Posting and Hosting: Tips for Recruiting Volunteers Through Nature Groupie

Citizen Science kid mom and frog

Want to get the most out of the Nature Groupie online calendar? We’ve collected tips based on six years and thousands of volunteer experiences posted on our calendar. We want your events to shine – to attract new volunteers, to support your mission, to accomplish your stewardship and conservation goals. Here’s what we’ve learned works when it comes to posting experiences on Nature Groupie.

 

Don’t skimp on your description.

Today, people want to know as much as possible about what they’ll experience as a volunteer. Just like researching a new restaurant online, people want to know what to expect: what they will learn, why the work is important, who should consider attending, and more. The best descriptions portray fun and joy, as well as purpose and goals. Use Drafting a Volunteer Position Description when you host your next volunteer experience.

 

Some topics are more popular than others.

Kids Searching for Monarchs

Our data show that projects with a focus on wildlife are some of the most popular volunteer experiences on Nature Groupie. In the last year, volunteer experiences that focused on green crabs, monarch butterflies and New England cottontails attracted some of the highest numbers of volunteers through Nature Groupie. Can you connect your project to improvements that help wildlife? If so, include that in your theme or title. 

 

Teach skills.

Compass

Experiences that teach practical, hands-on skills are consistently popular with Nature Groupies. Recently, events that taught people how to use a map & compass, how to lead a nature walk, or skills to fight wildland fires have attracted sold-out participation through Nature Groupie. Can you incorporate skill-building in your volunteer experience? If so, be sure to highlight what people will learn.

 

Want to attract a lot of volunteers? Keep it simple.

family clean up great bay

Want to build your base of volunteers? Host a trash clean-up. We are always impressed at the strong showing of volunteers at clean up events. Clean ups are welcoming. Everyone knows how to pick up trash. People know what to expect and the reward – a cleaner environment – is obvious to all. These are also family-friendly experiences, a great avenue for involving all generations of volunteers.

 

Use your best photo.

man pulling dandillions from alpine zone - Mount Washington

The Nature Groupie website uses a lot of photos, for good reason. Photos make an online description more engaging and welcoming. The best photos show people in action and are relatable. It’s best to show 1-2 people close up, rather than a large group. Choose photos that invoke fun, joy, or beauty. Keep in mind who is in your photo. People will be more attracted an event if they relate to the person in the image, so the person in your photo should be similar to the person you want to come to your event.

If you don’t include a photo with your post, we’ll use a stock photo in black and white. That’s okay, but during your next volunteer event, take some photos to promote your next event. You can ask people to pose – it’s not cheating!

 

Try things in all seasons.

winter volunteer holding rabbit scat purple coat

People are looking for volunteer experiences throughout the year, but during some months, the Nature Groupie calendar offers more choice than others. Hosting a volunteer experience or training during “off-peak” months (see chart) may attract stronger interest that you might expect. We are often surprised to see winter events fill to capacity. Volunteers are a hardy bunch!

Graph of seasonality of nature groupie events as posted to online calendar 2014-2019

 

Host a Recruitment Event

Harris Center internal view of meeting with people at tables

We often advise groups looking to expand their pool of volunteers, especially those who want on-going volunteers, to host a volunteer recruitment indoor event, ideally in the winter. Recently, the White Mountain National Forest hosted volunteer information sessions at 10 different New Hampshire-based community libraries during the winter months. They attracted many new volunteers, who could meet WMNF staff and hear about all the ways to volunteer on the forest, during all seasons. Participants could sign up for different opportunities at the event, and received enrollment information later according to their preferences.