Communities and Social Media

The vital role of Social Media in the growth and maintenance of volunteer workforces


The focus of this paper is communities and social media, discussing the role social media plays in the recruitment, engagement, activation, retention and recognition of volunteers and how this is necessary to grow and maintain volunteer workforces. It considers the altruistic motivation of the volunteer and explores how social media can be used to create a sense of belonging and facilitate sharing throughout the volunteer lifecycle. The challenges faced by the not-for-profit sector are acknowledged and the benefits of the relative low cost of using social media to connect with volunteers and connect volunteers with each other. Maximising opportunities to engage and activate volunteerism via social media is explored including communication with the community, the network and beyond. This includes discussion and examples of how hashtags are used strategically to help grow and maintain a volunteer workforce. Similarities with activism in terms of collective action are also considered but are not explored in- depth. The discussion encompasses activation of volunteers in terms of physical mobilisation as well as digitally via virtual communities particularly in relation to a disaster emergency. It concludes that although volunteerism existed long before the advent of social media, today’s volunteer workforce relies on the immediacy and ease with which news and information can be consumed.


Kappelides et al., (2020, para.1) states that due to numerous factors that intersect and impact volunteers at different levels, such as broader socio-demographic patterns including the fragmentation of traditional community life, volunteer recruitment is an area of growing concern particularly for the not-for-profit sector. By their nature, volunteer workforces are transitional as individuals move in and out of volunteer roles. Therefore, growing and maintaining a volunteer workforce can present many challenges for organisations. Today, with the broadening of communities and networks on social media, it is critical that these organisations maximise their opportunities during the lifecycle of a volunteer via the social media platforms available to them. Social Media plays a vital role in the recruitment, engagement, activation, retention and recognition of volunteers and is necessary to the growth and maintenance of volunteer workforces and communities.


Social media has become a resource for the consumption of news by individuals, a relatively inexpensive and effective platform for promoting causes and importantly, a valuable recruitment tool of volunteers. As Kim and Um (2016, para. 6) discuss, social media has seen resource-poor nonprofit organisations have a new way to disseminate their message and communicate directly with potential supporters thereby building their social capital (Coleman, 1988 as cited in Kim & Hastak, 2018, p.87). Further, influenced by a need to belong and share in experiences, users of social media commonly share their own volunteer experiences with others via their social media presence and this flows to the recruitment of more individuals to their volunteer communities. It is argued therefore, that organisations not taking advantage of this important resource run the risk of missing out on opportunities to recruit volunteers to grow their workforces and engage with their communities.


The resulting ease with which organisations can communicate via social media with their existing and potential volunteer communities on an ongoing basis supports the engagement of the volunteer workforce. Delanty (2018) describes community as a system of social relations that entails belonging in the sense of sharing something. At the most basic level, volunteers share altruistic characteristics and in the context of volunteer engagement, share in the experience of helping others whether that be via their physical presence or in a virtual community. The Easter Good Friday Appeal, an annual fundraising event organised on behalf of the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia is a strong example of how sharing in something and creating a sense of belonging via social media contributes to the engagement of volunteers. This Appeal has a strong social media presence with a vibrant website (, a Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts, using hashtags including #goodfridayappeal, #GiveForTheKids and #RoyalChildrensHospital.

When individuals choose to pledge donations or give their time to the Appeal, posting about this on their social media platforms with the hashtags noted above, it generates interest within their community thereby driving feelings of sharing and engagement with the cause. This also drives the engagement of volunteers that may be in the form of volunteering to assist with coin collections during the Appeal, to participating in other fundraising activities during the year. Without this ease of communication via social media, organisations can suffer a significant decline in volunteer numbers who have a tendency to drop off after an event or activity because the cause is no longer top of mind, for example, the passing of the bushfire season.

As communication is a form of connection, Delanty (2018, p.221) explains that virtual communities are communication communities, making belonging more communicative. Considering this, the use of social media by organisations provides an ongoing source of messaging to volunteers, reinforcing a sense of belonging and connection be it from the organisation itself or about the organisation or cause.

Rosenthal et al., (2015, p.140) discusses the relationship organisations have with what they define as their community, network and “the crowd”. For example, an organisation such as the Australian Red Cross (ARC) has a volunteer community on a database and these volunteers are also connected on platforms such as Facebook. The individual volunteers have families, friends and co-workers, who form a network which is the ARC community’s community. The ARC cannot contact these individuals, but their volunteers can. Beyond this is “the crowd” who may receive ARC messages via the network, however, to engage and take action, it requires constant and consistent communication and messaging.

