Key Components for Successful Volunteer Recruitment

By Meghan Maloney, L.A. Works AmeriCorps VISTA

Volunteers can prove to be a huge benefit to your organization. Aside from providing extra hands and eyes to your projects, they offer unique perspectives that can help strengthen your organization’s mission.  Here are some key components that need to be implemented to ensure successful recruitment for your volunteer program.

Identifying where exactly volunteers can contribute is one of the first steps in recruitment. Having an open dialogue with your team about incorporating a community workforce is key to building a foundation to a successful volunteer program. This conversation could include the roles volunteers can fill in, the frequency of opportunities, and the supervising staff members for the program. There will definitely be a structural change in your organization once a volunteer program is incorporated, and change can be uneasy for some. If your team is on board with recruiting volunteers, great! If some feel uneasy about the switch, then more dialogue about how your organization plans to utilize volunteers will be key. These growing pains are necessary, but will ease as you gain support in recruiting and managing volunteers in the future.

11133927_10153352650765955_2138150001715835132_oOnce you’ve identified the roles and responsibilities for your volunteers take on, you can focus on writing the catchy service opportunity descriptions to find the best match. Traditionally unpopular volunteer opportunities–but still incredibly vital–such as fundraising can sound more appealing if the job descriptions are written in an engaging way. Advertising these positions will be crucial in how your recruitment pans out. Consider this: Is your organization willing to set aside a budget for posting on websites with wide reach such as Are there any volunteer hubs (like that offer free submissions of volunteer opportunities? Do you have a strong media presence? Is the local volunteer center at a nearby university open to recruiting volunteers for you? Dedicating a “Volunteer Now!” tab on your website is also a great way to recruit, as this is the first place people will look for these opportunities. Determine where your organization would like to find volunteers, and then use those medium to assist you with recruitment.

Deciding what sort of budget to allocate to volunteers will also be an area of conversation for successful recruitment. Your volunteer budget may include items such as food, T-shirts, and the swag items. Materials needed to complete the volunteer project will also need to be factored into this budget.   Other investments to consider when proposing your volunteer budget are background checks and TB tests, especially if they will be working with youth. Your organization may not be able to cover full costs, but can partially cover some of those expenses. Additionally, your organizations may elect to refund that money back to its volunteers when they have volunteered for a specified amount of time. Ultimately, when volunteers see a marked investment in them, they will invest more into your organization.

Now that you’ve started getting some responses from interested volunteers, your organization must devote some thought into orienting the volunteers to the work at hand. Having an engaging on boarding and training curriculum in place is essential for successful recruitment. Having the volunteers understand the magnitude of their impact is key for their buy-in; they must feel that what they are doing has purpose and meaning. This includes clearly outlining the reasons for why they are volunteering, and how the opportunity will make a tangible impact. Hosting a formal orientation, followed by a detailed training of their task, is an effective  way of having the volunteers understand your organization from a broad perspective as well develop personal relationships with people on staff or other volunteers. Including an organizational chart of staff members and what they oversee will acquaint volunteers to different aspects of the organization. A handbook/manual with contact information, the mission statement, and other essential volunteer information can help the volunteer take pride in their service.

Leadership is an indispensable aspect of volunteer recruitment and retention for both skilled and general volunteers. Skill-based volunteers require more check-ins from leadership to ensure that their skills are not being manipulated as free labor. Having them feel like they are part of the larger staff is a great way for them to feel valued and appreciated for their skill-based volunteering. With general volunteers, having a staff member as their point person–even better if it’s a volunteer coordinator–shows that the organization has a more sophisticated volunteer program. General volunteers also like the comfort of knowing that they have someone to report to; that person becomes the face of the organization for them.

The final key is retention. Recruitment is only as successful as how well an organization can retain their volunteers.  Volunteer appreciations every couple of months will help them feel connected to the organization and feel like their contributions are recognized by the team. Having a database of volunteers will be the cornerstone for retention; this will be the organization’s starting point in reaching out to past volunteers. Engaging them is imperative, and can be accomplished through social media shout-outs, newsletters for upcoming events, or even mailing out personalized thank-yous. The culture surrounding volunteers will be a determining factor for recurrent volunteerism. Reflect and consider how your organization incorporates and integrates volunteers into the mission and organization.

