College Philanthropy: Recruiting New Volunteers

College VolunteersSo, you want to start a philanthropic organization at your college or university? You’re on your way to becoming a leader on campus, but in order to be one, you’ve got to inspire others to do join you. Enter volunteers! A philanthropy project is nothing without the help and hard work of dedicated volunteers who believe in your organization’s cause. Read on for tips on how to attract those invaluable vessels of change - lovingly referred to as “vols.”


Advertising is the most important method in recruiting volunteers and getting the word out about your organization, and there is a plethora of outlets on a college campus for your voice to be heard.

Fliers: If you’re a legitimate student organization, you’ll usually need to get your advisor’s stamp of approval (literally) on the corner of your flier. So make the design first, get approval, and then print the press.

Online Groups/Fan Clubs: Use your social networking site to create a group or a fan club for the organization. Once you have some founding members, they can all join the group or fan club and help get the word out by inviting all their friends to support. Once those friends see the online fan club with the organization’s bio, they’ll want to support the cause and may become interested in volunteering!

Using Twitter: Create a Twitter account for your organization to post updates on your cause’s progress and requests for more volunteers. Later on, you can also post links to pictures of your volunteers in action for others to see what you’re all about.

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Host a Benefit Concert: This is a really fun way to get a diverse group of students to notice your cause. Hire one of your student body’s beloved music groups to play a benefit concert where all ticket sales go towards your cause. People will come for great music, and end up inspired to volunteer!

The Most Important Advertising Venue of the Year…THE ORG FAIR
A Student Organization Fair, or some variation of it, is hosted at almost every college. On this day, every established student organization will have a table set up explaining their cause to passersby in order to garner some interest and potentially volunteer commitments for their organization. This is important because any students who are ready to get involved will come to this event for that specific reason. So make awesome posters and be ready to help them sign up.

Welcome Volunteers

Once you’ve got a solid group, you’ll want to show them your appreciation. After all, your cause would not be possible without the passion of your volunteers. Here are a couple ways to show your vols some love:

Welcome Packs: Create a care package for each of your volunteers that has a welcome letter and more information about your organization’s cause. Make this letter grateful, inspirational, and encouraging. Then, choose one unifying item to hand out to your team. One idea: customized wrist bands with your organization’s mission or volunteer t-shirts.

Bonding Activities: Plan a pizza or ice cream party for all of your volunteers to come meet and get to know each other. This sense of community will enable your volunteers to work together more comfortably and confidently.

Plan a Meeting Schedule
After everyone has gotten to know each other a little better, the next step for the organization’s leaders is to plan a weekly meeting time. Create a sign up with days and times during the week and tell everyone to sign up for their most convenient one. There will probably be one or two days that work best for everyone. Consider meeting two days a week so all the volunteers will have a greater chance of making it to at least one of the meetings.

There are a lot of things to consider and plan for as you begin to create an significant student force on campus. But if you believe in your cause and empower others to do the same, you’re sure to make a big difference on campus, in the community, and maybe even around the world. Dream big!