This illustrates how important it is for organisations to have an understanding of the role community, network and the crowd plays in the engagement of the volunteer workforce. Consistent and frequent messaging via social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, is therefore vital to converting the individuals in the crowd and network into members of an active volunteer community. These engaged members may take action in the form of volunteering their time or registering to help.

Delanty (2018, p.221) discusses communication, or the sharing of messages as an essential feature of belonging that is facilitated by virtual communities existing on social media platforms. Whilst it is acknowledged that volunteer organisations have always had the ability to communicate, social media plays an important role in both supplementing and targeting this messaging to specifically communicate with an existing and potential volunteer workforce. This can be achieved via hashtags used across multiple social media platforms. For instance, the hashtag #CleanupAustralia was created for the Clean Up Australia Day campaign ( and is often used in addition to #volunteers, #cleanupaustralia, #saveouroceans as various groups and individuals plan and carry out initiatives throughout the year. This fosters engagement with the wider community and networks to encourage them to contribute to cleaning up Australia, not just on the day of the campaign.

As individuals use these hashtags on their social media platforms, the message underlying Clean up Australia Day is quickly and efficiently communicated. How this supports the engagement of volunteers may be explained in part by Goffman’s (1959) theory as described in Papacharissi (2010, p.304) that an individual’s effort to act and behave in ways that influences how an audience sees him or her is usually with the intent to create, present or maintain a favorable image. That is, social media can be a very powerful tool in engaging others in the performance of an identity an individual wishes their audience to receive. This taps into the altruistic characteristics typical of many volunteers who’s audience may see them as selfless and caring.

Kim and Um (2016, para.2) investigated the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 that attracted world-wide attention and engagement, becoming a social media phenomenon. They explained this high level of engagement by referring to Li’s (2010, p.59) Engagement Pyramid, finding that individuals at the top of the pyramid described as “curating”, used social media because they either wanted to express their identity, to be known for the content that they post on social networking sites or to be recognised by Facebook friends. That is, they were curating appropriate content consistent with the identity they wished to convey. This recognition was suggested to have been one of a success factors of the challenge. Although identify theory in relation to volunteer management is not discussed in-depth in this paper, this example is an illustration of how messaging can reach beyond a network to the crowd, thereby creating significant volunteer engagement. The stronger the engagement the more timely and responsive the activation of the volunteer workforce.


The advent of a disaster, be it natural or man-made, results in significant activation of volunteers. These volunteer workforces often consist of an existing volunteer workforce as well as those who are motivated to help, otherwise known as spontaneous volunteers (Volunteering Victoria, 2020). In times of a bushfire emergency, earthquakes or floods for instance there exists a phenomenon that Nicholas Christakis described in his Ted Talk (2010) as an emotional contagion – a spread of emotion throughout social networks. In the previous ARC example this spread of emotion would travel from the ARC’s community to their community’s community, that is, the network and beyond. This has significant relevance to activating volunteerism.

There are some similarities that exist between the activation of a volunteer workforce and collective action in activism. Both online crowds and social movements are brought together by shared feelings and emotions (Kavada, 2015) and the role of social media in this process is significant. This echoes Delanty’s (2018, p.221) discussion about how community implies belonging in the sense of sharing something. In this case, an emotion and/or experience. Kavada (2015, para.5) discusses social media and collective action, describing people coming together to coordinate and act collectively which is very much the case in mobilising or activating volunteer workforces in response to natural disasters.

Today, social media such as Twitter and Facebook can play an influential role in disaster management by helping to propagate emergency information to disaster-affected communities (Kim & Hastak, 2018, p.1). With the ability to include photos, location details and addressivity (tagging), these social media platforms have been used to disseminate and communicate critical information. For example, the location of emergency relief centres such as those managed by the ARC during the bushfire crisis, as well as assist in the mobilisation of emergency assistance and volunteer efforts to support impacted communities.

