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Why can I not get any volunteers

  • 1.  Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 05-30-2023 01:36 PM

    I've been doing TNR for 3 years but it wasn't until last year that I decided to get a business license. (because the cost was killing me) . Then this year several other organizations asked me to go nonprofit so I did, but I can't find a decent person that will not flake on me. I'm very frustrated. Any advice is more than welcome 


    Linda Sanches
    Scaredy Cats TNR

  • 2.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 05-31-2023 01:22 PM

    Having exact same problem here in CA. I was given an idea by another non-profit. They do quarterly coffee and juice meet and greet events at a local conference center (free to use) and they do a 15 min presentation about their organization and why it's the best place to do volunteering. They highlight their successes, available opportunities, mission, etc. I guess it's the free coffee and juice that gets them in the door. :)

    They post the event on their FaceBook, Nextdoor, and use other unrelated non-profit organizations to post too. Apparently, they come away with at least 5 new volunteers each time they have the event. I plan on trying this approach later this Summer.

    Susan Aimes
    Stars and Stripes Dog Rescue

  • 3.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-02-2023 07:50 AM

    I really like this idea. We struggle, as well, and this might be a great way to find some help. Thanks!

    Allison Rathert
    k9.5 Rescue

  • 4.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-01-2023 03:16 AM


    We have the same issue at our rural sanctuary in Florida. Our main issue in finding and keeping volunteers is that we are rural and it is a long drive from the closest cities. We offer "virtual" volunteer opportunities as well including asking for help with finding community sponsors, donations (in-kind and monetary), help with fundraisers and events and our social media. We also work with local churches & high school service groups who need volunteer hours. These groups are usually a once a month visit but still helpful. 

    Susan, that is a great idea!

    Lisa Burn
    Farmhouse Animal & Nature Sanctuary
    Myakka City, FL

  • 5.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-01-2023 06:29 AM

    recruitment and retention can be very difficult.  When we recruit we try to give as detailed as possible what the expectations are going to be, and stress the importance

      of commitment.  We try to start people off slowly to help build their confidence and get them vested in the mission.

    Charles Brown
    executive director
    Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society

  • 6.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-01-2023 06:36 AM

    Hey Linda!

    First, thank you for what you do with TNR. That's such a mentally & physically hard mission so I applaud you for helping with the cat overpopulation! Second, perhaps some of these ideas will help:

    • Business Volunteering: A lot of companies now offer X amount of hours per quarter/year for employees to go volunteer for organizations & they get paid for it. Market a teambuilding opportunity to help with transporting cats or prepping/setting traps & split the time between that & education. Anytime we have a corporate group come to our shelter, we end up having 2-3 sign up as regular volunteers with us.
    • Develop a Recruiting Volunteer: Create a role for a volunteer position where their only focus is to recruit.
    • Separate Volunteer Roles: Oftentimes folks get overwhelmed with the amount of tasks assigned to them. They initially want to be that "anything you need" but find quickly it's too much. We have found separating out our Trappers, vs. Transporters, vs "Release Champions" for TNR helps folks focus on what specifically they're comfortable doing & it has led to higher retention.

    Best of luck and again, thank you for what you're doing!

    Sarah Sukhram
    Vol. & Foster Coordinator
    Pasco County Animal Services
    Land O' Lakes, FL

  • 7.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-01-2023 06:39 AM

    Our volunteers have been steadily growing for the last 9 months.  Every month we have a regular open Volunteer Meeting (sometimes held at a local brewery's private room).  We discuss past events, upcoming events and how to sign up using our SignUpGenius page (super easy to manipulate and make it look bright and fun!), and anything else we want to share...upcoming programs, current programs they may not know about, (for example the Maddie's Fund Open Arms Challenge - we spent one entire meeting just on that!) etc.  We make sure that everyone that is interested in volunteering is given a beautiful volunteer t-shirt.  I think that really makes them feel a part of something!  We offer many different types of events...adoption events in all different types of places (we just had one at a local over 50 living community.  One volunteer helped with that because she was interested in seeing the place!)  We try to keep things interesting.  Last week our volunteers worked at a local outdoor concert - helping with wrist bands, tickets, beer and drink distribution and clean up... knowing it was for a donation to our organization.  They had fun bonding and working together for the good of the organization - even though no animals were involved!  We welcome ages 18+.  People seem to be looking for a place to give back.  Angels of Assisi is very fortunate that we have attracted and continue to attract WONDERFUL volunteers! 

