March 7, 2024

Episode #100: Fan Faves from 100 Volunteer Nation Episodes

In the 100th episode of the Volunteer Nation podcast, Tobi Johnson takes a moment to reflect on the journey of creating 100 Volunteer Nation Episodes since its start on April 11, 2022. To celebrate, Tobi revisits some of the past episodes, offering insights and highlights for new and long-time listeners alike.  

This milestone episode includes a special countdown of the top 10 most downloaded episodes, covering a range of topics such as volunteer engagement, recruitment strategies, and innovative models in volunteerism research.  

Tobi shares key learnings and the impact these discussions have had on volunteering communities, emphasizing the role of volunteerism in fostering connections and community growth. The episode also serves as an invitation for listeners to share their favorite episodes and topics they found most intriguing, fostering a communal spirit of learning and improvement in volunteerism. 

Thank you for your continued support and here’s to many more episodes of the Volunteer Nation podcast! 

Volunteer Nation Episodes – Episode Highlights 

  • [01:34] – The Journey of the Volunteer Nation Podcast 
  • [05:14] – The State of Volunteer Engagement 
  • [07:41] – Innovative Models in Volunteerism Research 
  • [10:33] – 10 Reasons Why Volunteerism is Important 
  • [13:39] – Why Your Volunteer Recruitment Isn’t Working 
  • [19:53] – 10 Ways to Create an Exceptional Volunteer Experience 
  • [23:04] – How to Set Up a New Volunteer Coordinator for Success 
  • [29:33] – How to Recruit Volunteers by Building a Following First 
  • [31:58] – Six Ways to Recruit Volunteers 

Volunteer Nation EpisodesQuotes from the Episode

“Volunteers have both emotional and informational needs as they go through the volunteer journey. They also have social needs. People volunteer to be around other people.” 

“I really strongly believe that when volunteer coordinators are burdened with so many administrative tasks, it really does limit their overall effectiveness and hinder their ability to make a lasting impact.” 

About the Show

Nonprofit leadership author, trainer, consultant, and volunteer management expert Tobi Johnson shares weekly tips to help charities build, grow, and scale exceptional volunteer teams. Discover how your nonprofit can effectively coordinate volunteers who are reliable, equipped, and ready to help you bring about BIG change for the better.

If you’re ready to ditch the stress and harness the power of people to fuel your good work, you’re in exactly the right place!

Contact Us

Have questions or suggestions for the show? Email us at

Rate, Review, & Follow Us on Apple Podcasts

If you love the content Tobi shares on the Volunteer Nation podcast, consider rating and reviewing the show! This helps us reach more people – and help more good causes just like yours – successfully engage enthusiastic, dedicated volunteers with less stress and more joy.

Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars. Then, select “Write a Review” and let us know what you loved most about this episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, follow the podcast so you don’t miss a thing. Follow now!

Subscribe to ProNews: Our Weekly Resource Roundup

If you’d like to stay up to date on all new podcasts, blogs, freebies, and deals posted on our Tobi Johnson & Associates and VolunteerPro websites, subscribe to our weekly ProNews newsletter.

Every Wednesday, we’ll send you a digest of our freshest content, plus a bonus! Once you confirm your subscription, you’ll get our [Free eBook] The New Volunteer Manager: The First 90 Days.

Episode #100: Fan Faves from 100 Volunteer Nation Episodes

Well, welcome my friends to episode 100 of the Volunteer Nation podcast. I’m your host, Tobi Johnson, and I cannot believe that we are at a hundred episodes time flies my friends. It is a trip I’m just sitting here thinking how did I get to a hundred episodes? I don’t think I even remember recording a hundred episodes it’s a lot but It’s also something to celebrate So today, I’d like to go through and share with you, especially if you’re a new listener, you might be interested in hearing more about some of our past episodes, way back in the way back machine, which isn’t that far long ago, but may give you some ideas of things you want to listen to. 