Volunteer recruitment is normally a challenging feat. With patience, persistence, and a solid action plan, your volunteer program will soon reflect the efforts put into recruiting awesome volunteers!

For more information or resources, please check out the following blogs/links:

Volunteer Central: Recruit, Train, and Retain! 

HandsOn Network: Effective Volunteer Recruitment Strategies

World Volunteer Web: 16 Tips in Recruiting Adult Volunteers

LA’s Promise Awarded Service Enterprise Certification

We are proud to announce that LA’s Promise has been awarded Service Enterprise certification by L.A. Works. serv_enterprise_landing04a The Service Enterprise Initiative is a national program administered through Points of Light that recognizes nonprofits with exceptional volunteer programs. Nonprofits that operate as Service Enterprises more effectively address community needs and run on almost half the median budget than those nonprofits that do not leverage volunteers across all levels of the their organization.

To qualify for certification, organizations must go through a year long process that consists of attending a series of best practices workshops, creating action plans, and strategize with expert coaches from the Executive Service Corps on ways to best implement their plans.

We spoke with Caitlin Krier, Associate Director of Community Partnerships, about LA’s Promise’s journey in becoming certified.

L.A. Works:
Tell us more about LAP! How does your organization engage volunteers?

LA’s Promise:
Our mission is to graduate every student attending an LA’s Promise neighborhood school college and career ready. Through a robust school turnaround model, LA’s Promise partners with a cadre of schools committed to ensuring that students growing up in poverty receive an excellent education.

Something cool thing about LA’s Promise is that we have so many different ways for volunteers to get involved in our work. I believe in the idea that students are more likely to succeed when their schools are community hubs, and in order for that to work, we need to bring in folks from the community who are willing to share their skills, passions and resources with the students who need them. Volunteers can do everything from helping plant trees in our teaching gardens to leading workshops on post-secondary options to connecting students with internship opportunities at their companies. Since we’ve started this Service Enterprise work, we’ve been able to open up new volunteer opportunities as well, such as speaking at our middle school career day and helping secure in-kind donations for all of our school programs. We have also begun working with several university service groups to engage college students in leading activities such as college workshops and college fairs for our middle school students.

How has Service Enterprise benefited your org?

One big change has been with how we run events, especially those that fall on the weekends. Instead of begging our staff to come out and help, we are able to work with an amazing cohort of volunteers who are excited to participate and be a part of these events! Since weekends are usually better for volunteer availability, this has been a great match.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of this certification journey?

For me, the most rewarding part of the journey has been the process of self reflection and pushing ourselves to build service enterprise into everything we do. It was really cool to build a volunteer tracking and orientation plan from scratch, and to see those things be realized, especially our first volunteer orientation in February. We went from having a couple of volunteers to an entire database of people that we can call upon to help with projects and events throughout the year.

What are some tips/advice you would give other organizations that are thinking about Service Enterprise/are already going through the process?

My advice would be to not worry about your volunteer program needing to look a certain way. The self reflection piece is really key, because you’re able to hold onto the core values and vibe of your organization while enhancing it. We are never going to have 200 volunteers donating their time every week at LA’s Promise, and that’s okay! We have been creative about how volunteers can become an intricate part of who we are as an organization.

We are honored to award them with this accomplishment, and we are looking forward to seeing all the amazing work they continue to do with their volunteers!

Featured Project: Baby2Baby

Wednesdays just got better. Oh Baby.
Written by L.A. Works Volunteer Reporter Chelsea Spencely

Looking for an opportunity to give back?   IMG_6966

Every Wednesday, Baby2Baby opens their doors to volunteers to help categorize donations of toys, stuffed animals, bottles, clothing for babies to 12-yr olds, books, blankets, shoes, socks, diapers, and even maternity clothing. All donations go to the 67,000 families in Los Angeles who need help providing some of the everyday
necessities to their loved ones.

In addition to separating donations into varying categories, volunteers have the IMG_6986
opportunity to decorate gift bags for a specific client, adding a little personalization
and excitement for a child receiving a gift bag. This can go a long way. Perhaps a volunteer pairs pink shoes, a princess shirt, or even a princess wand from the bin marked “imaginative play” for a client in love with Pink!