During the bushfire emergency in Australia in 2019/2020, social media played a vital role in volunteer activation with much community-based relief effort coming about via citizen journalism (Maares & Hanusch, 2018). #savethekoala was a social media campaign where the sharing of photos on social media platforms of these much-loved creatures suffering on the razed ground resulted in what Christakis (2010) referred to as an emotional stampede – everyone wanted to help. Wildlife welfare agencies were able to provide accurate information that was shared via social media with the community regarding how to handle and care for injured animals. Volunteers were quickly activated and organised to build wildlife care facilities, volunteer veterinarians volunteered their time and community groups grew, formed virtually and on the ground to support the plight of the impacted wildlife and their environment. Although at times social media can be responsible for the dissemination of misinformation, in this example the plight of the koala saw the creation of endless volunteer community groups coming together virtually to help, from sewing protective jumpers for injured koalas to the marketing of products in order to raise funds for their ongoing care. In this example the ongoing contribution from volunteers was significant and demonstrates how social media also plays a significant role in volunteer retention.


Boczkowski et al., (2018) describes volunteer activation as a by-product of the incidental consumption of news on social media. In their research they found that many individuals regularly consume news through their constant use of social media platforms on their smart phones. With individuals regularly consuming news in this way, it also contributes to the retention of volunteers as these users of social media can find out how their contribution to a cause is making a difference, or the progress made in a disaster relief effort that they have been a part of. This is closely related to the immediacy and ease in which messages can be shared in a community and network via social media.

In cases such as disaster response, volunteer activation can at times be described as ephemeral, however social media provides organisations with less costly and vastly more efficient tools to help retain their volunteer workforce. Organisations can cultivate the sense of belonging and sharing amongst volunteers by utilising their social media to share consistent and engaging messaging. For not-for-profit organisations, creating a social culture, by using social media as described by Kanter and Alison (2010, p.46) is of great benefit in fostering two-way conversations about the work of the organisation and its people. By enabling casual interactions between individuals via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for example, volunteers can learn and share experiences on an ongoing basis.

Rosenthal (2015) describes social media as a valuable tool in volunteer retention as it empowers an organisation to create relationships with volunteers and, especially, connect volunteers to each other to build relationships rooted in a positive experience. Borgatti (2011, p.1170) in his discussion about Granovetter’s (1979) theory of the strength of weak ties describes people as being homophilous. Along with possessing a sense of belonging, this term refers to people tending to have stronger ties with others who are similar to themselves. For a volunteer workforce this connection is facilitated by the immediacy of social media and is a key to volunteer retention.

Anyone can find just about anything they wish on the internet. In doing so they can also connect with others who are the same or similar, via social media. This means that through social media volunteers can connect with those who possess the same beliefs, ideals or values as they do. In view of the theories discussed above, facilitating connection between volunteers via an organisation’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for example, has a very positive impact the volunteer lifecycle.

The affordance of relational persistence and sustained awareness as discussed by Hampton (2015) bought about by the widespread use of social media also contributes significantly to volunteer retention. For example, a simple photo posted on a volunteers’ Instagram account showing recognition of their most recent blood donation milestone including the hashtags #donateblood, #savealife creates a perversive awareness that may prompt or remind others in their network to donate blood to Australian Red Cross Lifeblood service.


Whilst praise and recognition is not something altruistic volunteers generally seek in giving up their time and or expertise to a cause, they do appreciate knowing that they are valued and appreciated. Social media platforms provide a means through which organisations can express their gratitude to volunteers on an individual basis, within an organisation’s network, as well as publicly. In doing so, this supports a sense of belonging.

There are numerous ways in which volunteers may be recognised on social media including the posting of a photo, tagging individuals in posts or general news items acknowledging a volunteer effort. In turn, these posts may be shared by these individuals with their community and networks, spreading the recognition far and wide. Not only does this generate recognition for the individual, it also generates positive interest in the work of an organisation or a particular cause/campaign.

Interestingly Kim and Um (2016, para.13) found that recognition via social networks can be more effective with individuals involved in a cause at a low level compared to those volunteers involved at a high level. This suggests that social recognition being the recognition of volunteers via social media platforms may be a driving motivation for these volunteers to increase and continue their involvement with an organisation or cause. In view of this, recognition of volunteers should and can be achieved throughout the volunteer lifecycle. That is from recruitment to activation, retention and eventual exit (Merrilees, 2019). The affordances of social media platforms provide both the stage and audience to achieve this goal.