It may also give you some inspiration, may remind you of an episode you listened to in the past and you want to listen to it again and throw in some tips along the way. I’m pulling out some gems from some of these episodes so it will definitely be a fun episode just to go back in the hands of time and see what we got. 

What little nuggets of value do we have to share with you today? Our Volunteer Nation podcast episodes, our very first episode was posted on April 11th. 2022. So, we are about four years, almost four years into our recordings and our show. And, you know, I remember it took me several years of thinking, you know what, I need to do a podcast. 

And then the next year would run around, and I would say, you know what, I need to do a podcast. And then the next year would come around and I’d say, you know what, I need to a podcast. And finally, the time was right. And I figured it out, taught myself a little bit about podcasting, took a course on podcasting and decided to give it a go. 

And since then, we’ve had over 33, 000 downloads of our Volunteer Nation episodes. We are in the top 25 percent of popular podcasts on the Buzzsprout Network, which is pretty cool. And we’ve had some amazing guests who’ve been willing to share their time, expertise, and inspiration, which has been fantastic. 

I’ve gotten to know new people. We’ve talked about a variety of topics, just really interesting things related to philanthropy. Giving, community, psychology, all the good stuff and it’s just been a joy and one of the greatest joys of doing this podcast is when I’m on the road or often when I’m on a call with someone, they’ll say, guess what? 

I’m a listener. I listen to your podcast all the time. It always blows my mind because I’m, oh, people are really listening. So. If you are listening and you are obviously listening right now thank you. If you’re an early one time, this is your first episode, welcome. If you’ve been listening to me since the very beginning, thank you. 

You know, podcasts don’t do much if nobody listens. So, it’s great to have a community of people who are interested in making volunteerism a priority in their communities who are. interested in fostering connections amongst people for the greater good. This is amazing work that we do, and I’m only honored to be part of this type of community. 

So, today to celebrate, I thought I’d give you a rundown of my top 10 most downloaded Volunteer Nation podcast episodes. And if you missed any, I’ll link these too. The show notes, so you can check them out. They might be a review if you’ve listened to them all already but certainly you won’t have remembered the top 10, I’m going to share. 

So, take a minute before we even get started though, and think to yourself, what topics do you think have been the most popular? Not necessarily the episode name, but what topics in your mind? Do you think they have been the most popular and I’m, I’m going to go down and you’ll be able to check against what you think. 

So, think about that. And then what episodes have you enjoyed the most? Maybe which episode in particular stands out in your mind if you’re a long-time listener and if you want to post it in the comments or the review form of your favorite pod. Listening platform and just let us know. I’m kind of curious. 

So, some of our newer podcast episodes obviously are not going to have as high a ranking as some of our older ones but you’d be surprised what comes up in this countdown of our top 10 fan faves. So, without further ado, let’s get started. I am really to announce episode number 10 in the 10th spot of our top 10 volunteer nation episodes of all time. 

It is Volunteer Nation episode number 47, the state of volunteer engagement with Dr. Sue Carter Kahl and Dr. Nathan Dietz, and they have done some really interesting in the past few years, some interesting research around the state of volunteer engagement and in particular the state of funding around volunteer engagement and we talked about that on this episode And we found, or they found, and we discussed it, was that now more than ever, non-profit CEOs and executives actually are starting to understand and recognize the importance of volunteer service and of creating a welcoming environment in the infrastructure to make it successful. 

So that is fantastic news for our sector. By the same token, CEOs Volunteers are not asking for funding or support for covering volunteer services and the budget that’s needed to fund a volunteer program because they do not believe that there is funding available out there. for volunteer services, which is interesting. 

At the same time, funders, they did this research. They talked to both founders and CEOs. Funders thought, hey, this support must not be needed because no one’s asking for it. So, it creates this sort of self-perpetuating cycle where we simply don’t have enough funding for what we do because CEOs and executives and grant writers aren’t asking for funding because they don’t believe it’s available and funders aren’t making it available because they don’t think anybody needs it or wants it. 

