How to Write Volunteer Recruitment Ads That Will Answer 4 Questions

In all volunteer recruitment ads, prospective volunteers must quickly and easily get the answers to their burning questions, no matter how brief the posting.  Don’t make them work hard to get this information, or you’ll risk losing them before you’ve even started.

Try to develop statements that answer these in a sentence or two.  And, try to use human language.  Leave out the acronyms and “501c3 speak.”  People are partly volunteering as a social act, so help them understand your unique personality and something about the people they’ll be working with through your choice of words.  It’s OK to make your volunteer gig sound fun and lighthearted, too, even if the work they do is serious.  And, keep the tone aspirational versus apocalyptic.  People are looking for something that is hopeful, not hopeless.

The Four Most Important Questions in Your Volunteer Recruitment Ads

1) Is there a community need?
People want to know that what they will be doing will have a concrete impact.  You might use some statistics to convey this info, but better yet, use a short story of a single person who has benefited from your work.  Also, people are looking to see if their passions match yours before they sign on.

2) Does your organization have a solution?
Some people call this your organization’s “theory of change.”  It is basically the steps you take to alleviate the problem (i.e., by providing caring mentors, by educating the public on their options, by helping pet owners spay and neuter their animals, etc.).  People want to know what your organization does, specifically, to address the problem.  You don’t need to go into the nitty-gritty details.  Rather, give a quick overview, or bullet list of your key activities. 

3) Can I make a difference here?
Even if you can identify your cause and solution clearly, potential volunteers still want to know whether your organization has the capacity to get the work done.  They are looking to see if you are professional, organized, have sufficient resources, and have been successful in the past.  Again, stories about how lives have changed work well to convey this information.  Also, a short testimonial from a current volunteer about the impact they’ve made personally gives people important clues.

4) How do I get involved?
This is your call to action and absolutely must be in every appeal.  Be extremely specific about what you want people to do.  “Volunteer today!” is too vague.  Give specific instructions and information about how to contact the person accepting applications directly and any relevant info about how to get started with the application process or how to learn more.  Be sure to give the name, phone, and email of a real person, not a generic inbox.  And, make plans to answer any inquiries within 24 hours.

Remember to edit, edit, edit, and edit some more.  Craft appeals that are as brief as possible, but also complete.  For example, your stories can be one or two sentences long as long as they convey the critical info.  Finally, use approachable language that anyone can understand.

If you answer these four questions you’ll be well on your way to giving prospective supporters the information they need to make the right decision, which we hope will be to join your team!