Case Studies in Volunteer Recruiting: Shows How Good Design and Storytelling Can Fuel Engagement

screenA case study at Fast Company this week looks at how the TED Conference and the design agency Hot Studio conspired to use thoughtful design, engaging storytelling, and access to the VolunteerMatch network to help fulfill 826 founder Dave Eggers’ wish to get more people involved in local schools.

Eggers’ was honored by the TED Conference last year with its annual TED Prize for leadership and vision. Outside of the nonprofit sector, he’s best known as the writer and publisher, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Eggers used his wish for a remarkably creative request:

“I wish that you — you personally and every creative individual and organization you know — will find a way to directly engage with a public school in your area, and that you’ll then tell the story of how you got involved, so that within a year we have 1,000 examples of innovative public-private partnerships.”

Thus was born, an amazing Web destination that inspires and educates volunteers before giving them a way to jump off to VolunteerMatch to get involved.

In the Fast Company piece, writer Alyssa Walker explores Hot’s approach to creating a “simple but engaging way for anyone to browse the stories, and connect them directly with the volunteer opportunity,” as Hot Studio CEO and founder Maria Giudice puts it.

The result? A year after launch, has collected more than 250 stories and sent nearly 900 visitors to VolunteerMatch to find a great opportunity.

Of course, not every nonprofit has access to an award-winning design agency. But the piece is still a reminder for nonprofits about one of the basic truths of volunteer engagement: storytelling works.

Not only does storytelling help inspire people to want to get involved, but it gives volunteers a way to complete the loop of their own involvement by sharing their experiences — and especially how they’ve grown from their volunteer time — with others.

One way we’re helping to facilitate this is through our Recommendations & Reviews feature, which lets volunteers post feedback about their time with organizations directly at Be sure to let your best volunteers know they can help you by posting their recommendations.