Interesting, no? So interesting research, great research to start the conversation up again around what kind of support volunteer involving organizations need to really make this happen, to double, triple, quadruple their impact by engaging community members. So, who wouldn’t want to fund that? 

Just say it. All right. So that was our 10th most downloaded episode, Volunteer Nation episode number 47, the state of volunteer engagement with Dr. Sue Carter Kale and Dr. Nathan Dietz. All right. Number nine is also an interview I had with another researcher. It’s Volunteer Nation Episode 58, Innovative Models in Volunteerism Research with Dr. Lucas Meijs, and I’ve known Lucas for a long time. I think I met him at Arnovo, which is an academic research conference, mostly for academics, but some of us pro academics go there from time to time. And he’s been doing a lot of research on philanthropy and community engagement, and he is often posing questions about our assumptions around volunteer engagement. 

His research and his papers are consistently calling us to reconsider sometimes long held beliefs and models about how we approach volunteerism. And one of the areas that is so interesting to me in terms of his thinking is that, you know, models are usually about volunteers themselves, or research I should say, is usually about volunteers themselves. 

What are volunteers’ motivations? What makes volunteers stick? What makes volunteers happy, et cetera, et cetera. But he has really started to look at things in a systemic way and realizes that sometimes it’s the models and ways of connecting with the community that need to be upgraded, evolved, and changed. 

And so, in his research, he did research with the late. Dr. Jeff Brudney and they talked about, you know, a more volunteer commons and a more holistic and sustainable approach to managing volunteerism as a natural resource versus a model of human resources management, which is a very different model. 

And we talked a little bit about volunteering as a common pool resource for communities that can be depleted like any other natural resource, which I think we’re seeing that. A little bit in post COVID world. And he really suggests that the traditional model of volunteer management, which really focuses on recruitment rather than retention can be problematic and even exploitative. 

So, it’s a great kind of a little bit nerdy conversation about models and how we think about volunteerism. But I love Lucas’s work just because it’s constantly asking us to take another look and examine our assumptions about what models, you know, a model of anything, any approach is just a model. 

It’s not a given. It’s not a given that we would engage the community using a human resources model, for example, could be something completely different. So, I like that he does that. So that was a fantastic conversation. So, check that out. 58 Innovative Models in Volunteerism Research with Dr. Lucas Meijs. 

In the eighth spot is Volunteer Nation episode 51, 10 Reasons Why Volunteerism is Important, Way Beyond the Fluff. At the time when I recorded that episode, it was April, and it was Global Volunteer Month. And I really wanted to, you know, reflect on the significance of volunteerism, you know, because we don’t really as practitioners and often many of you in the field, whether you’re leaders of organizations or leaders of volunteers, you just don’t reflect a lot on why your work is so important beyond getting your mission done, right? 

You just don’t have time to think about it. So, I decided I’d assemble a list of 10 reasons why volunteering is important beyond free labor. Beyond free labor or beyond a pair of hands. Right. I wanted to go beyond way. Oh, volunteers are essential. All the fluffy things we say. I really wanted to get down to brass tacks and talk about real ROI. 

I shared 10 things and I’ll share three of them here just to give you a feel. A little bit of taste from that episode. One is it breaks down biases and builds community. You know, when we start working with people and volunteering with people who are different than us, biases, if we have some biases around people, they’ll get challenged. 

And if we’re self-reflective at all, we’ll realize, oh, huh, these, this person isn’t like I thought they’d be. And that’s a good thing in our community because our society can be so divisive right now. So, volunteerism is a method for bringing people together. Another reason volunteerism is important is it, volunteerism research shows has been, is, and has been as helpful as psychotherapy. 

So, it has tremendous mental health benefits for those who are involved in it. And given, you know, the stress and mental health crises that folks are experiencing, this is a great thing to support community members, even if they don’t know it’s doing that, but it can make people happy. And can help them cope better by being in community with others. 

So that’s pretty cool. And then another reason volunteerism is important is because I believe that volunteerism, particularly when you engage volunteers in program development, in program assessment, in feedback, in listening sessions, in surveying, anytime you’re inviting them to offer their opinion. 