This paper has presented the view that social media provides unprecedented opportunities for resource-poor organisations in particular, to grow and maintain their volunteer workforces. It is argued that social media plays a significant role in fostering a sense of belonging and is a platform for individuals to share, being essential to maintaining volunteer support. Similarities to activism were briefly explored in terms of the collective action of volunteers and examples of how volunteers may be motivated to act, particularly for emergency relief efforts were explored. It was also argued that the ease with which users of social media can consume news and information is of significant benefit to a volunteer workforce. Recognition of volunteers on social networks was acknowledged as a useful tool to express gratitude as well as promote an organisation or cause to potential volunteers. The performance of identity via social media was also considered as a motivator for individuals to engage in volunteering. Additional research into data reflecting volunteer numbers across various activities and throughout the volunteer lifecycle would provide a more extensive and detailed insight into which social media tools are most vital to growing and maintaining volunteer workforces.


Boczkowski, P. J., Mitchelstein, E., & Matassi, M. (2018). “News comes across when I’m in a moment of leisure”: Understanding the practices of incidental news consumption on social media. New Media & Society, 20(10), 3523-3539.

Borgatti, S. P., & Halgin, D. S. (2011). On Network Theory. Organization Science, 22(5), 1168-1181.

Christakis, N. (2010) The hidden influence of social networks [TedTalks video]. Retrieved from:

Delanty, G. (2018). Community: 3rd edition (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Hampton, K. N. (2016). Persistent and Pervasive Community:New Communication Technologies and the Future of Community. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(1), 101-124.

Kanter, B., Fine, A., & Zuckerberg, R. (2010). The Networked Nonprofit : Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Kappelides, P., Sullivan Mort, G., D’Souza, C., & McDonald, B. (2020). Volunteer Recruitment, Activation, Commitment, and Retention: An Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 32(1), 1-3.

Kim, J., & Hastak, M. (2018). Social network analysis: Characteristics of online social networks after a disaster. International Journal of Information Management, 38(1), 86-96.

Kim, S., & Um, N.-H. (2016). Recognition in social media for supporting a cause: Involvement and self-efficacy as moderators. Social Behavior and Personality, 44(11), 1863-1877.

Li, C. (2010). Open Leadership : How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Maares, P. and F. Hanusch (2018). ‘Exploring the boundaries of journalism: Instagram microbloggers in the twilight zone of lifestyle journalism’. Journalism ,

Merrilees, B., Miller, D., & Yakimova, R. (2020). Volunteer Retention Motives and Determinants across the Volunteer Lifecycle. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 32(1), 25-46.

Papacharissi, Z. (2010). A Networked Self : Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. Taylor & Francis Group.

Rosenthal, R. J., Baldwin, G., & Baldwin, G. (2015). Volunteer Engagement 2. 0 : Ideas and Insights Changing the World. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Volunteering Victoria

22 thoughts on “The vital role of Social Media in the growth and maintenance of volunteer workforces

  1. Hey!
    Your paper was a great read covering such an interesting topic! I can agree with many of the points you have discussed throughout your paper, specifically the utilisation of certain tags as through researching for my own paper, I discovered the importance they actually bring in advocating for any cause (in your case, volunteers). I have left the link for my paper as it discusses the concept of hashtag activism in regards to the #notallmen movement! Give it a read and we can further touch on the power of tags and sharing posts.

  2. Hi Louise,

    Thanks for sharing your paper! It is presented extremely well and I completely agree with the view that social media provides unprecedented opportunities for resource-poor organisations to grow and maintain a volunteer workforce. I really enjoy reading papers which highlight the positive impacts of social media, as it is often over looked in terms of its value to society.

    Social media is also a great tool for raising funds for important causes, in the case of the 2019 bush fires in Australia, more than $73 million was raised through Facebook for the relief fund. This aligns with your key argument that social media can be a motivator and an opportunity to act on change.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Hi Megan
      Thanks very much for your interest in my paper.

      Social media certainly had an unprecedented impact on helping to raising funds for the bushfire relief fund. It was phenomenal wasn’t it?

      I feel that social media as a motivator and an opportunity to act on change certainly sits comfortably under the online advocacy stream of our conference. However in the context of my argument and the communities and social media stream, I hope it was. clear that I was referring to the recruitment and engagement of people virtually or on the ground (as opposed to funds) in the support of a cause or event or need in the community.

      Of course both can be achieved through strategic and targeted use of social media platforms.

      Best regards…Louise

  3. Hi Louise

    Firstly just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your paper and thought your topic was SUPER unique and really well planned out.

    I agree with you 100% that social media is creating unprecedented opportunities for people. I myself have been lucky enough to have been offered some of the best opportunities in my life because of my presence on social media.

    i know social media gets a lot of negative feedback but I strongly believe that like anything there are pros and cons to anything you use. I think there is so much good for businesses, non profit and individual use that can come out of using social media platforms to the best of their ability.

