“I wish we could do that, but we don’t have the money or the staff.”


How often has someone in your nonprofit said something like that? You see great potential for a program or new technology, but the obstacles seem insurmountable.


Skills-based volunteers might be the answer to your problem.


Skills-based volunteers (SBVs), or working professionals who use their skills to help nonprofits advance their missions, create an important bridge between the workplace and nonprofits. SBVs make it possible for their employers to carry out their corporate social responsibility (CSR), and they help nonprofits make an even larger impact on the community.


But how do nonprofits recruit and retain these gold-mine volunteers, you ask? Five strategies provide a good start. 

Develop a Solid Plan

First, decide upon the goal of your skills-based volunteer program. Do you need to overhaul your IT infrastructure, design a rebranding plan, or develop infographics for a fundraiser? Define these objectives, as well as the scope of the project and the resources you will need. Craft a detailed volunteer job description, which lists the required skills, experience, and background of the right candidate, and which also describes the job responsibilities. Interested candidates will be quick to move on if the job description is too vague. Points of Light offers an excellent SBV Engagement Tool to help you determine your organization’s readiness for SBVs, and it also provides a useful worksheet to help you and your team develop a plan.

Appeal to Corporate Partners

An obvious place to begin recruiting is your corporate partner, if you have one. Your corporate partner is already committed to supporting your cause, and its employees already know about your organization. If your corporate partner has an employee volunteer program, coordinate recruitment efforts with the program’s chair. If not, contact someone from human resources, who can set up a time for you to pitch the idea to company leaders and, later, to employees themselves.

Consider Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

You might love the idea of recruiting SBVs but wonder how your small office would accommodate them. If space constraints are a problem, consider recruiting virtual volunteers. Sit down with your team and think creatively about how SBVs could perform needed duties from their own homes. Perhaps you need a grant writer – as long as you provide him with the necessary reports and information, he can perform his duties at home. Maybe you need a graphic designer – chances are, she has the program on her own computer, so you just need to communicate your vision and requirements to her. Virtual volunteer opportunities are a great way for busy professionals to leverage their skills for good, without having to commute to another location.

Engage Millennials

If you read our blog regularly, you already know that tech-savvy Millennials consider a potential employer’s CSR when applying for a job. Furthermore, the 2015 Millennial Impact Report found that 77% of Millennials want to use their professional skills for the common good. Knowing this about the most populous generation should be enough to convince you to engage Millennials where they spend a lot of time – online. Post intriguing facts, interesting statuses, and eye-catching pictures on your organization’s Facebook page. Tweet information, quotes, or questions. If something interesting or fun is going on in the office or at an event, fire up Facebook Live. Maintain an active YouTube page, with professionally made or homemade videos, and link them to Facebook. The most important rule: never let these pages go dormant!

Advertise Skills-Based Volunteer Opportunities Strategically

Recruiting SBVs isn’t as simple as posting a brief ad on Craigslist or VolunteerMatch and waiting for a flood of great applications. Once you have a well designed volunteer description, you need to advertise it in a strategic way. For example, when you post the position on VolunteerMatch.org, make sure to tag it with the desired skill(s). This will identify it as an SBV opportunity; furthermore, it will automatically mirror the ad on LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace. That means that your ad will have access to an added 10 million professionals, who want to donate their skills to a good cause. You can also post your opportunity directly onto SBV-recruitment web sites, like Catchafire or Taproot, which connect nonprofits to SBVs.


SBVs can help your organization function at higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Take the time to manage and maintain your SBV program with care, ensuring that your volunteers are happy and feel like they are making a difference. When you build a strong relationship with your SBV, you are building a strong link to their company, too, which might benefit your nonprofit financially later. 


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