November 7, 2017

How to Recruit Volunteers for Your School Fundraiser


How to Recruit Volunteers for Your School Fundraiser

The best school fundraising ideas likely won’t go far if you are unable to tap into a critical resource: recruit volunteers. They are the people who put in valuable time and effort to make school fundraisers a success. Often, they are also busy people. When they’re not driving one child to soccer practice, they may be taking another to piano lessons or trying to carve out time to visit parents or have a date night.

Potential volunteers already have a lot on their plates, so recruiting them can be challenging. Fortunately, this can become an asset if you look at it from the right perspective. It enables you to narrow your focus and quickly identify what’s important to volunteers, as well as what will entice them to help. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to recruit volunteers for your school fundraiser. 

Identify Potential Volunteers

Before you ask people to help with high school fundraising ideas, identify your volunteer pool. After all, you’re more likely to be successful with recruiting if you don’t randomly target people to volunteer.

Some groups of potential volunteers are fairly easy to identify. For example, if it’s the high school soccer team having a fundraiser, then team parents and relatives are one possible volunteer resource. The same goes for the players themselves and their friends.

Expand your scope to find more volunteers, and things can get trickier — but it can also be more fun. Look to school, business and community leaders who can help champion your cause and who have something they can get in return. Suppose your fundraiser will be a “pets with Santa” photo shoot. This scenario creates a lot of opportunities for a diverse set of volunteers. You could ask photographers, website designers, camera stores, pet stores, caterers, holiday stores and decorators to volunteer their services, for example.

The bottom line is that all school fundraising ideas come with many natural tie-ins for a wide set of volunteers. Include the community outside of the school, and you should be able to identify a nice pool of people who can help.

How to Recruit Volunteers

Now that you’ve pinpointed several pools of volunteers, the next step is recruiting them.

For the Parents/Relatives/Students Group

Provide several opportunities for volunteering. As you know, not all families have the same availabilities or financial resources. One of the worst things that can happen is for a family to be made to feel guilty when it cannot help but wants to. By providing multiple avenues to volunteer, you increase the chances of a family finding an opportunity that fits its logistics.

However, this may require you to slightly redefine how you term “volunteer.” The image that springs to mind could be someone showing up to supervise a booth for an all-day event. However, it could also be a family that “volunteers” to support high school fundraising ideas by buying or sponsoring yard signs related to the event. In this case, it is money and space (the yard) that is being volunteered, but the help is just as important.

You can ask this group to contribute time, a donation or space/a service. For example, a parent who owns a pizza restaurant could hold events there for school fundraisers. For volunteers donating their time, acknowledge in your requests that these families are already busy but that they stand to gain benefits such as:

  • A day of fun with their child(ren)
  • A sense of pride in the school/team/community
  • The chance to get to know school personnel better in a relaxed environment

For the Business and Community Leaders Group

This group frequently does not have a “direct” connection to the fundraiser, such as a child who goes to the school or who plays on the team. However, recruiting people in this group can still be relatively simple and fun. One thing to do is to identify a need they may have. Quality photographers who have not been in business that long may be trying to reach more potential clients. What better way to do that than to volunteer their time at a photoshoot? Similarly, if a pet store opens up its doors for an event, it will attract a lot of people who might not otherwise check their store out. For a silent auction going on in the same space, you could ask various businesses to donate wares to increase consumer awareness of them.

So when you recruit, it’s important to explain to these people what they stand to gain from participating in the event. Like individual volunteers, they have limited time and resources, so simplifying/streamlining their options will make life easier for them. Spell out what the cause is, why it is important and what exactly would be expected from them. Perhaps it has a history of community giving or is popular with the target audience, giving it good potential to be popular.

A common approach to recruit volunteers is to send a letter or an email. Always be sure you know who you’re addressing correspondence to. Personalized greetings are warmer than a generic “Hello” or “To whom it may concern.” It can also be effective to call or to make an appointment to meet in person. Whatever route you choose, provide as much information up front for the people to peruse at their own pace so that they don’t have to reach out to you repeatedly to get questions answered.

Take The Time

School fundraisers are only as good as the efforts of their volunteers. It’s worth spending the time identifying good potential volunteers and then recruiting them. Expand the definitions of what it means to “volunteer,” give options and explain what’s in it for them, and you should be in good shape.

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