    Excellent read and thank you so much for sharing 🙂


    1. Hi Georgia

      Thank you so much for your interest and comments.
      I apologise for the time it has taken me to do so!

      Regardless of being a lower cost option for charities to help them spread their message I do acknowledge that it may be difficult initially for them to gain the exposure they need to grow their volunteer base when competing with larger organisations with bigger budgets. However I believe that with a consistently applied social media strategy there are greater benefits than not utilising their community and networks in this way.

      Best wishes…Louise

  4. Hi Sierra

    Thank you for your interest in my paper and also your commitment to donating blood!

    I really appreciate your comments and observations and the question you raise regarding how newer charities may tackle engagement with volunteers. Organisations with an existing, large volunteer base certainly have an advantage over newer charities.

    I would suggest that the key to successfully recruiting and engaging with volunteers for these organisations would be to ensure there is a social media strategy in place that is designed to take advantage of the ability of social media to spread clear and consistent messaging through what initially may be a small community of staff, supporters (including friends and family) and volunteers.

    I think Rosenthal et al’s (2015) description of how messaging flows from an organisation’s community to their community’s community and then to ” the crowd” is helpful here. It may start small, however social media provides a relative low cost option for small charities to reach and communicate with potential volunteers.

    Although they may not have the budget to push content on to “the crowd’s” feeds, if the messaging is clear and consistent there is also the potential for those, at times pesky algorithms to pick up posts and add them to social media feeds that may include dis-engaged or potential volunteers. We’ve all experienced Googling something with it suddenly appearing in all of our social media feeds!

    In consideration of this, whilst it is a distinct advantage I don’t believe that an existing volunteer base is essential for a small charity organisation to recruit more volunteers. As Delanty (2018) discusses, the sharing of messages is an essential feature of belonging and in this case the messages may be about the cause or aim of the charity that social media users share with their community that can then encourage others to become volunteers.

    I hope this answers your question.

    Warm regards…Louise

    1. Hi Louise,

      Thanks for getting back to me!

      I definitely agree that friends, family, and the staff of a new charity can spread awareness via social media. In terms of a strategy, do you have any ideas of what this looks like? Many strategies I’ve seen involve regular posts (once a day, once a week, etc.) or targeted hashtags. However, a post is more likely to garner attention if it features imagery. I’ve seen some charities and organisations attempt to mimic this idea by posting an image of text and using colourful fonts and motifs in an attempt to catch a viewer’s eye. Personally, I find this ineffective, and I’m more likely to stop “scrolling” through my social media feed if a true image is posted, and will then move on to read any information included in the caption. Is one of these more effective than the other? In the case of those who post a true image and include information in a caption, is there a certain amount of text that is considered effective in garnering traction? At what point does a caption become an ‘infodump’?

      Algorithms, as you mention, are definitely pesky at times. I’ve seen small businesses attempt to override algorithms by explicitly asking viewers to like, comment, and share their content. Is this something charities can participate in? Does this explicit direction to help an account override a platform’s algorithm and increase its audience reach work?

      Hope to hear from you soon!

      Kind regards,

      1. Hi Sierra

        Many apologies for the delay in my reply to you. Thanks for your thought provoking questions.

        Whilst I didn’t specifically research the most effective social media platforms for NFPs, there are some general rules or guidelines that are most probably useful for any organisation. Further, as noted in the article by Seo (2020) a nonprofit’s adoption and use of social media varies, depending upon both the characteristics of the organisation and the demographics of the individuals working at it (Curtis et al., 2010; Guo & Saxton, 2014; Nah & Saxton, 2013; Seo et al., 2009).

        Along with consistent and clear messaging, the strategy for an online presence needs to be an integrated one. For small NFPs, there would be little benefit to be gained from posting on a social media platform just for the sake of it.

        You mention imagery, and Instagram is often utilised to display powerful images. These can also be shared to Facebook and Twitter for instance. Both of these platforms allowing for a greater reach to large audiences i.e. the crowd particularly via UGC (user generated content), along with information and announcements. Depending on what content the organisation has available to them or can be created, Youtube may also be an option if there are videos that can be used for appeals and the like. These may even be videos captured on an iphone.

        This would assist the new charity in gaining as extended reach as possible with their viewers (or future volunteers) potentially only using one platform or maybe many.

