How to: Write an Effective Volunteer Opportunity Listing
This is the first post by Olesya Salnikova, who works for TVC as a grant writer and Americorps VISTA. She is also the primary author of our “Volunteer Management Monthly” newsletter, from which this blog post is taken.
Volunteer recruitment is increasingly relying on the internet, as more and more individuals look for volunteer opportunities online. It is therefore critical to know how to design effective volunteer listings that have a clear description of the opportunity in a positive and appealing way. The advantage of such a written description is that the duties, expectations, and responsibilities of both the volunteer and the organization are outlined clearly. Knowing the requirements of volunteer jobs in advance simplifies the selection, recruitment, and the management of volunteers. Be sure to include ONLY one opportunity per listing when you write your descriptions. Here are some more tips to help you with this task:
- Don’t forget the title – In some ways, you can think of the title as the most important element of your listing since it is usually the first thing that a volunteer notices. Make your title not only informative, but compelling and fun, so that the volunteer will be as excited about the opportunity as you are!
- Keep it brief – Your job is to get the volunteer’s attention in as few words as possible. According to research, a listing should be an average of 100 words. At the same time, you should still include all the pertinent information about your organization and the volunteer opportunity.
- Simplify, simplify, simplify – Use terms that the volunteer will relate to and make your opportunity easy to understand. Avoid using any complicated words or industry jargon that the volunteer might not understand. Keep your sentences short and succinct. Individual paragraphs should not be more than three sentences each and it is advisable that your listing should have an average of five total sentences.
- Make an impact – Describe the mission of your organization and how it makes an impact in your community. Be especially clear about how your volunteers play a role in it.
- Provide direction and support – Volunteers want to know that they are needed, so be sure to give them information on training, location, etc.
- Make it visually appealing – Include a picture or a graphic that would intrigue the volunteer and draw their attention to your listing.
- Edit – Always check for spelling and grammar. Have someone else read through your opportunity before posting it.
With these tips, you are now ready to write your volunteer opportunity. Be sure to include the following elements in your description: position title, supervisor, goal or purpose of the position, major responsibilities, time commitment, qualifications (both required and desired), work location, benefits to volunteer, and the date of the position design. If you need more help constructing successful volunteer opportunity listings, please visit the following websites:
- “Developing Volunteer Job Descriptions” by Mary V. Merrill on World Volunteer Web
- “Putting Your Best Face Forward: Designing Opportunities for Online Recruitment” by volunteermatch.org
- Volunteer Work Design Resources, posted on energizeinc.com
Is anything missing from this list? Does anyone else have suggestions on how to attract the attention of potential volunteers and get them to sign up? Then leave a comment below!
This story is taken from our Volunteer Management Monthly Newsletter. To sign up to receive the newsletter, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.