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Volunteer Engagement

Ideas to Inspire

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Volunteer engagement is about finding AND keeping your volunteers for as long as you are both getting something valuable from the experience. In this section, you’ll find info on how to find volunteers that are the right fit for your non-profit and make sure they become and stay your biggest fans.



Create a Volunteer Engagement Strategy

If you build it, they will come… Actually, not really. You have to get out there and get them! Developing a robust Volunteer Engagement Strategy is an excellent way to promote your agency, develop a loyal group of raving fans and ambassadors, and ultimately have a greater impact on the communities you serve. 

Re-Engage Current Volunteers

Sometimes redirecting or repurposing the talent you already have is a powerful way to re-engage your current volunteers. Do you have volunteers in your organization who may want to try something new or have more to offer? Find out what they like to do, what skills they have and how THEY think they can help! You can do this with a survey or even better, by having a one to one conversation. Everyone likes personal attention and it is time well spent.

Show Volunteers How They’ll Help

When you create a new call for volunteers, couch it within the story of your organization. Be sure that the description includes how their time and contribution will impact the work you do. It’s important that every opportunity you offer shows how they will help make the world a better place.

To create a great impact statement for every opportunity, answer the following questions in one sentence:

Who will the opportunity be helping?

How will the opportunity make a difference in their lives?

This impact statement can be uploaded to Spark to help you promote your opportunities but can also be utilized in the recruitment, retention and recognition of your volunteers. No matter what their reasons for volunteering are, your volunteers will feel more a part of your organization if they understand how they have help your organization and the community you serve.


In your marketing, you may want to avoid using language that makes your volunteer opportunities sound more like ‘work’ or a ‘job’.  Volunteering is special because it is a gift of time and enthusiasm. Make sure that shines through!

Tell a Great Story

Storytelling is a powerful way to help your potential volunteers see the impact they’ll make by spending their time with you. People are wired for stories and respond to them in ways that are hard to achieve through other means. If you can make people feel something when they read a story about your organization, they will remember you.

You can tell your organization’s story through a blog post, a photo-story series on Instagram, a video, a post on Facebook, or any other means of communication. You can even tell stories in 140 characters ;-)

Here are the basics of telling a story:

Beginning: What is the situation? Who is involved? Give a bit of detail to personalize but not so much that anyone can be identified.

Middle: What problem is occurring? How is/was the individual, group or your organization in need of help? Describe the needs of those involved.

End: What solution will the volunteer’s help bring to the situation? How will life change if they get involved and offer their time and talent? Share the outcome.

Call to Action: Tell the potential volunteer what to do next. Be clear about who they can contact to get involved and make it as simple as possible for them to make that important first contact with your organization.

And don’t forget to share your story HERE

Promote Your Opportunities

So, you know exactly how volunteers make a difference AND you can tell a great story. Now what? There are lots of effective and affordable ways to get the word out:

  • Contact local clubs or groups in your community and request time during their next meeting to deliver a short presentation. Tell your story. (Don’t forget the call to action!)
  • Your current volunteers are your best ambassadors. Ask them to help share your story and your need for volunteers far and wide within their own networks.  They can speak from experience about how great it is to volunteer with your organization. It’s also another way for your current volunteers to engage with you.
  • Think of the ideal volunteer for the role and research and where they might engage. Are they on Facebook, Linked In or Instagram? Create a post and make sure it’s shareable. Do they visit the library? Leave a story and call to action on the library notice board.
  • Your local volunteer centre can help. Some have walk in services and others provide services online. Find your local volunteer centre here http://ovcn.ca/map
  • Share it on Spark! Load up your impact statement, your opportunity description and your stories here. We will help people find you through our search and by showcasing your stories.
Meet Bonnie Blain - Hospice Muskoka Volunteer & Ontario Senior of the Year Award Receipient

Your Stories

Meet Bonnie Blain a volunteer with Hospice Muskoka who was raised in Muskoka and who has many interes...

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Download this free volunteer engagement assessment tool and learn about new ways to amp up your volunteer program!

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Want to brush up on your social media skills? Check out this free toolkit designed specifically for nonprofits and charities!

When interviewing potential volunteers, how do you transform their interest into committment? Get some tips from this article on Charity Village!

Want to kickstart new ways to mobilize large numbers of volunteers for your cause? Take a look at the four factors in this article that can help you succeed!

Wonder what youth REALLY think about volunteering? Check out these youth bloggers who share their experiences. 

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