        Knowing when a caption may fall into the category of being an ‘infodump’ is quiet challenging. My advice to a small or start up NFP would be to be guided by other established NFPs and organisations. Brevity is good but it does need to have impact. As mentioned in my paper the strategic use of hashtags and stickers on instagram in particular can be of great benefit in terms of communicating an organisation’s message effectively and clearly thereby reducing the need for including too much information in text.

        I’m afraid I am not able to not answer your question about the success (or otherwise) of attempts to override a platform’s algorithm. This would be a very interesting subject to research. I’m not sure there would be much harm in a small NFP asking their audience to like comment and share their content to held spread their message, rather than override an algorithm.

        Best regards…Louise

        Seo, H., & Vu, H. T. (2020). Transnational Nonprofits’ Social Media Use: A Survey of Communications Professionals and an Analysis of Organizational Characteristics. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 49(4), 849–870.

        1. Hi Louise,

          Thanks for getting back to me!

          You mention charities could use Youtube and other video content to reach large audiences, on top of static imagery. Do you there is any benefit to using a video over an image? I think, potentially, videos may prove effective, however, must be time-limited to retain engagement. Carstens, Doss, and Keys (2018) refer to “episodic” content, in that it allows users to log on and engage with loosely connected content for multiple short periods of time. While their study identifies Youtube as an episodic platform, some videos can run for multiple hours, and it can therefore be concluded the platform is fluid on the spectrum between episodic and non-episodic (Carstens et al., 2018). I think this episodic approach is important for charities, as it allows them to re-engage with past viewers as well as new viewers without requiring prior knowledge of what the charity focuses on. Similarly, content such as GIFs provide a comfortable compromise, in that their motion provides an eye-catching element to gain attention, and can be combined with a short caption to retain and drive further engagement.

          Keen to hear your thoughts!

          Kind regards,

          Carstens, D., Doss, S., & Kies, S. (2018). Social Media Impact on Attention Span. Journal of Management & Engineering Integration, 11(1), 20-27.

  5. Hi Louise,
    Choosing to write about social media and how it can be used by not-for-profits is very insightful and obviously hits home for many of us who enjoy rolling our sleeves up and volunteering.
    I find that nowadays, the only way I know an event is coming up is through social media. I believe you are right in arguing that social media communications by NFP’s has become essential for communicating their message and recruiting volunteers. The real advantage for NFP’s is the communication of their brand narrative’s (their story). Their stories stir emotions (just like activism as stated above) and create connection between the NFP and their audience, developing into loyalty and advocacy. Their stories build communities of like-minded people, that satisfy our sense of belonging.
    But for small NFP’s, getting to this stage does rely heavily on past volunteers willing to advocate and build awareness of the cause and brand. Paid ads in the recruitment of volunteers may form a part of their marketing efforts but may also be met with some skepticism.
    An interesting read. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Vanessa

      I completely agree, I work in Public Relations and the power social media has for us in creating events and letting the public know when they are on is HUGE. I am the exact same I only find out what is happening in Perth when I see it on Facebook or Instagram, I find both social media platforms to be super handy and help my career immensely.

      Enjoyed reading your comment


      Georgia 🙂

      1. Hi Georgia

        That’s a really powerful observation, thanks for sharing this in your reply to Vanessa.


    2. Hi Vanessa

      Thank you for your interest in my paper and your comments relating to small NFPs.

      I would be surprised if they even had sufficient budget to fund paid advertising, this is why a social media presence is even more important today. As you mentioned, the only way you know an event is coming up is via social media and this is what many in the volunteer community may expect nowadays.

      Another considerations, which is one that I have encountered, is that many past volunteers may be from an older generation who are not as savvy with technology and therefore social media in order to spread the message via social media platforms. Not always the case, but it does emphasise the importance of NFPs, no matter how small, implementing a clear and consistent social media plan to reach their intended audience of potential volunteers.

      As you described that plan needs to be able to trigger an emotional response, especially to their story/cause to achieve traction and the spread of their message from their small community to ‘the crowd’.

      Update: I recently discovered (sadly after submitting my paper) a fabulous organisation called Vollie, Vollie provides an online service to match organisations with skilled volunteers in an online capacity, at no cost. This service could be used by a start up NFP to engage with a skilled volunteer to formulate and manage their social media strategy or to help run a specific online campaign. Such a wonderful initiative that would provide great support to NFP’s in the maintenance and growth of their volunteer workforce.