It is keeping your organization more honest as a community based organization because you’re expanding number of perspectives and you know sometimes we get very myopic as paid staff about how we see the community we’re trying to serve and when volunteers come from that community they can really give us an honest, candid view about whether or not we’re meeting needs. 

So, it can keep us honest. And I think that’s fantastic. So that’s a little bit on Volunteer Nation episode 51, 10 reasons why volunteerism is important. And I went way beyond the fluff y’all, right? in seventh place on the countdown of the top 10 Volunteer Nation episodes of all time. 

And this one is Volunteer Nation episode 42, why your volunteer recruitment isn’t working and what to do instead.So at the beginning of this episode, I asked you to think about what are the topics that you think were the most popular and volunteer recruitment is one that is very popular. And luckily, it’s something we do a lot at Tobi Johnson and Associates and Volunteer Pro. 

Do a lot of coaching, training, consulting around engaging in Community, marketing and communication strategy messaging, developing your ideal volunteer persona. There’s just a lot of work we do on that. So, it’s always a joy for me. It’s, it’s an area of expertise that I really like to share. 

So, this one, I had so many people not understanding why their volunteer recruitment wasn’t working. And in fact, I felt like they were maybe blaming the wrong people. So, you know, we often think that just because our marketing isn’t delivering the results we want, people in the community aren’t interested in volunteering or aren’t in our cause anyway, or in volunteering in general. 

So often we’ll blame the volunteer in the community or the community itself. Well, the reason people aren’t stepping up is because they don’t care well. Sometimes the reason people aren’t stepping up is because your marketing isn’t very good, right? You’re not reaching those people. They’re not hearing about you. 

And so, I think we, you know, it’s an easy assumption to make, whether we’re fundraising or friend raising or volunteer recruiting, that if people don’t step up, it’s, it’s their fault. It’s because they don’t care. You know, they’re slackers or lazy. They, you know, they’re, they’re heartless, whatever it is. And, you know, maybe we don’t think about them that way, but sometimes maybe we do. 

And I will say, yeah, I don’t think so. I think there’s people out in the community all over the place that are interested in helping. And I love to look at Google Trends. You can go online and look at Google Trends, and you can type in volunteer opportunities near me, and you can look at the trend line over the past decade, and you you can see for yourself that people are actively looking and has been on the rise. 

of people actively looking. I think it’s flattened a little bit, but it’s still like, multitude, significantly more people are looking online for volunteer opportunities than they were five years ago. So, we can’t blame it on the community if we’re not communicating with them. Even with just a few small changes in your approach to marketing, you can realize some big results. 

So, I didn’t leave you hanging in this episode. I also posed some questions to help organizations think about why their recruitment might not be working. So I think I’ll, I’ll pose as a couple here. One is, are you appealing to the same group of people over and over? You know, you keep going the same well, or are you broadening your potential reach, reaching new audiences, actively working to get your word out beyond the usual suspects. 

And sometimes that takes some paid advertising. Sometimes it takes some really intense social media pushes. Sometimes it’s a tell a friend campaign. There’s a lot of ways to actually widen the scope of the people that are following you. it takes effort. It takes focus. That’s one question you might want to ask and you know, that might be why your recruitment isn’t working. 

Another reason might be, you know, ask yourself, are you simply offering dates, times and days on your website? This is where we need volunteers in these roles. And these are all the requirements to volunteer and it’s really, you know, organization centric. I see this a lot. This is a, this is one of the most common things I see. 

The alternative to that is to offer a compelling story. On your web page and in your, in your marketing around how volunteers can make a real difference through service with your organization. You’ve got to start there with the meaning of volunteerism. What does it mean at your organization before you start telling people about the 50 million? 

Things they need to do to become a volunteer, you know, you haven’t even made the case and you’re already asking people to do things for you. And so, that type of messaging mismatched, matched messaging and does not really start with a compelling story and a compelling ask and a compelling rationale, business case for support, you’re not going to attract people because they’re going to, it just looks hard. It doesn’t look very inspiring. So that’s a question to ask to figure out why our volunteer recruitment is not working. The third area is, are you requiring potential volunteers to jump through too many hoops? 

