Developing Effective Volunteer Programs: Recruit, Retain, Recognize

In the world of community engagement, volunteer management is the cornerstone for success, and mastering the 3Rs—Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition—is transformative when developing a robust volunteer program.

Whether you're new to volunteer management or have been in the game for a while, mastering the 3Rs—Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, and Recognition—is our number one tip for cultivating an engaged community of volunteers and donors.


Volunteer Recruitment:

Volunteer recruitment looks different for every organization based on its mission, vision, needs, types of volunteer opportunities, and more. Before starting the recruitment process, it can be extremely helpful to define who your ideal volunteer is. Are they experienced in administrative work? Are they experienced working with the population you serve? How much free time do they have, etc.?

After you have identified your ideal volunteer, it's time to recruit! Volunteer recruitment is the cornerstone of any successful volunteer program. It allows you to connect with diverse and passionate individuals, but finding those individuals can be challenging. 

Using your ideal volunteer, identify recruitment techniques that will help you find them. For instance, maybe your ideal volunteer is someone in high school or college and looking to get involved in the community. A volunteer or career fair would be a great place to recruit new volunteers for your organization. 



Pro tip: GivePulse surveyed volunteer managers about their most effective recruitment means and found that volunteer fairs, community events, corporate events, etc., were the top ways organizations were able to connect with the community. Leveraging platforms like GivePulse that have built-in volunteer recruitment features like affiliations, messaging and communication tools, and direct posting to social media to promote your event can help add that extra boost to your efforts.


Volunteer Retention:

After recruiting a team of volunteers, the focus shifts to retaining their commitment over time. Retention and the 3rd R, Recognition, really go hand in hand. Retaining volunteers involves collecting volunteer feedback, adjusting your current events and programming to align with feedback you have recieved  and recognizing them for what they bring to your organization. 

GivePulse's platform provides tools to facilitate ongoing engagement and communication. It allows you to establish a sense of community by creating discussion forums, sharing updates, and acknowledging volunteers' contributions through personalized messaging. Scheduling tools make it easy for volunteers to sign up for future events, fostering a sense of continuity and commitment.


Pro Tip: Regularly surveying volunteers after opportunities is one of the best ways to understand where your programs are resonating with volunteers. Look for areas to improve your programs and ask how you can align thems with volunteer interest and passion. Leverage GivePulse Surveys and Impact Questions to automatically send customized questions after a volunteer shift. 


Volunteer Recognition:

Although recognition is technically the end of the cycle, it is also the beginning! Recognition can help you recruit new volunteers by encouraging current volunteers to bring their friends and family to support your organization. Regognition supports retention efforts by showing that their time, talent, and treasure are valuable to your organization, and through celebrating their achievements and dedication. 

Recognizing and appreciating volunteers' efforts is essential for maintaining enthusiasm and loyalty. GivePulse offers various tools to celebrate and acknowledge volunteers. Consider hosting virtual or in-person recognition events using the platform's event management features. Create custom badges and certificates to highlight individual achievements and milestones and showcase their impact on the community.


Using the 3Rs for Successful Volunteer Management

Mastering the 3Rs is crucial for the success of any volunteer program. Efficient recruitment ensures a diverse and passionate pool of volunteers. Retention builds a committed and reliable team, while recognition boosts morale and encourages ongoing involvement. GivePulse, as a comprehensive volunteer management platform, aligns seamlessly with the principles of the 3Rs, empowering organizations to focus on their mission while enhancing the volunteer experience and overall community engagement.



About GivePulse

GivePulse's mission is to enable everyone in the world to participate and engage in lifting their community to new heights. We do so by providing a platform to list, find, organize and measure the impact of service-learning, community engagement, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and volunteerism.

Founded in 2012 in Austin, Texas, GivePulse works with 650,000+ groups, including colleges and universities, nonprofits, businesses, K-12/school districts and cities and municipalities. Together, we connect millions of people in an effort to create positive social change.

Start making a difference today by visiting Or schedule a call with our team.