      Best regards…Louise

  6. Hi Louise,
    I myself am a volunteer for an NGO here in Mauritius called APSA, an organization that helps diabetics in Mauritius and abroad. Almost every year APSA reaches out to pretty much the same people every year to do the coin collection because there aren’t many volunteers who come and register. However, your research has inspired me to eventually go and convince the NGO’s board of directors to begin reaching out for volunteers using social media as it appears to be quite effective. I agree with you when you mentioned that there are many volunteers out there waiting to help in person or online, and social media seems to be the best way to get the message out there!

    Thank you for this inspiring read

    1. Hi Luc

      Thank you for reading my paper and I am so pleased that it has provided some inspiration for you to approach your NGO to see if they will consider implementing a social media strategy.

      Given how prevalent social media is in today’s society, I think that it can only be of benefit providing the messaging is clear and consistent. Along with sharing and building on a sense of belonging, as Delanty (2018) says, the use of social media by organisations provides an ongoing source of messaging to volunteers, reinforcing a sense of belonging and connection be it from the organisation itself or about the organisation or cause.

      It may start slowly but as the messaging is spread through APSA’s community to its network and beyond, it can only be a good thing.

      Best wishes…Louise

    2. How cool that your paper has had a positive impact in Mauritius maybe, Louise!
      Luc I was also struck by this – the idea of the community’s community being accessed – and for free!
      I really hope this helps in your work with APSA, Luc,

      1. Absolutely Sonia!
        Wouldn’t that be a wonderful step for APSA and Luc, and it also demonstrates how our #dcnc community can have a positive impact on other communities!
        Best, Louise

    3. Hello again Luc

      I recently came across this organisation in Australia called Vollie –

      It’s an organisation that matches skilled volunteers to non profits and charities in an online capacity. I just thought it might be of interest to you and your work with APSA.

      Best regards..Louise

  7. Hey Louise,

    Thanks for writing on an interesting topic. I’ve done a bit of volunteer work in the Kimberly Region working in a rural Indigenous town called Looma. I stayed there for two weeks working with other volunteers in the local school. It was an extremely valuable experience and I completely agree with you on the importance of social media creating a sense of belonging and giving others a glimpse of what it’s like. I was inspired to volunteer after seeing a paid ad from the organisation posting the experience on Instagram. I can quite comfortably say that I wouldn’t have done the trip if I hadn’t seen a part of the experience on social media.

    It made me think that unless someone is actively looking for volunteer work, the opportunities to find a potential volunteer depend on the popularity of the organisation or how much they’re willing to spend on advertising. In the future, I would definitely like to see social media platforms offering free ad space for non-profit organisations looking to recruit volunteers.

    Thanks for an insightful read!

    1. Hi Matthew

      Thank you very much for you interest in my paper and sharing your own experience in Looma – how wonderful!

      I agree that not for profits would be immensely grateful if social media platforms provided free or even discounted ad space to recruit volunteers.

      In the absence of this, I was hoping the argument I presented illustrates how critical it is for these organisations to maximise the opportunities available to them through the use of social media and their existing volunteer community to tap into extended networks and “the crowd” in order to recruit new volunteers.

      There would be little doubt that well know organisations or causes would find it easier to attract volunteers, however perhaps in your own example you might come across content on social media posted by a member of your community or network that would draw your attention and generate your interest in a volunteer opportunity with a lesser known organisation or cause.

      Thanks again.

  8. Hi Louise,

    This was a really interesting paper! As a volunteer (a regular blood donor for the Red Cross) myself, I can appreciate many of the points you’ve made here.

    In discussion volunteer recruitment and engagement, you note that many organisations use tags to spread content and invite existing volunteers to reiterate the sentiments shared in such posts through their own content. I’ve also noticed organisations (such as the Red Cross) add shareable content to Instagram “stories”, enabling existing volunteers to spread potential call-outs (such as the need for specific blood-type donors) by reposting or sharing any imagery to personal accounts. Outside of organisations that can afford to push posts onto the feeds of non-engaged users through Instagram’s paid marketing features, taking a social media approach to volunteer marketing and recruitment is, arguably, also reliant on volunteers. In the case of newer charities attempting to build a brand and reputation, this may limit engagement with potential volunteers. How would you recommend new charities without the large volunteer-base of well-known organisations tackle this?

    Keen to hear your thoughts!

    Kind regards,

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