Three Key Components to Building a Dedicated Volunteer Network


Volunteer organizations all over the country, large or small often struggle with the same problem – getting individuals to return to volunteer. The solution is to build a dedicated volunteer network that is not only available to support your charity but is also invested in the future growth of your cause.

“There are three key components that are crucial to building a dedicated and invested volunteer network,” says Julie D’Esposito, Operation Warm’s National Volunteers Manager.

How to Find the Right Volunteers

“The first thing a volunteer organization should do when building a dedicated volunteer network is obvious but often overlooked,” Julie says. “Find the right people.” While it is wonderful when anyone wants to volunteer, it is important to have a good volunteer match.

“Recruiting volunteers has to be strategic. The more you explain exactly what the volunteer position entails, what qualifications are needed, and how much time they have to dedicate to your initiative, you’ll begin to narrow the search and fill your roles with qualified and highly interested people.”

Nonprofit Hub recommends being transparent with your donors, but the same advice can be applied to your volunteer network, too. Answer all questions truthfully and completely. The only surprises you want your volunteers to have is how much fun volunteering for your organization really is.

Connecting Volunteers to Your Cause

building a dedicated volunteer network“The second thing a volunteer organization can do foster a dedicated volunteer network is by making connections,” Julie says.  “Connect the volunteer’s role to how it helps your cause, and make sure you share common goals. You want to show your volunteers how they are helping your mission.”

Some volunteer jobs are obvious in how they further a mission. For example, giving brand new coats to a child means that child will be warm. Other roles may be subtle. Someone who is taking care of paperwork may free up resources that make it possible for the organization to do more good.

“Showing impact makes it possible for volunteers to stay motivated, and it gives them the opportunity to continue working for something they believe in.”

Establish a Culture of Volunteer Value

“The last and most important element is to establish a culture that values its volunteer,” Julie says. “It’s hard to expect a volunteer to be invested and volunteer with a smile on their face if they don’t feel important. Through a variety of different ways, you need to make sure that your volunteers feel appreciated and know that they are an important part of your community.” offers free resources and ideas for acknowledging and thanking volunteers, from volunteer appreciation certificates to planning out an inexpensive monthly drawing.

“Volunteers are essential to a growing nonprofit organization, and it’s crucial to make sure that everyone knows that.” As Volunteer Match points out, “Volunteers get paid in acknowledgement, not money.”

Julie welcomes new volunteers and would love to speak with you about some of the exciting volunteer opportunities with Operation Warm. 

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