily connect to a wide network of corporate volunteers to support your nonprofit, learn more and sign up here.

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