Many people are eager to volunteer, but how do they find the program or opportunity that is just right for them? A variety of online recruitment systems are available to help future volunteers connect with nonprofits and national service. It’s up to each individual organization to make sure their volunteer opportunities are easy to find and adequately described so that prospective volunteers can identify opportunities that are the right fit.
Some popular online recruitment systems include Serve.gov, VolunteerMatch, SERVEnet, and Idealist.org.
VolunteerMatch is a national nonprofit that offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer, and business leaders committed to civic engagement. The popular service welcomes millions of visitors each year and has become a recruiting tool for more than 65,000 nonprofit organizations. Visitors to the award-winning website can find volunteer opportunities by location, interest area, and/or keywords. So be sure to list not only your organization's basic information, but also specific descriptions of ongoing volunteer opportunities.
Launched in 1996, Servenet.org — a project of Youth Service America — is a website that enables millions of youth volunteers to connect with local nonprofits to make a difference in communities across the nation. In 2000, as part of Global Youth Service Day, Servenet.org expanded to become a global resource for the 3.5 million young people in 155 countries around the world that participate in Global and National Youth Service Day.
Visitors can search for volunteer service opportunities by location, interests, or skills. The website integrates advanced web-based social networking tools such as shared news feeds, real-time e-mail news alerts, and mobile messaging. It also features searchable user profile pages, issue-related groups, widgets, maps, and free self-service websites for nonprofit organizations.
At Servenet, within two to three business days, you can create a profile for your organization where you can post volunteer opportunities and events, job announcements, and more. Be sure to click on all of the tabs when creating your profile — events without specified dates, locations, and contact information will not show up in search results.
Idealist is a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. Idealist is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas and locate opportunities and supporters.
At Idealist you can find people, organizations, groups, jobs, volunteer opportunities, and events; sign up to receive daily alerts with new opportunities matching your interests; create a personal profile to network with other Idealists; invite friends and colleagues to join in; read the Idealist blog, listen to podcasts or get an RSS feed of any search result on the site; list your organization and post opportunities, program information, events, and more; find or start an Idealist Group to connect with others; display content from Idealist on your website; learn about community action, nonprofits, and more in the resource centers; and attend nonprofit and graduate school fairs.
Together with local Volunteer Centers, 1-800-Volunteer.org is a powerful service that enables you to expand your organization’s recruiting efforts and easily manage your volunteers. The 1-800-Volunteer.org website helps organizations recruit and engage volunteers, communicate with the public, and meet the complex needs of stakeholders. Key features include:
- Recruitment: Leveraging the national reach of 1-800-Volunteer.org and your Volunteer Center's 1-800-Volunteer.org portal is a powerful way to recruit volunteers for opportunities, events, and emergency response needs.
- Referrals: Manage volunteer schedules and automatically communicate with your volunteers through custom e-mails and reminders.
- Record of service hours and recognition: Verify volunteer service hours so you can recognize volunteers who made significant contributions to help achieve your mission.
- Skills-based volunteering: Search for volunteers by skills and match them to opportunities.
- Reporting: Demonstrate the effect your organization has had on addressing and solving the needs of your local community and show how volunteers contributed to those results.
- Disaster response: After a disaster strikes, register and assign volunteers based on their skills and availability.
- Bilingual service: Post opportunities in Spanish to recruit Spanish speaking volunteers.
- Technical assistance: Your local Volunteer Center can help you get started and provide ongoing technical assistance as you use the system.
GuideStar gathers and publicizes information about nonprofit organizations. Primarily a service for philanthropies looking to donate money, Guidestar also lists volunteer opportunities through a well-maintained database of hundreds of thousands nonprofit organizations — combining data from several sources for accuracy and credibility. Keeping your information updated moves you to the top of the list, and a link to your website allows people to learn more about your program.
Community networks and other local websites often have areas for posting volunteer opportunities. You can find some of them on this community networks page. Also ask your local Internet service provider to recommend the best community website for your town, city, or state. Some other ideas include:
- Find out if local print publications have online components; if so, would they feature your volunteer opportunities there.
- Local churches and senior centers may have websites and be willing to list your volunteer opportunities.
- Do your own brainstorming: What other local organizations might be list or publicize your opportunities?
Some skills to develop if you don't already have them:
- Finding appropriate websites
- Finding a webmaster's e-mail on a web page
- Providing information in appropriate electronic format (text-only or HTML)