Baby2Baby works directly with non-profit organizations like the Los Angeles Unified School district and the Department of Family Services of Los Angeles. Amanda Peterson, Warehouse Coordinator says, “Whomever needs it [the donation] big or small, these
organizations come here. Some we see three times a week, others once a month.”




The team maintains an efficient donation cycle, but there is still much work to be done to reach the five hundred thousand-plus of people in Los Angeles in need of assistance.




Check out for an opportunity to sign up for the next Give Back Wednesday
and be sure to go to for more information.


L.A. Works AmeriCorps VISTA members support nonprofit capacity building efforts

AmeriCorps VISTA members, Hazel Morales and Max Ferguson play an important role in supporting L.A. Works’ nonprofit and volunteer relationships. Their work has contributed to a transformative year of growth at L.A. Works and partnering nonprofit organizations. “L.A. Works has assisted us in identifying what volunteer positions would help to build the organizations capacity,” said Education Advocate at Legacy LA. Jeanny Marroquin. “Through L.A. Works’ publications of our organization and the available volunteer positions, our pool of volunteers has tripled.”

As the AmeriCorps VISTA Nonprofit Relations Coordinator, Hazel offers targeted volunteer engagement and management coaching to nonprofits serving low-income communities. Through her one-on-one coaching and guidance she helps build effective and sustainable volunteer programs to build volunteer capacity.

Max Ferguson is our Nonprofit Relations Coordinator for the HandsOn Tech program. HandsOn Tech is a partnership between Points of Light and Google that seeks to provide technological expertise to nonprofits by engaging pro bono volunteers, especially those experienced in online tech tools. Skilled volunteers lead workshops for groups of nonprofit professionals as well as providing one-on-one coaching to selected organizations.

Throughout the year L.A. Works has organized workshops on Google for Nonprofits, digital marketing, and web design. Corporate supporters that we have partnered with to provide workshops include Google, Treasury Boutique, Wix and General Assembly.

“The HandsOn Tech program helped us learn and understand new technological trends” shared Claudia Sandoval Marketing and Communications representative from Centro Latino for Literacy. “In an ever-increasing tech world, small organizations like ours have been faced with many tech hiccups and the HandsOn Tech workshops provided us with the resources necessary to create solutions.”

If you would like to contribute to L.A. Works’ nonprofit capacity building and become a skills based volunteer email For tech related volunteer opportunities please reach out to

Encore Performance of RODNEY KING

Rodney King x-LATsThe L.A. Works board of directors invites our L.A. Works community to a special matinee performance of Roger Guenveur Smith’s critically acclaimed RODNEY KING.

L.A. Works, the largest volunteer action center in Los Angeles was founded in 1991, the same year the late Rodney King was thrust into international prominence.

2 PM


Limited Seating    *    Reception To Follow

RSVP: 20131002,0,5802261.story#axzz2kfh42z6Y   

Benefit Performance: The End of It

L.A. Works’ esteemed board member, Ferrell Marshall, and dedicated volunteer David Youse will be starring in the world premiere of The End Of It. Paul Coates, playwright, producer and actor, has generously dobenefitperformance_1nated the proceeds from the October 17 show to L.A. Works. “We believe in the power of ‘paying it forward’ and are motivated and inspired by the impact of volunteerism. Consequently, we wanted to donate a performance of the world premiere of the new play, THE END OF IT, to celebrate the over 20 years of steadfast and generous service L.A. Works has given to our community. We can’t wait to see you all on October 17th at the theater!” shared Paul.

Tickets can be purchased online at or via phone by calling (323) 960-4418.

“Paul Coates’ “The End of It” receives a first-class, heart-stopping world premiere at the Matrix Theatre with a tour-de-force performance from Kelly Coffield Park…”

“A must-see piece of LA theater! Well done, all!”

“Coates’ script is intelligent, perceptive and sometimes funny…”

“Director Nick DeGruccio marshals his fine actors through a nearly impeccable production…”

“The audience has a communal experience that becomes very personal.”

“There is the obvious point that marriage is marriage, happy or unhappy; straight, gay, or lesbian. Yet I think Coates is reaching for something beyond that as well.”

“The acting is excellent.

“Coates writing is on-point and real. It’s a great match for Ovation Award winning director Nick DeGruccio’s staging..”

“The cast is also amazing.”