If things are hard, people will walk away. If It’s confusing. People will walk away. Another question might be phrased another way. Are you making volunteers feel like they are important, welcome and you’re excited, you know, important contributors and partners when they come to your webpage? 

Do they feel like you are just thrilled to death that you can hang out and work with them and invite them? Or do they feel like you don’t trust them, that they are not going to do well in your organization, they’re not there for the right reasons, that they probably don’t have what it takes, you know, that they’re, they’re not committed enough. 

Just check it out. Look at your messaging and just go to your web page or ask somebody else. What does this web page make you feel? And if it’s not something happy and inspired, then it’s probably not working for you. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re not doing some of your due diligence, but there’s ways of framing things that don’t make people feel like, you know, they’ve done something wrong before they’ve even stepped forward. 

Right? You know, the screening, when we talk about screening, I prefer matching myself. I think it’s a two-way street. I don’t think it’s a one-way street. Volunteers have options. We don’t have options. We need volunteers, but volunteers do, so you better make it a two-way street. So, there’s some questions in that episode. 

Number 42, why your volunteer recruitment isn’t working. So, I posed several other questions in that episode. You might want to check it out. Okay. Sixth on the list of my top 10 volunteer nation episodes of all time. Now all time is only a hundred episodes but come on. Stick with me on this. This is kind of fun. 

All right, Volunteer Nation episode 62, 10 ways to create an exceptional volunteer experience. let’s face it, not all volunteer experiences are equal, and to truly make an impact, you must focus on creating exceptional experiences that not only benefit your organization, but also empower and motivate volunteers so they keep coming back. 

So, in this episode, I shared strategies for improving the volunteer experience. Including creating a culture of learning and valuing volunteers’ lived experiences. So how do you bring their wisdom to the table? I also talked a little bit about how you want to, at first, those first touches offer immediate support assistance, et cetera. 

You know, think of yourself as a concierge. I like to recommend people think this way. Think of yourself as a concierge. And you’re offering customer service to new volunteers, new recruits sort of like, you know, if somebody works at the Ritz Carlton, I, I gave this example the other day on our Boost Camp coaching call. 

I said, you know, if you go to the Ritz Carlton and you’re checking in. They don’t say to you let me check, do you have enough money to stay here? Can you pay your bill? Is there anything in your suitcase that might be dangerous here? Are you the right kind of person to stay at the Ritz Carlton? No, they don’t ask all of them. 

They don’t make guests feel that way. They say, welcome Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. or whoever welcomes our hotel. And they treat people like the valued guests that they are. So, think about how you might. Treat volunteers with more of a concierge experience and make sure that you’re addressing their needs. 

What are the needs that, whether it’s informational, emotional, etc. What do volunteers need in order to get up to speed and run, and run with you? Okay, so let’s take a quick break from my rundown of the top 10 Volunteer Nation episodes of all time in celebration of our 100th episode, which is this one, and I’ll be right back, and I’ve got five more for you, so don’t go anywhere. 

If you enjoyed this week’s episode of Volunteer Nation, we invite you to check out the Volunteer Pro Premium Membership. This community is the most comprehensive resource for attracting, engaging, and supporting dedicated, high impact volunteer talent for your good cause. Volunteer Pro Premium Membership helps you build or renovate an effective volunteer program with less stress and more joy so that you can ditch the overwhelm and confidently carry your vision forward. It is the only implementation of its kind that helps your organization build maturity across five phases of our proprietary system, the volunteer strategy success path. If you’re interested in learning more, visit  

Okay, we are back and celebrating our top 10. Volunteer Nation episodes from our first 100 episodes and we’re celebrating that with our 100th episode today. I cannot believe it. It’s still blowing my mind. 100! When did this happen? I don’t even remember doing this. Anyway, all right, we’re at number 5 of our top 10. 

