David Chirls: Promoting Volunteerism Through Social Media

In order to engage current volunteers and attract new ones, organizations need to utilize social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media platforms spread news about community engagement opportunities and can be extremely effective methods for promoting specific events and the missions of organizations. Sharing news and happenings through social media allows potential volunteers to learn about ways to help with relative anonymity. Nonprofit groups and charities are beginning to explore ways to raise funds through social media, in addition to their previous efforts to use these sites as recruiting tools.

When organizations attract volunteers through Facebook, Twitter, or similar social media networks, it is important to direct messages to people—whether students, professionals, or retirees—who can provide the particular kind of help needed. Also, an organization should be frank about the scope of the volunteer work, including the times and precise activities involved. Finally, mention some specific benefits for volunteers who choose to work with your organization, including interpersonal growth, networking, and skill development.

To begin recruiting volunteers through Facebook, your group can easily create a fan page on the site. Ask current volunteers to become fans of your page through “liking” it, and ask them to invite their friends to do the same. Specific volunteer opportunities and sign-up areas may be added to your Facebook page’s calendar. Follow up by sending individual messages to potential participants—doing so can begin a personalized conversation and confirm event attendance. Your group can generate hashtags on Twitter (for example, #volunteer) to alert followers to ways to become involved. Additionally, linking Facebook and Twitter pages to videos and photos of previous events may help define and personalize the culture of your organization.

David Chirls
is a senior advisor to Brooklyn, New York-based social media start-up Two Seed.

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