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A Guide to Recruiting Volunteers for your Nonprofit

March 15, 2022

This guide will help you discover the best practices to follow when implementing a volunteer strategy in your nonprofit organization.

Volunteer work is an essential resource for nonprofits. Many organizations rely on volunteers to assist with special events, community service activities or daily operations which their paid staff need help to carry out. However, recruiting, organizing, and supervising volunteers requires a solid action plan.

Whether your organization is looking to streamline its volunteer network, bring on new volunteers, or is simply weighing the pros and cons of volunteer versus paid staff, this guide will help you discover the best practices to follow when implementing a volunteer strategy.

Simply put, a volunteer is someone who performs a task for an organization without compensation. This commitment is accessible to anyone willing to invest the time and energy to help an organization. It is essential for nonprofits to clearly define the profile they are looking for before embarking on the recruitment process. Generally, a volunteer’s obligations are listed in a volunteer contract or agreement. These obligations include:

  • Respect for internal rules and ethics
  • Collaboration with other volunteers and staff
  • Attendance and participation in meetings
  • Involvement in running activities
  • Provision of notice in case they can’t carry out an assignment or be attend a scheduled activity

Since volunteers are not employees of the organization, they are not subject to rules protecting workers. This includes limits on working hours, activity reports, orders and instructions. 

What are the responsibilities of the nonprofit to its volunteers?

While volunteers pledge to carry out certain responsibilities, organizations also have responsibilities on behalf of their volunteers. First and foremost, organizations have a duty to ensure the wellbeing and safety of their volunteers. A component of this is ensuring that, in the event of misconduct or an accident, both the organization and other volunteers will be protected from all damages. Liability insurance ensures the former, while organizations like CNESST help cover the costs of the latter. It is important to note that new members do not automatically benefit from this protection, and it is up to organizations to register their volunteers and pay the related fees. 

What do I need to know about the volunteer agreement?

A volunteer contract is a written document, signed by the volunteer at the time of recruitment. This document defines the conditions under which the volunteer will work. In concrete terms, the volunteer contract contains several mandatory items, namely

  • The hours and places of work
  • The general tasks of the person hired
  • The missions, responsibilities and activities of the volunteer
  • The terms and conditions for breaking the contract (form and notice period)

In addition to the obligations of each volunteer, the clauses of the contract also inform the obligations of the nonprofit. These include information about the organization and its cause, necessary training and onboarding, and reimbursement for expenses incurred on the organization’s behalf. 

Determine your Organization’s Needs

Before recruiting volunteers, it can be helpful to create a strategy. Ideally, the strategy will focus on finding the right volunteers and ensuring the success of the organization. 

First, consider the needs of your organization. You want the volunteers you recruit to be aligned with the organization’s mission and activities. Think about the activities they will assist with, the required workload, the number of volunteers required, and the staff in charge of supervising volunteer activity. 

Then, create a clear description of the desired skills and experience. This includes the duration and location of the activity, the tasks and responsibilities your volunteers will help with, and your ideal volunteer profile. 

Finally, it’s always a good idea to explain the values and achievements of the organization in order to give potential volunteers a clear picture of what they’ll do and who they’ll help.

How to recruit volunteers for your nonprofit organization 

Once the needs have been identified and the position description created, the next step is to start the recruitment process! Communications can be done via the organization’s website, blog, social media, and networking platforms. Volunteer action centres and associations for social and professional integration can also be great places to post a listing. 

After the selection of new volunteers, the organization must train and supervise their new recruits. In addition to helping them carry out their responsibilities, this also helps them learn about the organization, take initiatives, and creates loyalty to the organization. At the end of their training, volunteers should know the tasks assigned to them as well as the organization’s rules and procedures. 

When recruiting new volunteers, your organization may have to collect personal information such as background checks, emergency contact information, personal address etc. In all cases, the organization has a duty to protect this information on behalf of their volunteers. 

Once the volunteers have gone through training and orientation, they should be ready to start helping out. Congratulations! You’ve just recruited and trained your first new volunteers. 

Get started today and create your own online volunteer posting by creating your Zeffy account.

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