Using Social Networks To Recruit, Retain, And Engage Volunteers (Part 1)

December 31, 1969

Welcome the first of our five-part series on recruiting, retaining, and engaging volunteers through social networking!

Personal use and organizational use—what’s the difference?

While the usefulness of social networking should be a no-brainer, using your networks to their full potential sometimes isn’t quite so easy to figure out.

Creating a personal profile page is simple, straightforward, and you have full control over what you want to say and what you don’t want to say. You don’t often have to think, “What will our readers say?” or, “Is this diluting our message?” You just post. Whoever likes it or comments on it will do so, and you don’t really think about the people who don’t.

iPad with camera next to a computer - Volunteer Global

Creating a brand for an organization though—telling your story, getting people personally interested in what you have to say, and keeping them engaged—is not a simple task. You become aware of the number of likes or the number of comments or whether your feedback was positive or negative. You become disappointed easily, and it’s often difficult to distinguish the difference and efficacy of creating a personal account versus an organizational one.

Building communities

Let’s use Facebook as our example today. Most of your friends are on Facebook, so you probably see it first and foremost as a personal social networking platform (and of course, that’s how it started out!).

But the thing is, most organizations are on it too—it’s not just a personal network anymore. It’s a community. And communities aren’t comprised just of individuals—they’re comprised of individuals, clubs, businesses, schools, government agencies, and more.

What this series will talk about

While many volunteer organizations both local and international pool their resources into recruiting people for their programs, they fall flat in retaining them and keeping their alumni engaged. In my previous work with one of the largest international volunteer organizations in the world, I saw this firsthand—and it’s one of the reasons I quit my job to dedicate my time to Volunteer Global.

In the next four articles in this series, I’ll talk in depth about how you can use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to recruit dedicated volunteers, connect your current ones, and keep your alumni engaged and inspired long after they’ve completed their project.

Because if you’re operating a volunteer organization, then you know full well the importance of your volunteers and the great work they do. It’s time to communicate that to them, because the truth is, many of them just don’t feel appreciated.

I know that you love your volunteers and their many contributions to your program. Now let’s tell them, too!

Stay tuned on August 6, 13, 20, and 27 to learn more. In the meantime, share your best practices in social networking below!

Photo courtesy of Yukata Tsutano.