Expand your Volunteer Program with Non-Traditional Volunteering

Posted by Jennifer on August 1st, 2011

The most common challenge animal shelter and rescue volunteers and staff face? Not enough time and money to do everything they want to do to help homeless pets! Volunteers can help in so many ways that save both time and money, and provide new skills and pet-saving ideas and enthusiasm as well. One way to expand your current shelter or rescue volunteer program is through the use of “non-traditional” volunteers. Non-Traditional volunteers can be doing something a volunteer loves to do, or does for their job – something that doesn’t typically involve animals. And it is often volunteering done in a non-typical time frame. It can be volunteering for just one day or even just one hour (“micro-volunteering”), a 24-hour Serve-a-thon or weekend marathon, or where you they work from home or outside of normal business hours.

Here are just some ideas of ways non-traditional volunteers can help shelters and rescues:

  • - Office work (mailing, filing, typing)
  • Listing pets on pet adoption websites and social media
  • Returning telephone calls/emails
  • Grant writing
  • Fundraising
  • Organizing and distributing supplies in a disaster
  • Designing event posters
  • Photographing or videoing your pets for adoption
  • Organizing a “street team” to distribute flyers about your pets or events
  • Recruiting more volunteers through meetup or tweetup events at non-animal venues

You can find volunteers for almost all these ideas using the Adopt-a-Pet.com Volunteer Tool at www.adoptapet.com/shelter/volunteer/search (requires shelter login)

There are lots of places in addition to Adopt-a-Pet.com where you can find non-traditional volunteers too. Do make sure you are ready with your screening and training processes in place before you start recruiting, as well as letting your current volunteers know FIRST that you are looking for new types or additional volunteers. Your current volunteers may surprise you with revealing they have the skills or time you need already!

- Universities, trade colleges
- Art school (volunteer-created & donated cartoons, art, t-shirt designs, posters, etc)
- High schools
- Facebook & Twitter
- Local businesses
- Clubs (photography clubs, philanthropy clubs)
- Gyms

And you can post your volunteer opportunities on these websites:
- www.volunteermatch.org
- www.brightworks.me (for online micro-volunteers)
- www.allforgood.org (powers serve.gov & others)
- www.idealist.org
- www.dosomething.org (teens)

It is more effective (and less time consuming) to encourage an infrequently involved group to become more engaged than to recruit from a completely uninvolved group. Creating non-traditional volunteer opportunities for your infrequent volunteers is a very successful way to increase your volunteer support!

Here are many 1-hour webinars about increasing your volunteer use & motivating volunteers:
www.youtube.com/user/VolunteerMatch – click “Best Practices Webinar” to see all.

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