Riley: Hey, have you seen the post about the Blue Marsh Lake cleaning drive on Facebook?
Rachel: No, what’s that about?
Riley: A nonprofit has planned to do a Blue Marsh Lake cleaning drive this Saturday, and they have invited everyone in the town to help them with it.
Rachel: Wow! That’s an excellent initiative. I have seen the state of the lake. It’s terrible. I will share this on my Facebook page.
Riley: I will also do it. More people should know about it.
The above is the perfect example of a problem that political and nonprofit organizations are trying to solve.
Millennials who believe and support a cause are taking action on social media. However, they are not equally active to come out and act in the real(offline) world.
90% of people in America want to volunteer, but 1 out of 4 Americans do. Volunteer recruitment is a major challenge while there’s ample opportunity to drive this.
In order to close this gap, I have curated a list of problems faced by organizations. To inspire people to take offline action.
“I don’t have enough time to volunteer”
Half of the Americans cite this reason when they were asked to volunteer.
Another similar reason as to why people don’t volunteer is that the volunteer schedules and commitments are too inflexible. Surprisingly, even retirees, who presumably have enough time, do not volunteer as much. However, the demographic between 35 to 44, who are mostly employed young parents, volunteer at slightly higher rates.
The most active volunteers are under the age of 24, and they account for 22.6% of all volunteers.
One way to solve this problem is to get the information as to when they would be free. You can run a series of Facebook polls to get the details of the people as to when they would be open to volunteer.
Use the polling results, and use your judgment to schedule volunteer activities that can accommodate the majority of your target audience(volunteers).
Since you can see the name of the people who have voted, you can contact them and encourage them to volunteer for the event. As you have organized the event according to their time, they will feel more than happy to attend the event.
As mentioned earlier, most of the people who come to volunteer are in the age group of 35-44. These are mostly people who have young children and are employed.
You can plan an event where these people can come with their families. This gets them to volunteer and also have a fun time together. This will encourage them to participate in future events.
This also improves their volunteer inertia. 75% of people who volunteer before retirement are more likely to volunteer even after retirement.
“I am not good enough”
It is one of the most common barriers that stop people from not just volunteering but taking new initiatives. Most tend to feel inferior in terms of skills, the passion that’s expected of them. This has a major impact on their confidence and deters them from participating.
They believe that volunteering is a much higher calling, and they don’t qualify for it.
As an organization, you need to debunk this stereotype. Boost confidence and make these people foresee the impact they can create.
One way to demonstrate this is by championing the achievements of existing volunteers. Your future volunteers will be able to relate to real people. It will also reinforce the trust(social proof) in your organization.
Find active members from the community/demographic you are trying to attract. Use Facebook posts to highlight people who are volunteering. You can even promote these on Facebook with their powerful demographic targeting.
You can even do Facebook live during the events, make short Facebook stories about these people, and post them on your page.
“I didn’t know about the event”
An event is either to raise awareness or get people to take an action(donate, sign a petition, etc). Hence to an organizer, event attendance always takes a front seat over event management.
This makes them more focussed on promoting the event. and not on informing(or even asking) enough people to volunteer for the event.
However, the key to a successful event starts with planned event management which largely depends on volunteers.
Every person has a reason to be motivated to volunteer. You need to find the pulse.
Use your Facebook community to drive volunteer recruitment. Create events on Facebook and share them among your followers and their peers. You can periodically update the event page and share the same on your groups/pages. To make it more visible, pin the post at the top on your Facebook group/page.
Go ahead and request your followers(or existing volunteers) to share it on their profile to reach more people in their demographic.
You can also, setup bots to engage people about this event using Facebook messenger to send event invites. Try tools like Manychat or MobileMonkey. Note that messenger marketing has an open rate of 70%.
“The roles aren’t interesting”
This reason is given by people who have attended at least one of the volunteer activities.
People sign up for volunteering, and they are excited to use their existing skills and to learn new ones. Instead, they usually end up in a corner, stuffing envelopes or similar mundane jobs.
Make them feel challenged. Create a survey and let them share their interests and skills. Better yet, get them to share what they want to do or how they wanna contribute to the cause. Including this in your volunteer recruitment activity would be a great strategy.
You may not always find a job that’s challenging for someone. In those cases, you will need to communicate how the outcome of that work impacts the end goal.
You can also pair people with similar skill sets, same locality, or know each other. This, not only makes the job less mundane, but it also breeds healthy competition.
“No one asked me to”
One out of four Americans said they don’t volunteer because no one asked them to.
Of all the research I’ve seen, across all age groups, the number one reason people volunteer is that they were asked.Sarah Jane Rehnborg, a professor of public affairs in volunteerism and board governance at the University of Texas at Austin
A study done by Gallup in the US concluded that Americans are likely to volunteer four times more when they are asked, as to when they’re not.
>> Related reading: The Most Effective Volunteer Recruitment Methods and Tools for Your Cause
Leverage Facebook’s network effect on increasing your volunteer recruitment. You can have 4-5 existing volunteers who are well-connected invite people in their connection for this event. They can share this with their peers as well.
A personal invite from someone close or even an acquaintance creates a sense of obligation. It is seen that this type of personal contact had improved response rate by 168% and attendance rate by 177%.
One such example of this took place in Australia when a waitress was fired for requesting proper compensation. She was furious with this incident and shared her story online on social media platforms, and there was a petition to get her reinstated.
It was spread in various hospitality workers groups, and also other workers started to share their experience of being mistreated. And within a day, 25,000 people had signed her petition.
This online chain of reaction gave rise to hospo Voice, Australia’s first digital union, which exclusively fights for the rights of hospitality workers.
There may be various reasons that would be holding people back from volunteering. But now you have the tools to encourage them to volunteer by addressing these common barriers using digital tools such as Facebook.