Volunteer Nation episodes of all time. Number five is Volunteer Nation episode 45, Build a Smarter Volunteer Retention Strategy. So, you are all wise, wise beyond belief, because, you know, recruitment and retention are two sides of the same coin, right? They are so, you know, synergistic. If you do one well, you can do the other. 

If you do, if you do a good job at volunteer recruitment, your volunteers will stay longer. And if you do a good job at volunteer retention, you will not have to work so hard at volunteer recruitment. It’s just, they’re so synergistic. So, folks wanted to learn about that as well and tuned into that episode. 

In this episode, I offered a closer look at how to design a more purposeful user with your potential volunteer’s journey and how to build a smarter retention strategy with intention and information. So, I encouraged you in this episode to think of yourself as an architect of the volunteer experience. 

So, you are designing this journey. You’re not letting it happen. It’s not, your journey shouldn’t be driven by your paperwork or your processes. It should be driven by what is in the best interest of the volunteers and us, our organization, as we move through this process as we engage them more deeply in our mission. 

Starting with the onboarding process, just looking for ways to make improvements, increasing relational communication and connection. We are in the people business, but sometimes we think we’re in the paperwork business. I can tell you it’s more about people than paperwork every day. You can, in fact, not have a great paperwork process, but if you have a really good people process, it will work fantastically. 

On the flip side, if you have. So, if you don’t have a tight paperwork process, it’s really organized, everything works well, but you don’t have a relational people process that helps people feel welcome and valued. Guess what? Doesn’t matter. It’s not going to work. It’s always the people process that is, is really trumping everything else. 

So, look for ways to increase relational communication, meeting the volunteers, emotional and social needs. You know, volunteers have both emotional and informational needs as they go through the volunteer journey. They also have social needs. People volunteer to be around other people. 

Most, most people. Some people like to volunteer virtually and just be alone. There are people like that. But most of the time it’s really to get out. So, think about that as you set up your volunteer retention strategy and check out that Volunteer Nation episode 45, where I talk about how to build a smarter volunteer retention strategy. 

It’ll give you some ideas if you’re looking at new ways to design and become that architect of the volunteer experience. Okay. We’re on to number four. We’re getting down to number one shortly. Volunteer Nation episode 67. How to set up a new volunteer coordinator for success. Now this one was a surprise sleeper for me. 

I don’t know why, but I created this one specifically for leaders, executives, people who are director level and above to be able to start to put in place What volunteer coordinators actually need because we have, you know, new folks coming into the field all the time and usually the folks that are in the supervisory role don’t really understand, unless you’re a volunteer services department with more than one person, the people hiring don’t really actually understand volunteerism that well because they’re not experts in it and they’re looking for people and they’ll bring people on and then they don’t know how to support them and get them up to speed. 

So, I thought I’d create an episode for this. The role of a volunteer coordinator has evolved really into such a complex, multifaceted. position. It has such a wide range of responsibilities, you know, you’re doing recruitment, training, policy development, risk management, human resources, data. 

I mean, you name it. It’s a, you know, it’s a very wide-ranging job. So to work more effectively and strategically, I argued in this episode that it’s crucial to actually reduce the administrative workload of Leaders of volunteers, particularly volunteer coordinators, so that they can spend time on building relationships, recruiting new volunteers, and engaging with the community, being out in the community, rather than behind a desk managing data. 

You know, a lot of people are spending a lot of time. At the computer managing the volunteer management database, and they’re not out in the community. So, it’s not that you don’t need this data, but there’s got to be a way to make sure that, you know, maybe it’s somebody in your IT department who is helping with that data crunching and that you’re able to get out in the community. 

I strongly believe. That when volunteer coordinators are burdened with so much administrative tasks, you know, centered around paperwork and, you know, administrative duties, it really does limit their overall effectiveness and hinder their ability to make a lasting impact because they’re just not, we, again, we’re in the people business and they’re not able to be with people. 

