Get those who used the service involved

Nonprofit managers can be very creative when recruiting volunteers. But many still find themselves struggling to find people willing to lend a hand.

Susan J. Ellis, founder of Energize, Inc., in Philadelphia, suggests that many organizations overlook a potentially valuable source of volunteer enlistment, those people who have experienced some kind of direct contact with the services that are offered.

Ellis wrote that both current and former clients can be approached because they have an inside perspective on just what a particular organization can do for those it helps. She considers the following categories to be especially worth investigating:

  • Self-help. Examples of this include:
  • Chemotherapy patients organizing their own car pools and shared support
  • Teen-aged students tutoring younger students
  • Residents in a home for severe disabilities forming a program committee for special events
  • Seniors at a nutrition center helping set up tables and clean up afterward.
  • Vested-interest volunteers. This includes friends and family members of clients, who often feel directly affected by the services an organization offers.
  • Neighbors. People who live or work close to a nonprofit can share a commitment to what happens in their own back yard.
  • Alumni. Those who have received services might like the opportunity to express their appreciation for the help they received.