Is your organization eyeing Volunteer Month in April as an opportunity to celebrate and recruit volunteers? Putting together a month-long campaign can feel daunting, but it provides a chance to give these dedicated supporters the attention they deserve.

Of course, you don’t have to rely on a designated Global Volunteer Month (April) or National Volunteer Month (April in the U.S.) to run a volunteer-focused campaign. There’s also National Volunteer Week (U.S. and Canada) as well as International Volunteer Day on December 5.

No matter the length of your celebration, learn how to use a Volunteer Month campaign to honor volunteers and attract new ones, all the while building awareness for your nonprofit.

Crafting a Strategy for Volunteer Month

As with any marketing campaign, the earlier that you set goals the easier it becomes to map out the rest of your work and choose the tactics that will drive results. Your Volunteer Month planning should start with the following steps.

Set campaign goals

A month-long campaign might seem like an opportunity to do a little of everything, but we suggest starting with one or two complementary goals. For example:

  1. Honor past and current volunteers by showing their collective impact
  2. Increase interest in volunteering with your programs
  3. Motivate corporate sponsors to fund volunteer projects
  4. Recognize the “volunteer of the year” and their contributions

Choose calls to action

What actions do you want your audience to take during the campaign? Using the first two example goals above, your calls to action (CTAs) could include asking community members to share a personal story and signing up to volunteer through your website.

Develop key messages

To help keep your campaign on track in terms of goals and CTAs, draft a few short messages that you (and others at your nonprofit) can turn to as you create content for your website, blog, social media, email and other channels.

Determine branding & design

While you can keep things simple with great results, some organizations choose to use a theme or special logo to add a sense of cohesiveness throughout the month. No matter the direction, try to keep the look and feel on-brand, from website copy to social media graphics. And if you have a membership or parent organization, check to see if they’ve developed assets already, like the United Way of Central Iowa.

Plan your timeline

How will you break up the work and messaging over the course of a month? The more that you can “set it and forget it,” the easier the campaign will be to manage over several weeks. This means setting aside a few weeks for preparation and, if possible, creating and scheduling the first two weeks of marketing content. Depending on your goals and CTAs, you could also choose to focus on a different message each week to keep things organized over time.

Select measures of success

Now that all the pieces are coming together, wrap up your planning by thinking about how you’re going to measure the outcomes of your campaign. Start with your calls to action and brainstorm what metrics you have to tally results, like the number of volunteer testimonials collected or the number of new volunteers who’ve expressed interest in getting involved.

Volunteer Month Campaign Components

With your campaign coming into focus, the next step in creating your campaign is to pick the marketing tools and tactics that tie into your goals. We’ve outlined common options below along with examples from nonprofits that do a great job using their channels to both celebrate and recruit volunteers for their missions. For an added bonus, you can also download our free campaign template!

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Volunteer web pages

Your campaign needs a place on your website to serve as the digital hub of information for (and about) volunteers. For many organizations, this is your main Volunteer or Get Involved page, though you could also create a dedicated landing page, like this one from Berkshire United Way. For a campaign focused on volunteer contributions, your hub might be an Impact page.

No matter the approach, make sure your page content is up to date with open volunteer opportunities and includes the core messages and CTAs for your campaign. Check out this Volunteer page example from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and their accompanying campaign tweet.

Refreshing your volunteer descriptions

If you’re sharing volunteer positions directly on your website (and you really should!), take a close look before your campaign kicks off to make sure that they are accurate, welcoming and provide a compelling picture of the role.

Blog posts

No matter your campaign goals and messages, I’m betting that your blog has a role to play. There are tons of ways to blog about volunteers and volunteer service, from sharing their stories to describing the impact that volunteering makes on the community. You could even focus more on volunteering more generally, such as pulling from the State of the World’s Volunteerism Report. Just don’t forget to include a campaign CTA!

If you need inspiration, check out these examples:

Additional website updates

Make good use of your volunteer content and highlight your campaign calls to action by updating other places on your website to increase interest. There are lots of ways to drive traffic to important pages and posts, including a shout-out on your homepage, placing CTAs within pages and sidebars, and even running a website pop-up for the duration of your campaign. 

Email messages

Like blogging, email is a common marketing component that is highly flexible depending on your campaign goals. Throughout the month, consider using emails for volunteer engagement as well as for recognition and recruitment purposes. It can even be as simple as featuring volunteers in your regular newsletter, like this example from Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida.

Social media

Does coming up with a month’s worth of social media posts give you heartburn? Your campaign doesn’t need to completely take over your feeds, but it’s helpful to keep it top of mind with at least one post per week. If you refresh your main Volunteer page and publish a blog post—both of which you should share on social media—you’re halfway there!

See how other organizations have used their accounts to promote Volunteer Month, including driving visitors to their website to learn more, sharing photos and demonstrating impact with stories and stats.

And don’t forget about tapping into the networks of your partners and sponsors!

Story banking

As you’ve seen in our examples so far, many organizations use first-hand stories as part of their volunteer month campaigns. But if you don’t have existing stories to share or are looking for new ones, you can also use this time to collect social proof and user-generated content like stories, photos and testimonials.

Special Olympics New Hampshire ran a photo contest for volunteers as a way to gather up images, and you could also consider reaching out to people directly or adding and promoting a page on your website that collects stories with an online form

As you build your collection, you can start to put stories and quotes to good use on your site and also think about how you want to organize stories and set up a photo library.

Media release

Want to get your mission out there while spreading awareness of volunteers and volunteering? Consider sending a media release, letter to the editor, or working with the local news on a volunteer-related story. It’s not always a slam dunk in terms of getting your piece published, but a good news story is usually welcome—and National Volunteer month is reason enough to make your pitch. (Plus, you can always publish your release or letter on your blog!)

Looking at these examples, think about the angle that makes the most sense for your organization and the outlet. You could choose to focus on a single volunteer (especially for a community-specific publication or alumni magazine), talk about volunteerism more generally with a tie to your nonprofit, or feature programs and activities that need volunteer support.

For organizations using a Google Ad Grant, your campaign could be the perfect opportunity to start or revamp your volunteer-related ads. If you have a campaign goal about recruitment, ads can help you boost volunteer sign-ups, especially if you have a compelling page on your website to send ad traffic with your call to action. Best of all, these ads can continue to run well beyond your campaign timeline if they perform well.

This example ad from Catholic Charities Diocese of Toledo sends folks to a Volunteer page with a list of open volunteer opportunities for various ministries.

More Volunteer Appreciation & Recruitment Resources

Are you fired up about leveraging Volunteer Month to honor your supporters and bring new ones into the fold? If you can’t commit to a month-long campaign, here are a few additional resources to help your volunteer appreciation and recruitment efforts on a smaller scale for National Volunteer Week, Volunteer Day and throughout the year.

A Volunteer Month campaign for your nonprofit doesn’t have to do a little bit of everything to be successful. By picking one or two goals to focus on, you’ll keep volunteers at the heart of it all and start to build a foundation for future years. Each marketing campaign is a chance to learn something new, just like a day of service. Grab our template and get planning.

What are your plans for Volunteer Month? If you’ve run a volunteer-related campaign before, what’s worked well (or not) for your organization? Any additional examples you’d like to share? See you in the comments.