How to Recruit College Student Volunteers

Have you ever tried to recruit college student volunteers? Are you ready to reach out to a local university? Engage a new group of student volunteers using these volunteer recruitment tips. Enjoy the buzz and the fresh energy that these young students bring to your non-profit.

College Student Volunteers
College Student Volunteers

College students make great volunteers. If they believe in your cause, their enthusiasm and spirit can bring new meaning and urgency to your cause and mission. Their class schedules are often flexible, which means you may have volunteers to work your hard-to-fill slots. And with tech-savvy college students, you’ll be able to fire up your social media and web-related work.

So what factors do you need to consider and how do you go about recruiting college volunteers?

Think of volunteer transportation

Many college students do not have their own transportation. So you may need to find ways to provide transportation. Perhaps you could team up with an organization that can provide transport. Or if you are close to public transportation, then that would work. The key is that it doesn’t make sense to get college student volunteers, if they can’t get to you.

How to find college student volunteers

Find students at Job Fairs

There’s always students at Job Fairs. College students are looking for internships and jobs after graduation. Job Fairs are a great place for them to find and network with future employers. Sign up for a small booth at local job fairs. You’re guaranteed to meet loads of students looking for jobs. Reach out to them, remind them that volunteering looks great on their resumes. You don’t want that to be the only reason why they choose to work with you, though. 🙂  Make sure that you have a signup sheet where interested volunteers give you their email IDs and phone numbers. Give out a small give away such as pen or pencil with your organization’s name on it.

Talk to Professors about your needs

Professors often have a very good idea of their student’s skills and needs. If you are looking for a volunteers for a fund raising Marathon, talk to a Professor in the Sports Management Department and find out how to recruit volunteers. They may have physical and electronic notice boards where they can post your requirement. Or they may be willing to send out an email to all the students in the department on your behalf. You may get lucky and have professors and other faculty volunteering too.

Use the Fraternity/Sorority system

Fraternity & Sorority List
Fraternity & Sorority List

Sororities and Fraternities often look for local charities to partner with on social projects. Most sorority/fraternity websites will give you details of past projects that they’ve worked on. Find sororities/fraternities that have worked on projects similar to yours and get in touch with them. Sororities/fraternities can find you large numbers of volunteers. So if you have a high demand event, like a Marathon, this is a great source of college student volunteers.

Speak to Hobby Groups

Universities are filled with special interest groups and clubs. Whether they are programmers, culinary enthusiasts, or love to read, most groups love getting their name out in the community. Most clubs and groups are listed on the university website. Reach out to them to find volunteers specific to your projects.

Talk to Church Groups

Religion-based groups are always looking for ways to give back to the community. One simple way to recruit college student volunteers is to speak at informal church gatherings. Explain your volunteer requirements and why they should sign up. Make sure that you collect email IDs and phone numbers.

Whichever way (s) you use to find your volunteers, make sure that you get in touch with them within a week of contact. Students have multiple demands on their time and short attention spans. So you want to get them when you still have top of the mind recall.

Tap directly into what motivates students

Students are busy people, but they do indeed have time to volunteer. So think of the reasons why students volunteer. Here are a couple of easy ones – a) to gain work experience b) to have fun with their friends. So find opportunities that help students gain skills directly related to their field of study. Communicate clearly what they can hope to gain (what they can put on their resume, who they will meet and be able to network with…). If there’s a way to give credit for the volunteer hours and service, make sure that happens.

Get Social

Use your web pages and social media handles to share photos and videos about volunteering opportunities and the achievements of your student volunteers. Post before and after pictures, interviews with the volunteers. Use your tech-savvy college volunteers to set up a You Tube channel, an Instagram account, a Facebook page and any other social media accounts that you want. Partner with the college radio station or newspaper to pump up your social media community.

Give Swag

Most people like free stuff, especially young people. Give away t-shirts for example, when your volunteers complete a certain number of hours. If you don’t have the budget for it, get local businesses that appeal to the student demographic to sponsor your shirts. To widen the appeal, hold a student t-shirt design contest and use the winning design for your non-profit’s signature shirt. Get a “cool” t-shirt and it can help brand your volunteer program.

Give volunteers easy ways to sign up

Sign up on V4S Personal
Sign up on V4S Personal

Young people are busy with a million things. Give them easy ways to know when you have opportunities for them to volunteer with you. If you use Volunteers for Salesforce, you can post your Jobs and Shifts calendar on your website and allow volunteers to sign up there. With the V4S Personal, you can be on your college student’s mobile device where they are always on. You can let your student volunteers’ sign up for Jobs and Shifts directly on their mobile phones.

