Hide and Seek: 5 Places to Seek Out Volunteers
Updated: Nov 12, 2019
I often get asked, “Where do you find your volunteers?” My answer? "They are hiding in plain sight!"
Here’s a quick list of five places where I have found them hiding:
Don’t just look in one place here. Think of schools as these mansions with multiple rooms. You have to look in each room to find what you’re looking for. Within schools are clubs and departments. I have had astounding success with Key Clubs (the junior club of Kiwanis), National Honor Societies, the Future Business Leaders of America, fraternities, sororities and other service-oriented groups within a school. The Junior ROTC program is another great find but not all schools have them. Then there’s the sports teams. With road races, you’ll find a gold mine with cross-country and track clubs because they speak your lingo and know what to do during the event.
Some churches encourage community service. You just have to know when and who to ask. They’ll say no, of course, if your event coincides with their day of service or worship. And within churches are youth groups.
If your event has a non-profit beneficiary, you have a gold mine right there. Non-profit partners are motivated to work with you and help ensure the success of your event since they will be benefitting from it. Establish a point of contact early on and work on developing some rapport with this person. Ask how many volunteers they can help you with. Offer to make things easier for this person by going the extra mile and providing a recruitment flyer or a blurb for their site or social media. Make your point person feel that you are in this together. Also, non-profits like Habitat for Humanity and the ASPCA routinely partner with events and provide volunteers, in exchange for a donation.
Some corporate entities like banks and multi-national companies pay their employees to volunteer. They often have a portal where volunteer opportunities are posted. Find a contact within who will post your event info for you. Start with your bank or the large company down the road which has headquarters near your event.
Oftentimes, in exchange for a free booth, table or the opportunity to distribute marketing materials, local businesses like gyms, sporting goods or medical practices can provide volunteers. You just have to give them a lot of lead time because they usually don’t have a lot of extra staff for this purpose, and may have to pay for overtime. Sell the idea that they can “brand” their space however way they want (think tents, tablecloths, staff in matching shirts, feather flags, etc.), in exchange for volunteers.