    Carol Jessee
    Angels of Assisi

  • 8.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-05-2023 10:20 AM

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you for your important work and dedication to help cats in need. I checked out your website and my advice would be to add a clear statement on the home page that you are seeking volunteers, as well as adding a separate tab on top of the page that reads Volunteer. This tab can link to a separate page on your site that describes the volunteer role, and how to apply/sign up. This way, you are creating a clear call to action and making it easy for volunteers to sign up! Retention can be tough, but in my experience, expressing your appreciation for their help, being accessible when volunteers need help or have questions, and relaying their impact goes a long way. 

    Corinne Lawson
    Project and Development Coordinator
    Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachus

  • 9.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-11-2023 03:16 PM

    We have a hard time finding volunteers and and fosters.  People fill out an app and say they want to foster and next thing they get the dog and change their mind and we are stuck without a foster and no fault of the dog.  We need vol to help at events but it seems since Covid people are really self centered and do not honor commitments

    Sandy Cole

  • 10.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-12-2023 09:13 AM

    This is a challenge that is affecting lot of non-profits. Most organizations in all kind of fields in our  area are having difficulties after COVID finding volunteers. We are somewhat in a different position and I can share what has helped us. 

    • Have a designated person focusing on volunteer recruitment, options, program and planning. We were in the fortunate position that through a grant we were able to hire a volunteer coordinator. This helped us to gain clarity our needs, options for volunteers to become active, market the program on social media, hold monthly orientations etc. I know this is not an option for all and it can be done through a volunteer, but it truly helps if someone feels responsible and focused on gaining and retaining volunteers. Now, this position is integrated with our reception.
    • Clarity on volunteer roles, tasks and opportunities: I think this is the most crucial aspect. If you and other members of your team know what volunteers could do, you have an easier time discussing the options and expectations with interested individuals. Also, get creative where people can volunteer and what is needed. Events were mentioned and I can say that the volunteers that help us with events are not the same that help us with animal socialization or cleaning but both are needed and appreciated. We also do not allow kids to be volunteers, but if a youth group or school class wants to do something, we have asked them to draw Thank You cards for adopters etc.. Be open if requests come from the community or individuals there might be things you never have thought of.  Businesses are often looking for a volunteer opportunity for a day for a group of people so it is always helpful to have a few ideas where you could use them be it for facility improvement or other needs. 
    • Volunteer appreciation: This has less to do with nice shirts or gimmicks to offer volunteers but with the attitude you and other members of your team show in the interaction. Because we did not have a clear system in place volunteers who came by the shelter were often seen as more of a burden than a help. This lead to volunteers often only coming by once and that is of course more of a burden. If you have a clear idea what volunteers can do who come once, who come regular etc. this is much easier for staff and leads to a higher appreciation for their commitment.
    • Monthly volunteer orientations: We did hold monthly volunteer orientations but our experience is somewhat similar to what has been discussed before. People sign up and in the end do not really commit. 

    Good luck!

    Nora Paech
    Development Director
    Snake River Animal Shelter

  • 11.  RE: Why can I not get any volunteers

    Posted 06-13-2023 07:20 AM

    You've already had some really good suggestions. A TNR organization is different from sheltering (I'm not sure if you also house cats or work with fosters).

    Our municipal shelter drastically changed the process to become a volunteer, making it extremely easy to do online. In a year and a half we have climbed from 40 total volunteers to having 30-40 volunteers at the shelter A DAY. We have around 350 active volunteers. We have actually paused volunteer onboarding. There is nothing easy to find on your website about the need to volunteer or how to become a volunteer.

    Volunteering is easy to sign up for- people don't have to wait months to get to an orientation. Volunteers can go from the initial signup to getting started in the shelter within a week (depending on how quickly they do their forms and their backgrounds come back).

    Lots of different opportunities. Make them clear and don't ask a lot! Reducing the commitment makes it easier for people to join because there is a lack of pressure. Before you know it, someone who was only planning on volunteering once a month is jumping in any time you need a hand! While volunteer retention is important, depending on your needs, you may be able to also mobilize your community by asking for help just one time for a transport. 

    Provide training and guidance. When volunteers feel lost, they don't have a good time and volunteering becomes stressful.

    Listen to your volunteers. Find out from them what works and what doesn't.

    Again- make it easy. There are tons of volunteer opportunities for people out there. If yours is easier to sign up and get started for than other groups, you will get those volunteers. We have volunteers from other counties who chose our shelter vs their local shelter because our sign up was easier. This doesn't make them lazy or not committed, they just want to get started helping animals sooner.

    Maria Anselmo
    Montgomery County Office of Animal Services
    Derwood MD