Recruiting Volunteers – Suggestions From Our Members

August 14, 2017
Post: Recruiting Volunteers – Suggestions From Our Members

Last month we asked you for ideas and suggestions on how you find and recruit new volunteers. Here are some of the suggestions we received. Please continue to let us know how you are doing in your efforts to recruit volunteers!

  • My program recruits volunteers by using a comprehensive approach. We speak to as many groups as possible to educate the community about the problem of low literacy adults and how our volunteer tutors change their lives. It is always good if you can have a newspaper story or two as well. In our experience, people seldom volunteer after immediately hearing or reading about us but it plants a seed that pays off in the future.

    Next, we have an open house inviting the public to further explain tutoring and we show them our facility and resources. We don’t make a direct ask at this event but invite them to contact us if they want to become involved. We try to keep this low pressure to ensure that the volunteers really are ready to make a commitment to our program and students.

    Finally, we use social media for specific asks for specific students occasionally. We might say, “Jake needs help to increase his reading ability. He has his own lawn mowing business but needs help with vocabulary and comprehension. If you want to be the one to help Jake call our office today.” We don’t do this very often but it has been successful. You just need a social media strategy that builds your audience and keeps them engaged so your message reaches their news-feed.

  • Our book sale provides volunteer opportunities for those who want to help but cannot make that commitment. It also allows younger people to volunteer for a two-hour shift selling books for us in the mall. It exposes us to many potential volunteers and students for the weekend we are at the mall.
  • “Find a local employer who has a vested interest in your community and seek them out. ” Many businesses encourage their employees to volunteer in their community. Reach out to local businesses to find out if they have employees that would be interested in volunteering as tutors or at your special events.
  • READ LaPorte County, Inc. recently held a tutor roundtable to discuss tips, joys, and stories about tutoring. They provided refreshments and free books for tutors of adults.
  • is a valuable resource that can help you find volunteers in your area. The site offers a variety of tools and services to help you recruit new volunteers and manage volunteers and prospects. You’ll also find webinars, training videos, and a variety of books and resources.
  • Contact local retired teacher organizations, local universities and local churches. Sometimes, churches will refer parishioners who are retired teachers to volunteering opportunities in the community.

Lastly, here are several Creative Suggestions on How to Recruit Volunteers:

  1. Donate adult books with a bookplate/inscription for the literacy program/volunteer, to the public library.
  2. Place upcoming tutor trainings in the events column of your local newspapers.
  3. Put up a display at the local farmers market.
  4. Have “a general interest workshop” (i.e. birdhouse building) and recruit volunteers from among the participants.
  5. Set up an information table at the mall.
  6. Enlist the support of the mayor and council members.
  7. Place a ‘Thank You” advertisement in the local newspaper’s volunteer section.
  8. Rent a portable sign and have it placed on a major intersection.
  9. Advertise in the newsletters of local retirement communities.
  10. Place help wanted ads at the local community college.
  11. Participate in college job fairs.
  12. Blend traditional face-to-face workshops with online opportunities so that ongoing training is available to volunteers without overtaxing staff.
  13. Distribute flyers at major bookstores.
  14. Design a special tutor recruitment insert to be added to the city water bills one month.
  15. Advertise in your city’s community calendar e-mails.
  16. Partner with a 4-H group to provide literacy information and training to its members or with older Girl Scouts.

Sources: Florida Literacy Coalition, Community Literacy of Ontario, The ABCs of Volunteer Recruitment, ProLiteracy, Reducing Waiting Lists.

Our original blog post “How Do You Recruit Volunteers” also contains valuable suggestions on recruiting literacy volunteers. Re-read it here, and as always, feel free to contact us with comments.

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