How to bring in new volunteers this new year

Ring in the new year with new volunteers.
Date Published
12/30/2015

With the new year approaching, many nonprofits look for fresh ways to get new volunteers in the door. Around this time, many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, take care of their families or even of themselves. Of course, only 8 percent of people keep those resolutions according to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology. Yet what if donors were told that they could use those resolutions to take care of others, to volunteer? The premise itself is promising enough to market: make a resolution to be selfless this year. How would a nonprofit successfully market the idea of volunteering during the new year? Alliance has eight fun ideas to get your New Years marketing ramped up and ready for action.

1. Use videos to gain viewers
It’s predicted that by 2017 video content will amount to 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic. That mind-boggling number means while written content is always inviting, video content is king. If your nonprofit happens to use social media or video content as part of your marketing budget, make a video emphasizing the benefits of volunteering for the new year. 

2. Utilize mediums you know donors will love
The best way to get your viewers’ attention is to use mediums you know they are personally engaged with. If a majority of your donor base is on Facebook, use content and status updates to engage your audience. If a majority of your donors love your Instagram account, convince them to ring in the new year with a hash tag directly related to your cause.

3. Make it a challenge
Just like the Ice Bucket Challenge or the Charlie Charlie challenge, everyone loves something that has a low cost to participate in and is equally fun. Try making the resolution to volunteer and donate this year a challenge by posting videos, photos and links to promotional materials across social media. To make it a challenge, make them spread the video or message with at least ten to fifteen other participants. Volunteers will be flocking to your website or signup lists to spread the good cheer.

4. Direct mail
While direct mail is always an option for your older donors, consider using it for your middle-to-young aged donors as part of a unique campaign. Many people still love the sentiment of receiving a letter, so send handwritten notes to your targeted donors. If your cause is a charity for childhood hunger, send a letter addressed from one of your satisfied children thanking them for their work so far. Give your donors a reason to donate and spread the word by passing along the letter with donations then sending it back to that child. It’s heartfelt viral video material in the making.

5. Offer personalized gifts
Incentivising programs through means such as crowdfunding can prove useful when nonprofits offer personalized gifts, according to Nonprofit Hub. Using platforms such as Kickstarter, Patreon or Indiegogo, provides your donors with prizes throughout the year for continuous volunteer work and online contributions. These could also include seasonal items. For example, during the new year, offer customized champagne glasses. In the spring, offer a jump rope with your charity name on it. In summer, a fun inner tube with your company logo.  The more they volunteer and donate online, the more prizes they earn. It’s a system that gives and gives back all at once. 

6. Phone calls
While many people ignore sales calls, leaving a voicemail never hurt anyone. Invite them to volunteer this year with your organization for a special surprise gift and the chance to give back to their community. Get imaginative with your wording and donor list – marketing is about creativity and strategy, after all!

7. Throw a bar crawl
Bar crawls take a lot of work but prove extremely successful in fundraising, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Recruiting the various bars and restaurants for participation can take a large chunk of time, but the payoff of the participation fees and T-shirts will prove helpful for your organization. To help participants continue to pledge for your cause throughout the year, offer seasonal bar crawls and emphasize participant responsibility and safety.

8. Radio broadcasting
Radio broadcasting isn’t just a thing of the past. More than ever, Web radio services such as Pandora and Spotify utilize geotargeted advertisements to lure in viewers and even potential volunteers. If advertising on these services is too expensive, try your local public radio or affiliated local radio. Many small studios are often willing to put the good word out for small businesses, including yours!

Marketing may be difficult, but getting your volunteers to ring in the new year with good deeds doesn’t have to be. Strategies such as radio broadcasting, bar crawls and direct mail campaigns can help donors get excited about your cause. With these strategies, you’ll have floods of new volunteers ready to help your organization in no time.

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