Guest post by Laura Moisei
Today’s volunteer wannabe is hyper-connected, web-savvy and eager to make use of any information she can get in the quest for a good cause to volunteer for. As Kari Saratovsky shows, the journey of every volunteer’s involvement with your cause starts off with a good dose of research. “Who is behind this organization and why should I volunteer for it?” These are natural concerns that arise before deciding to actually become a volunteer.
Your website is the first voice that can offer everybody a clear answer to these questions (and should). Wondering if you really need a website? You do. Even if you delegate volunteer recruitment to online platforms purposely designed for this (like VolunteerMatch), you still have to make a good presence on the web in order to build trust and stir engagement.
What if your website is the elephant in the dining room for your volunteer recruitment? Here are the top 5 fouls to avoid when managing a recruitment campaign of your own:
1. Website? We don’t have such a thing.
Not being on the web is not an option today. In any field of activity your organization may have, the absence of a website will turn away the vast majority of candidates for volunteering. Don’t worry, building an online presence will not necessarily take gobs of time and money, provided you have the essential tools around.
2. Lack of background information about your organization
The hot spot for your visitors is the “About” page. Make sure you have one and that it’s offering reliable information about your organization’s mission, programs and services. It’s a seal of trust to also display the IRS Form 990 or your country’s equivalent of it if possible.
3. No contact method
A smart contact form that asks for people’s feedback and inquiries is a key element of your nonprofit’s website. Such a form has many utilities and can even act as a donation form. Along with this form, it’s a good idea to also display a physical contact method, such as a phone number, for your volunteers to stay in touch.
4. Social media engagement is absent or very low
People need to identify with your cause or, by extension, find that their friends or likeminded people do. Social media is often the barometer of engagement that tells the outer world about the dimension of your fan base. You can easily embed social media widgets and share buttons on your website, and explore other tips for using social media here.
5. Failing to pay homage to your donors and volunteers on the website
Publishing testimonials from people who have worked with you is a great motivator and helps boost your brand image as a whole. Don’t forget you need to ask for people’s permission first in order for their names to be published.
Just one more thought before you go – it’s easy to overdo things. You don’t need all the bells and whistles that web development companies present you. A minimal website can sometimes prove more successful than a fancy online portal that is not so easy to manage.
Keep things simple, maintain the human touch with every material you create for presenting your organization, and you shall succeed.
Laura Moisei has a degree in Journalism and is involved in social causes for her community. She currently works for 123ContactForm, a tool that helps nonprofits create effective volunteer recruitment forms.
(Photo from: freedigitalphotos.net)