When I talk about preparing someone, that’s one of the key sorts of arguments I make. So that, that was, that was a fun episode to record and I’m, you know, surprised it’s number four. It really is something people wanted to know about. So, volunteer nation episode 67, how to set up a new volunteer coordinator for success. 

There you go – I may do a few more of those like that, how to support. You know, there’s, there’s more we can do around that. So, I’ll think about it. our Third, we’re on our countdown, the top 10. Our number three is Volunteer Nation episode two, which is how to recruit volunteers by building a following first, which was the second episode I ever did. 

And I was like, this was another sleeper. I’m like, really? Wow. So, people really resonated with this one. I share specific volunteer recruitment tips specifically on how to grow and engage with your community using digital marketing. And so, you’ll hear some stats. I share stats on today’s social media engagement rates. 

They’re not what you think they are. We think they’re the silver bullet. Social media is not the silver bullet. They are surprisingly low. The organic reach of social media is surprisingly low, and you can check it out. Then, the statistics I share in that I also talk about using your time wisely. 

Like where, where should you spend your time and energy? And in that section, I also in that episode, I also share ideas for list building freebies or lead magnets where people can opt in and you’re collecting their email address so that you can peak the interest of potential volunteers and start to have a conversation and start to share with them information over the course of, you know, several emails and what we call a nurture sequence. 

Once people know a little bit more about you, they may be more likely to say yes to your question. So, you start creating. a network or constellation of people that are revolving around n or your planet or your organization. And you know, when the time is right and you put out an ask, they may come and come and help you out. 

So, I also share five types of content you can share with that list that you’re nurturing and sharing and educating about your cause, I share five different types of content that you can share with that group. In today’s world, email is, is actually one of the most effective ways to recruit and engage people, whether you’re selling something or recruiting volunteers. 

It’s not so much social media. It’s actually email is one of your biggest assets on your website. And of course, people, the people word of mouth marketing. But in that episode, I talk about how it all works. So, check that out. Volunteer nation episode two, how to recruit volunteers by building a following first. 

So, hope you like that one. Ooh, I’m down to the last top two. We’re at number two. Ooh. Volunteer Nation, Episode 44, Six Ways to Recruit Volunteers. So this one’s interest doesn’t surprise me because people are always asking me. And in fact, you know, sometimes I’ll do an episode on a question that I get asked a lot about and this is one. 

What are creative ways to recruit volunteers? We often think about recruiting as pushing out a big appeal as many times as possible through as many platforms as possible. But I ask in this episode, what if you could apply some strategy and creativity to the process to reach the right people for your call to action versus just a cattle call and offer more meaningful volunteer opportunities? 

And would that have an impact and make your volunteer recruitment easier? And so, I also share some out of the box ideas, and I’m going to share a couple now. Is hosting a monthly or weekly service night for a particular audience like singles like Thursday night singles or family day on the fourth Thursday or the fourth Sunday So you’re attracting groups of volunteers that have things in common That they want to be around one another because they have things in common. 

So, you’re creating a community or building community around your volunteer opportunity. Now it, this doesn’t work for all types of opportunities, but it’s a great way to target a segment of your community that you want to recruit. I offer some suggestions on how to implement this, but it’s, it’s an interesting way sort of out of the box way rather than just, you know, continuing to push out your appeals. 

Another idea I had was hosting a recruitment breakfast or lunch. This one takes a little bit more work and more legwork after because you must do follow up, but it can offer huge rewards when it’s done. Approach with the right partners. So sometimes you need community partners to help you with this. 

It’s also a great way to get your message in front of a larger audience all at once. And I’ve done these types of breakfasts and lunches. Usually, it’s breakfast to get people first in the morning. There are a couple ways I’ve used in the past. I did a pastor’s breakfast once where I was enlisting the faith community. 

To get involved with my organization in terms of sharing information about the Affordable Care Act and the opportunity to get health insurance through the exchanges. This was when the Affordable Care Act just passed, and I was doing some organizing in this community. And we had breakfast and we worked with the mayor’s office who extended the invitation and we worked with some of the key pastors in our area and we were able to really reach a lot of people. 

