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Building back your volunteer base

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has dragged on for more than a year, you may have lost a number of the volunteers who make it possible for you to carry out your mission. Volunteers are the backbone of many organizations, and as life slowly returns to “normal,” you will need to either reclaim the volunteers you have lost or recruit new ones. Church Mutual works with thousands of nonprofits across the United States and has compiled this list of steps you can take to build back your network.

  1. Use Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines when creating the environment in which volunteers will work. Even though vaccines are becoming available to more and more Americans, potential volunteers are still wary about the risks associated with donating their time. Until the country reaches herd immunity, many of them will want to see protective measures in place, such as masking, social distancing and rigorous sanitation procedures.
  2. Connect with local houses of worship when recruiting. There could be dozens of people in your community who are itching for an opportunity to serve, but they don’t know where they are most needed. Houses of worship are a good place to start when spreading the word that you could use more volunteers. Many people turn to their faith community when they are seeking places to volunteer.
  3. Rely on social media. During the pandemic, many people have turned to social media when looking for ways in which they can help. In some areas, special Facebook groups have emerged that focus on doing good in the world during a difficult time. If you are not already aware of those groups, ask around—someone in your network likely will have some knowledge of ways to reach large groups of people via social media.
  4. Consider investing in volunteer management software. If you haven’t done so already, this type of software is a great way to make recruitment, training and scheduling easy. It allows you to track former and current volunteers’ preferences and interests so you can send targeted emails when you need a specific type of volunteer. In our increasingly digital world, potential volunteers are more likely to follow through with mandatory training when they can access it online.

If you have experienced a significant downturn in volunteers, do not despair: Every day, people are becoming more hopeful about the future and considering ways in which they can help changes the world. You just need to be loud enough with your message to reach the people who want to hear it. For more advice about navigating the nonprofit world during and after the pandemic, visit