Webinar Recap: Ensuring Opportunity Effectiveness in Your Pajamas While Recruiting Online

Best Practices for Recruiting OnlineOne of VolunteerMatch’s most successful opportunities ever was called, “Save the World in Your Pajamas.” The title was simple, catchy and effective – one strategy that can help attract volunteers to your cause.

In 2010, VolunteerMatch enabled nonprofits to recruit 200,000 new volunteers. On July 7, our Volunteer & Nonprofit Engagement Manager Jennifer Bennett presented a webinar that shared details about how you can best recruit volunteers online – so you can not only find great volunteers, but the right volunteers.

A VolunteerMatch user survey found that the number one volunteer recruitment method behind word-of-mouth is online recruiting. Online recruiting can help diversify your volunteer base and familiarize more people with your cause.

A good opportunity listing can garner many referrals.  But a grammatically incorrect, jargon-filled post that outlines more than one opportunity might make potential volunteers steer clear. So it’s important to craft your opportunity right.

VolunteerMatch is an ideal place to recruit volunteers online. It’s the first hit that comes up when you type “volunteer” on Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines. But once a potential volunteer finds your listing, how can you entice the best volunteers possible? Jennifer detailed eight guidelines:

  • Make the Title Work for You: As mentioned above, the best titles are catchy, fun, interesting, and stand out in the vast sea of possibilities.
  • Keep It Brief: Only list one opportunity per listing, and do so in 100 or fewer words.
  • Word It Simply and Use Welcoming Language: The nonprofit world is full of jargon that, though familiar to most nonprofit organizations, can confuse potential volunteers. Volunteers are more likely to identify their volunteer work as “tutoring kids” rather than “social justice through literacy training.”
  • Make an Impact: The best opportunities include a strong call to action early on in their listings. Why should the potential volunteer get involved? How will participating in your opportunity improve someone else’s life?
  • Provide Direction: Be clear about the time commitment and potential restrictions for volunteers, such as necessary training required or an age limit. If your opportunity involves a car or a specific degree, denoting this information will limit the number of volunteers that won’t pan out.
  • Make It Visually Appealing: On VolunteerMatch, a Community Leader Premium account allows you to add pictures to your opportunity listing. The most effective pictures show volunteers in action, not just standing around.
  • Remember to Edit: Many of the opportunities that do not garner responses have spelling or grammatical errors. So use spell-check and proofread.
  • View Your Listing as a Volunteer: If you were a volunteer, what would attract you to a certain opportunity? Use a critical eye while creating your opportunity to maximize its effectiveness.

It’s also important to keep track of your referrals, which VolunteerMatch makes easy. This way you can log the effectiveness of different opportunity listings. You can put different slants on similar opportunities to entice volunteers with particular interests or experience. Descriptions that provide opportunities for volunteers to develop specific skills are often successful, as well.

By using the techniques listed above, you can motivate even more people to volunteer with your organization. And to get some helpful guidance about the importance of position descriptions, sign up for Writing Accurate and Useful Volunteer Position Descriptions webinar on August 4th at 11 AM PST.

Laura Weiss is an intern at VolunteerMatch. You can reach her at lweiss@volunteermatch.org.

(Photo by hoodiefanatic)