There’s a lot of social proof in these types of events because people see other people they know there and they’re like, okay, they’re supporting it, I’m going to support it. Right. And you know, having a little food. Always helps. The other thing I’ve done with breakfast is one time I did a, I was running an employment and training program for young people, for homeless youth and I, we invited, I worked with the board and I worked with the development department to identify local businesses, mostly small businesses, to be willing to either do internships or offer jobs or at the very least informational interviews with our youth and our employment and training program and our job readiness program. And we had a ballroom full of people. We made, we had coffee cups made that were like, you know, with logos on them and stuff. And we had young people come up on stage and talk about their experiences and why, you know, employer support was so important. 

We had cards on the table, interest cards. So, it was like a fundraising event, but it was a friend raising event. And then after I spent my entire next couple, three weeks meeting with people, going down to different businesses and talking with people about what we were doing. Very effective to have a big push happen. 

It takes some legwork. You need partners to invite people to the table. But it can really be effective when you need a large group of people to help you to get to the next level. So, I’ve used breakfast in a variety of ways. Those are a few different ways I’ve engaged the community in my past lives in the nonprofit sector. 

Oh, you guys, we are now down to Number one, number one, the top Listen, volunteer nation podcast episode of all time. And this is, this is probably people, it’s going to be kind of a letdown. I think it’s so obvious. All right. Episode one. Welcome to the volunteer nation podcast. It’s kind of anticlimactic, isn’t it? 

Our first episode is our most popular episode. I hope that doesn’t mean a bunch of people listen and then they just forget it. I’m done with this place. I actually think it’s because people often go back if they start listening to a podcast, they often go back to episode one. If they start midway through, it’s already been going for, you know, a year or whatever, and they go back and they just want to hear about what the podcast is about. 

So, episode one. I kicked it off. This is where it all started. I kicked it off where I talked about, you know, before I started my consulting and training, I had about 25 years working in nonprofits, public sector agencies, grassroots organizing campaigns, and of course, volunteering myself. 

And there was one thing. One thing that I’ve learned throughout that experience and that one thing is that you cannot do it alone. There is not a single cause or charity or any type of change you’re trying to bring about in a community. It is impossible to do it by yourself. You need a community around you. 

And so that’s one of the reasons I started this podcast. To begin with I wanted to bring in some voices. I wanted to encourage different ways of thinking about how we engage our, our community, in service, but also just in support. I wanted to talk to different thinkers. Who have different ideas that maybe we should open our minds to and wanted to see if I could make sure we can continue to keep our eye on the ball because this is such an important endeavor and volunteerism has had a rough time in the last couple years. 

It’s been rough and we’ve got to evolve. And so, I hope that with my tiny little podcast, occasionally and the wisdom of some of our guests, that occasionally we can spark some inspiration for change and help people grow and help people get practical tips and not feel like they’re alone. Just feel like they’re in community. 

And so, I want to thank you all for listening. It has been such a pleasure and an honor. To offer this podcast, again, a hundred episodes are still blowing my mind right now and here’s to a hundred more. And I look forward to, in the future, bringing on more guests, also maybe having some guest hosts. I don’t know. 

We’ll think about it. And starting to multiply the voices that are heard through this vehicle of communication. So, thanks again for being a loyal listener. I really appreciate you. And if you see me out in public, cause I’m going to do a lot of public speaking this spring, come up and say, hi, let me know you’re listening to the pod. 

We appreciate you and if you like this pod, as I always say at the end of our podcasts, share with a friend or colleague who might also need some inspiration and a better approach that might get them better traction and if you would give us a rating, we like the five star ratings, comment, like, review and the particular comment we’re looking for this week is, Which volunteer nation episode did you find the most interesting of the past 100? 

Just kind of curious. We could do a little bit of crowdsourcing, a little bit of polling. All right. So, take care, everybody. We will be back next week. Same time, same place, on The Volunteer Nation. Thanks, everybody.