How to Use Social Media to Engage and Recruit Nonprofit Volunteers

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Americans love to volunteer. According to New York University, volunteering in America is on the rise. This is good news for nonprofits looking for willing and able bodies to promote change in their communities and around the world.

Thanks to social media and the giant networks that exist on these platforms, your nonprofit can now reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of these potential volunteers.

Using social media marketing software and a few techniques that I’ve listed below, you’ll be able to fill your volunteer openings more efficiently. Here’s how your nonprofit can use social media to engage and recruit potential donors.

1. Don’t hide your sign-up links

People can’t help your organization if they can’t find the sign-up page. If someone stumbles onto your social media content, they should immediately see a link to join in.

Create a volunteering call-to-action post via Facebook

Don’t just share the link by itself, however. Unless you have compelling images on your volunteer signup page which will render on links when posting to social media, you should always include an image with your post.

According to Hubspot, Facebook posts with images receive 2.3 times more engagement than those without and tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without.

Show a current volunteer in action to recruit new volunteers via Twitter

Images of current projects or volunteers in action will draw in people’s eyes. According to New Neuromarketing, smiling faces elicit consumer joy when used in sales ads. If it works for consumer advertising, it can work for recruiting too.

2. Show off your current projects

A great way to show people what to expect if they join up with your cause is to post regular updates on current volunteer projects.

Take the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. They recently posted a video on their Facebook page about the work they are doing across Rakhine State in Myanmar. Their volunteers are helping provide support for those fleeing their homes, including providing health services, blankets, water, and food.

Video post showing volunteer work success via Facebook

Showing appreciation for volunteers is another way to grab people’s attention on social media, as seen below with Habitat for Humanity.

A Habitat for Humanity volunteer via Twitter

3. Give your volunteers a social media home

Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ have group features in order to bring together like-minded users. Using these features, nonprofits can bring together volunteers and potential volunteers in order to share news, coordinate efforts, and recruit new volunteers into the network.

Facebook nonprofit and volunteer groups

These groups are especially helpful when there’s a new volunteer opportunity or event. Established volunteers can recruit their friends or network connections to these groups in hopes that these newly added members will join in on the efforts.

4. Don’t forget an event for them to rally around

Creating volunteer events on Facebook and making them viewable to the public increases the chance that friends of volunteers will click on the link to see what their friends are up to. I’ve personally joined many events simply because I saw a friend mark themselves as “interested” on a Facebook event.

Volunteer event listings are localized around my immediate area via Facebook

Seeing people “interested” in an event creates a fear of missing out, an old marketing tool that is still used today on social media.

Again, be sure to include links to your volunteer sign-up page on your website when posting a new event or creating new groups.

5. Invent your own hashtags (or piggyback on another)

Twitter began the trend of hashtagging in order to make ideas easier to spread, and allow people to easily find information that’s trending or that’s relevant to them. Now Facebook, Instagram, and even LinkedIn use hashtags on their platforms, making it easier than ever to get your nonprofit campaigns trending and connect with thousands of people.

You can either create your own hashtag, or piggyback off another relevant hashtag in order to draw volunteers to your cause. Holidays and significant recognition days are perfect for nonprofits to attract volunteers with themed hashtags that are either currently trending or you have yet to launch.

Currently trending hashtags via Twitter

For an in-depth guide on creating effective hashtags for marketing purposes, be sure to read this piece from Media Kix.

As for jumping on hashtag bandwagons, it’s easy to either jump on large trending hashtags that show up on the sidebar on Twitter or the search bar on Facebook. But if those large trending tags don’t suit your cause, you can use a hashtag research tool, such as or Keyhole to find the most effective tag.

Other social media guides for nonprofits

If there is one thing I am good at, it’s social media. If you enjoyed this piece, I’ve written several other social media based blog posts for the Capterra nonprofit technology blog you will find interesting. Be sure to check them out:

Looking for Nonprofit software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Nonprofit software solutions.

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About the Author

Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a Content Writer for Capterra, a free resource that matches buyers and sellers of business software. He has a background in politics, economics, and journalism, which he dedicates his off-time to contributing his thoughts to other political sites. In his free-time he enjoys reading, drawing, photography, playing guitar, writing, and cooking.


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