Volunteering is a great option for college students because it costs them only a few hours of their time. It also gives them the time to bond with other students and make lasting friendships. Use these tips to draw and engage bright, smart college student volunteers for your organization.

Checking in volunteer groups with V4S Kiosk

Checking in volunteer groups is one of the toughest things to handle for volunteer managers. Having a group of volunteers come in to volunteer together is fantastic. But tracking those new volunteers and their work time? Now that is a real challenge for you as a Volunteer Manager or Coordinator.

Multiple volunteer signup by number
Multiple volunteer signup by number

Volunteers for Salesforce gives you the functionality of adding in the number of volunteers that come as a part of a group. The point person for a group can set the total number of people in the group. This screenshot shows you how a group leader signs up a group of 20 volunteers using V4S Personal on her mobile.

But that’s really all you can record with the standard Volunteers for Salesforce data structure. The fact that the group leader is bringing in 19 other people, other than herself. There’s no way to track who the individual members of the group are. Or any of their contact information.

Extend volunteer value

For your organization, that individual volunteer data is critical. You want to be able to keep track of every volunteer that ever comes in touch with your organization. A volunteer that comes as part of a group could very likely become a repeat individual volunteer.  If you build a deeper relationship and extend communication with that volunteer, she or he could contribute to your organization by becoming more involved.

Working with group volunteers in V4S Kiosk

Based on requests and interactions with several of our V4S Kiosk customers,

Checking in group volunteers
Checking in group volunteers

we’ve now introduced a new feature to check in multiple volunteers that come in as part of a group. If the group leader comes in a little earlier than the Job / Shift start time, then she can Signup the other volunteers in her group to the specific Job / Shift. Note the

Volunteer group dropdown
Volunteer group dropdown

way that the Add multiple volunteers screen is set up in V4S Kiosk. If you have multiple volunteer groups that are coming in, you could sign up people from different groups using the same screen, by selecting the right group name for the specific volunteer that you are signing up.

If your organization requires that each volunteer sign a waiver form, you would be able to set that up. When the individual volunteer checks in to start work on the Job / Shift, she would be asked to read and sign a waiver form, right within V4S Kiosk.

Volunteer data in Salesforce

volunteer data in salesforceAll the new volunteers signed in on the V4S Kiosk get added to Volunteers as Salesforce as Contact records, with the configured Volunteer Group field updated. If so configured, the Date Waiver signed and the actual waiver signed along with the signature is stored inside Salesforce. Now you have the luxury of being able to get to all volunteer data easily and securely, right inside Salesforce.

Just imagine how much effort and time you would save with group corporate volunteers. Additionally, using the Waiver add-on would give you the ability to save effort with tracking volunteer waivers and being compliant legally. Now isn’t that something you should be checking out?

The Power of the Hub!

It was a cold and stormy night…. Nope, not the start of yet another horror story. In fact this story is the exact opposite. At 2 AM on a chilly Bangalore night, there I was typing responses into an online spreadsheet. And feeling pretty good about it. But let me start at the beginning…..

In the summer earlier this year, TJ Warfield put up a wish-list for an Event check-in tool for nonprofits on the Power of Us Hub (The Hub, as it is sometimes called, is an online community for Salesforce.org customers, certified partners and staff). Caroline Renard, who knew of our work in the mobile app space for nonprofits, brought us into the conversation. Over a lively discussion on the Hub involving multiple people, a detailed list of functionality came up. Looking at that list, it seemed to us as something we could deliver, given that we had so much of the Salesforce and mobile infrastructure already. So we took it upon ourselves to deliver an Event add-on to our V4S Kiosk product over the next couple of months. That started a hectic round of design, development and testing internally, running into September.

Come the end of September and it was Dreamforce time. And time for virtual conversations to become real. At the Amplify breakfast, I met  with TJ and Caroline and spoke about what we had done with the wish list for Events. It was truly exciting for all of us to see how a conversation in the Hub had turned into something concrete.

Back home after Dreamforce in mid-October, we connected across the world, our team in Bangalore with TJ in San Francisco and Caroline in Seattle. And we were back in the virtual world to review the Events add-on. TJ was very happy with what we showed and graciously offered to demo and test the add-on at the Salesforce.org Open Source Community Sprint, held in Portland, OR  (#SFDOsprint) in end-Oct.

