Four Ways Nonprofits Can Use Text Messaging to Recruit Volunteers

4 Ways Nonprofits Can Use SMS Texting to Recruit Volunteers

Many nonprofits rely on volunteers to maintain day-to-day operations, provide logistical assistance at events, and drive donations. Attracting these much-needed volunteers can be challenging, so it’s critical nonprofits use multiple channels in their recruitment strategy. Adding text messaging as a channel is a must in today’s increasingly mobile-driven world.

Use Text Messaging to Drive People to Your Volunteer Sign-Up Form

Text messaging is a great way to recruit at events where people are not in front of a computer, but are sure to have their mobile phone on hand. Potential volunteers will simply text a keyword to a short phone number (e.g. Text HELPER to 72345) to receive back a text message with a link to your volunteer sign-up form. One tap and they will be at your form and ready to sign up! And if they’re not ready to sign up then and there, the link is still in their messages for use later.

Getting potential volunteers to take action is easy. Place attention getting banners with instructions in areas where people gather. Also, be sure to have one or more verbal calls-to-action — make sure your event speakers tell everyone to pull out their phones and follow the instructions on the banners. Many text messaging software providers like TextMarks will not only help you get the texting program set up, they’ll help you with crafting effective instructions as well.

Keep People Updated with Text Messages About Current Volunteer Opportunities

As nonprofit managers know, identifying potential volunteers is just the first step. After that, you need to match them with roles that are a good fit for their skills and schedules. Text message notifications are a great way to keep people updated about available opportunities for which they might be a good fit. For instance, if you have an upcoming event and need logistical workers, send a text alerting potential volunteers to your needs, then watch the responses roll in. 

You’ll want to be sure to ask every potential volunteer to subscribe to receive your text messages. It’s easy to do. They will just text a keyword to a short phone number. Add instructions for how to join your text messaging list in emails, bring it up at all events, and don’t forget to add it to your website. Ask your text messaging provider for assistance with how to best promote your text messaging program.

Run a Recruitment Contest with Your Current Volunteers Via Text

Your current volunteers have friends, family, and co-workers that may be interested in volunteering as well. Also, your current volunteers already believe in your cause, so recruiting them to recruit others is a no brainer. To make it interesting, you can run a contest via text to see who can bring in the most new volunteers. 

To do this, assign a unique keyword/code to each “recruiter.” New recruits will text in the unique keyword/codes to a short phone number, allowing you to track engagement and identify who is making the biggest impact on recruitment. You’ll want to provide your recruiters with distributable instructions for texting in. Business cards and flyers work great for this.

Use Text Messaging to Capture Recruiting Insights from Current Volunteers

Your current volunteers are a source of valuable information. Surveying them to find out more about their experience volunteering for your organization can help inform your recruiting strategy. But, it’s sometimes difficult to get people to complete surveys. This is where text messaging can be very helpful.

Group text messaging is a great way to drive your volunteers to take action. We all have our phones nearby and a quick call to action sent via text will likely be read within 90 seconds — as opposed to email which is hit and miss. Include the survey url directly in your text and the input of your volunteers is just a tap away. For a super successful survey campaign, read our best practices for using urls in text messages.

This article gives some examples of how you can recruit volunteers using text messaging, but text messaging is also a great tool for quickly communicating with your volunteer staff during events and for day-to-day schedule coverage. Read how Bike MS South Florida Chapter used text messaging to coordinate and communicate in real time during its annual Bike MS: Breakaway to Key Largo cycling event.

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