Tennessee Nonprofit Network

How to Mitigate the Gender Gap in Volunteering

Have you noticed that your volunteer program has more female volunteers and is lacking in gender diversity? You aren’t alone. There’s a significant difference in the number of male volunteers compared to female volunteers in the United States. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Percentage: Women make up a larger portion of volunteers, around 64% compared to 36% for men.
  • Numbers: Translating to actual numbers, this translates to roughly 7 million female volunteers and 4 million male volunteers on an average day.
  • Trends: Interestingly, while volunteer rates have dipped slightly in recent years, the decline has been steeper for women than men.

A well-rounded volunteer pool brings a wider range of skills and perspectives to the table. So, how can you attract a more diverse group of volunteers, including men and people of all genders? Here are some key strategies:

Tailor Your Messaging:

  • Focus on Impact and Skill-Building: Many people, regardless of gender, are motivated by a desire to make a difference and develop new skills. Frame your volunteer opportunities around these themes. For example, instead of “Help care for animals,” try “Be a part of the solution to pet homelessness: Foster animals in need!”
  • Highlight Teamwork and Community Building: Many people value collaboration and a sense of belonging. Emphasize the opportunity to work alongside others while making a real impact in the community.

Expand Your Recruitment Channels:

  • Target Community Groups and Networks: Consider partnering with organizations that serve diverse populations. This could include LGBTQ+ centers, men’s service organizations, sports leagues, or professional associations. These groups often have a strong sense of community and might be eager to give back.
  • Utilize Diverse Media Platforms: Advertise your program in publications or online spaces frequented by a variety of demographics. This could include local community papers, social media groups geared towards different interests, or online platforms serving specific populations.

Offer Flexible Opportunities:

  • Promote Short-Term Projects or Events: Recognize that people might have less time to commit on a regular basis. Offer one-time events, weekend projects, or short-term volunteer opportunities to make participation easier.
  • Showcase Volunteer Roles with Clear Time Commitments: Be upfront about the time commitment for each role. This allows everyone to easily identify opportunities that fit their schedules.

Showcase the Impact of Diverse Volunteers:

  • Feature Diverse Volunteers in Your Marketing Materials: Let potential volunteers see themselves reflected in your program. Use photos, quotes, or testimonials from current volunteers of all genders and backgrounds to showcase the positive impact they have.
  • Highlight Opportunities Where Everyone Can Excel: Many volunteer programs need mentors, coaches, administrative support, or construction volunteers. Promote these roles and how they leverage the strengths of people from all walks of life.

Create a Welcoming Environment:

  • Offer Training and Support: Ensure all volunteers, regardless of gender identity or expression, feel equipped and supported. Provide clear training and ongoing guidance for your volunteer roles.
  • Organize Inclusive Social Events for Volunteers: Foster a sense of camaraderie by hosting volunteer appreciation events or team-building activities that cater to a broad range of interests.


  • Be Inclusive: Use gender-neutral language throughout your recruitment efforts and program materials.
  • Track Your Results: Monitor the success of your recruitment efforts and adapt your strategies to reach a wider audience.

By implementing these suggestions, you can expand your volunteer base and create a more diverse and impactful program. Both your organization and the community you serve will benefit from the skills and dedication of a wider range of volunteers working together.

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