We were of course thrilled with the idea, but we were also very aware of the many things that could go wrong. TJ had seen the app near-complete, but the last 10% takes 50% of project time, right? Our team in Bangalore worked pretty much round-the-clock to put together a demo org for the Sprinters to use. We made sure there was a reasonable amount of data, a clear set of instructions and other resources for the Sprinters and a shared Google spreadsheet to collect suggestions and feedback.

The Salesforce.org Community Sprints are amazing events. Participants discuss everything from best practices to general experience to solution requirements. Working in teams, participants go all the way to produce solutions with documentation, code and data models. And everything produced by the teams goes back into the Community, making the whole ecosystem better for everyone. The Portland Sprint had that same terrific energy and enthusiasm. With 130 people at the event covering the Nonprofit and Higher Education sectors, we had a large number of people trying out the Event add-on.

With our mobile app still in beta on the iTunes Store, we did some pretty hairy

Across the world on a mission for nonprofits
Working for a mission

back-and-forth using the iTunes TestFlight platform to get our friendly Sprinters in Portland on board. It was incredible seeing the Sprinters in Portland, our awake-at-midnight team in Bangalore and the Test flight platform (wherever that is hosted :)) all coming together for a good cause. Watching from across the world as multiple Sprinters installed V4S Kiosk via TestFlight was awe-inspiring, to say the least. And as suggestions and feedback came flying into the Feedback sheet from the Sprinters, it truly felt great to be typing in responses at 2 AM :).

Kudos to all the Sprinters who dedicated their own time to test and review the Events add-on, all for the cause of enriching the product range for Nonprofits. Thanks to these hard-working Sprinters, there’s now a terrific set of feedback and suggestions that we will add into the product. A product that nonprofits can use to raise money, manage volunteers and deliver education. Which goes to prove that “All for One and One for All’ is not just the Three Musketeers slogan but a way of life for a lot of people!

How to manage volunteer no-shows

You are all set for your big summer event. You’ve spent hours training your volunteers getting them up-to-speed, you’ve assigned them to shifts optimally based on their choices, you’ve even sent out email reminders to make sure that your volunteers know when and where they need to be.  Your big day turns around and some of your volunteers haven’t showed up. Sound familiar?

So how do you the Volunteer Manager pick up the pieces? Here are some strategies to help you cope.

  1. Build a buffer with Floater staff. No-shows happen despite all your efforts.
    volunteer tracking
    Managing Volunteers

    Better to buckle down and be ready for it. So you are going to need some extra bodies. Build a 10 – 15% buffer of additional volunteers into your schedule. There’s always extra work at events. So even if you have fewer no-shows, you can put your extra volunteers to good use. Monitoring deliveries and vendors, crowd control, clean-up crew – all good last minute duties for additional volunteers.

  2. Train volunteers and show them the importance of their job. Train volunteers properly and know that they are doing. They are more likely to stay engaged with your organization. Ensure that volunteers understand the importance of their job and how it affects the organization. Share stats of how much volunteer time means to the organization in dollar terms.
  3. Recognize your volunteers. Track volunteer engagement with your organization diligently. Make sure that your star volunteers are recognized. Use simple software to keep track of the hours that your volunteers spend with you. This is undoubtedly the best way to keep your volunteers coming back and working assigned shifts. You don’t need to give out big gifts. Just a simple thank you note from your Executive Director or coupons to a coffee shop should be sufficient.
  4. Make it easy for volunteers to communicate with you. Give your volunteers as many ways as possible to communicate with you. Phone calls / emails / text. Use volunteer management software that allows volunteers to Cancel / Reschedule their shifts online or on their mobiles. If it’s easy for a volunteer to Cancel on their mobile or online, they will. If they need to call someone to Cancel, they may not.
  5. Monitor check-ins. You need to be tracking who’s on site. The best way is to use technology where your volunteers can check themselves in, when they arrive. If you are using paper lists, make sure that your volunteers report to a central location where they can be checked in. That way, you can quickly scan the list and know who’s there. If it’s a large event with multi-locational check-ins, keep in touch with your supervisors to know if there are no-shows. Send your floater volunteers to however needs them the most.

The bottom-line is that paper lists and spreadsheets don’t allow for flexibility and adaptability. Use good volunteer management technology to help you adapt to situations quickly and seamlessly.