How to Engage and Recruit Volunteers in Your Community

Written by Amy Wood

Experiencing a global public health crisis has reminded us of the importance of community. Coming together to support one another in collective times of need often creates service opportunities—and the value of volunteerism has never been more necessary. Many citizens in your community are yearning to meet the moment and find a means to support their friends, family, and neighbors to build a stronger collective infrastructure and morale in the community. However, as we witness the COVID-19 pandemic remaining an ongoing threat to communities across the country, some citizens are still feeling hesitant at gathering in person for service opportunities in the community, leading to the need for local governments to prepare to take action that can engage and recruit new volunteers within the community.

If you’re working to foster a team of citizen volunteers in your community, follow the tips below to create a meaningful, sustainable program that does well by doing good.

Set Your Program Goals

Before engaging citizens and recruiting volunteers for service activities, it will be imperative to set quantitative goals to ensure a strong, steady, and consistent program that will meet its destined targets. Once you identify and set your goals, it’s time to find citizens who are all ready to serve.

Promote Volunteer Opportunities Online

Recruit community volunteers using a multi-channel marketing and advertising approach. Promote volunteer positions on your local government website, on your social media channels, and in your parks and recreation activity catalog. Exponentially increase your ability to boost sign-ups by enabling citizens to register directly online using a digital volunteer portal. Take a paid advertising approach and consider purchasing digital ads that are geo-targeted to the communities where you are looking to increase volunteer numbers. Creating enough leads through social media platforms opens the door to organic engagement and can help spearhead future relational organizing that can build the volunteer base amongst citizens.

Retain and Engage Your Volunteers

Additionally, as citizen volunteers are added to your volunteer management system, make sure to have an engagement strategy that will keep your volunteers involved and active. Whether it’s a text or e-mail reminding them of your appreciation and their role in the work, keeping your program participants active and enthusiastic is crucial.

Be Innovative

Consider methods of volunteerism that might engage and involve citizens in ways in which they have not previously been involved with the community. For example, organize a focus group to collect data for a project and frame and market it as a community service event for volunteers to share their perspectives and experiences in helping to make local government work better. The culmination of these creative service methods can encourage other citizens to look into your volunteer offerings or request other dynamic modes of engagement and involvement.

Build a Community Around Your Volunteer Program

To further engage and retain volunteers, build your program with a culture of inclusivity that makes every participant feel like a seen, valued team player. Some volunteers will simply be looking to spend time with their fellow citizens. Building community through service opportunities can serve as an impactful way to increase citizen involvement and retention. For example, consider curating monthly playlists with members of the community. Have a citizen guest-curate a list and culminate with a live-streamed listening party each month so citizens can enjoy the music they have selected. This fun project can also help develop outreach, project management, and communication skills from your citizen volunteers that can come in handy in the future.

Final Advice

Our communities have become priorities—and we know that it’ll take more than eager citizens and leaders to keep things working effectively and consistently. We have a moment to bring more citizens into the volunteer fold. So let’s get to work—and serve our communities.

If you know of a citizen or volunteer organization selflessly making a difference in your life, nominate them for the 2021 Small Town America Civic Volunteer Award. The 2021 Small Town America Civic Volunteer Award program will recognize and honor the Nation's top 100 public service and public safety volunteers from towns and counties of less than 25,000 in population. CivicPlus will provide a cash award of $20,000 to the national Small Town America Civic Volunteer Award winner, $10,000 to the first runner-up and $5,000 to the second runner-up. Nominate a local hero today.