“This inter-connecting of characters is pure genius, making each line and scene have different meanings when it’s told by different actors, playing the part from a different sexual point of view.”

L.A. Works Partners with College Summit Southern California


College Summit is a national nonprofit that transforms the lives of low-income youth by developing a corps of high school students who lead their peers to and through college. Last year they served more than 4,000 students at 14 high schools across Los Angeles, and more than 50,000 nationwide in 15 states.

This past summer, volunteers gave more than 2,700 volunteering hours at the Southern California region’s Peer Leader Workshops. During these weekend-long college-going boot camps, our rising seniors become “Peer Leaders” as they gain knowledge and tools to get themselves and their friends to college. Volunteer Writing Coaches spent four days over extended weekends working with groups of four to five Peer Leaders, helping them develop their first personal statement.

“My Workshop experience with College Summit was outstanding,” said David Rowe, Graduate Admissions Operations Coordinator at California Lutheran University. “I never thought that I would learn so much from, and grow so close to these students, in such a short period of time. These students give off such a contagious energy, that each moment was filled with excitement and possibility.”

To keep the momentum going after another successful summer of workshops training 200 Peer Leaders, College Summit is planning its next volunteering opportunity: College Applications Season.

Join College Summit to work one-on-one with high school seniors, helping them fill out and submit their online college applications. Events take place at the high schools in October and November, daytime and evenings. No training is necessary.

For more information about volunteering with College Summit, email Brian Rosenbaum, Community Engagement Coordinator, at

Forest City Revitalizes LAUSD High School


On July 17th, L.A. Works collaborated with the Los Angeles branch of Forest City, an Australia-based operator and developer of real estate projects, on a school revitalization project.

Approximately 50 Forest City employees teamed up with L.A. Work staff to paint the athletic department and boys’ locker room of the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, a unique school that houses three distinct LAUSD learning communities (the Academic Leadership Community, the Social Justice Learning Community, and the Business & Tourism Learning Community) and one separate high school (the Los Angeles School of Global Studies). Athletics at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex is extremely important, because it unites students frImageom all four separate academic programs and helps reinforce a sense of community among the students.

We are glad that Forest City chose to team up with us once again for such a productive and inspiring day of service, and we thank them for all their help!

DirecTV Beautifies School Garden


On July 23rd, L.A. Works oversaw project management for a custom day of service created for DirecTV’s Los Angeles tech department on a school garden revitalization project. DirecTV employees went to the 153rd Street Elementary School Garden and added garden beds, painted the garden area/main office, and planted flowering vines on the garden fence. The School Garden is an integral part of the 153rd Elementary School, because teachers have incorporated gardening and growing into the academic curriculum. Thank you DirecTV for collaboration and dedication to the community!

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Get Down or Get Out: An Interview with Zumba Instructor, Melissa Zugell


Q: Tell us about your experience at L.A. Works Day 2013.

A: Working with L.A. Works for the “Day of Service” was a very meaningful experience where I could share my passion for health and fitness with everyone that took part in the wonderful event. Gathering everyone together to dance, and kick starting the day was an exhilarating experience I won’t soon forget!

Q: Discuss your background and passion for dance, health, and fitness.

A: Coming from a dance background, I’ve been dancing since I can remember.  Learning everything from Jazz to Slovenian Folk dance (my heritage), has led me to my truest passion for dance and fitness. Through my combined passion for dance and fitness, I’ve been able to innovate effective techniques that elevate the total experience in my fitness classes.  I believe there is nothing more wonderful than helping and watching people achieve what they thought was impossible – all while having FUN doing it! I use my energy to alleviate the “work” of working out, and infuse my heart and soul into the movements. I aim to inspire the amateur, challenge the expert, and unite all through an energetic cardio dance workout meant for everyone!

Q: Did you learn anything from our volunteers, the event itself and/or our organization?

A: I learned that L.A. Works provides wonderful team-building opportunities to impact the communities of Los Angeles, with positive and strategic community service experiences for its volunteers. They [L.A. Works] help boost the morale in team building experiences, and make volunteering fun, easy, and meaningful. I was thrilled to share Zumba Fitness at L.A. Works Day because I was able to volunteer my love of dance and fitness with an amazing group of hardworking, passionate volunteers that danced and had fun with us.  I can’t wait to do it again!