Guest post by Kayla Matthews.
Nonprofits often struggle to find new and innovative ways to recruit volunteers. While some stick with traditional methods, such as newspapers and print ads, others utilize pop-up ads or even promoted posts on social media. These strategies will distribute your volunteer opportunities to a large audience, but they rarely offer the personal touch that converts a prospect to a full-fledged volunteer.
That’s where targeted email marketing comes in. It can help you attract attention, earn clicks, and engage potential volunteers for your organization. Here are six ways to get started.
1. Engage in Permission Marketing with Opt-In Materials
How can you reach an audience that’s genuinely interested in the email content you’re sending? With a technique known as permission marketing.
Permission marketing involves getting approval from your target audience to send them valuable content. This typically involves creating a free downloadable resource that can be unlocked by entering an email and selecting if they’d like to opt into future communications.
For volunteer recruitment, this might involve creating a whitepaper filled with statistics about how volunteers helped an organization meet its targets. Or, you could provide a downloadable checklist of things to bring to every volunteer shift, such as a notebook and pen, plus a rain jacket if working outdoors, for people to download and use.
Permission marketing ultimately allows you to build a contact list of potential volunteers, which can be used for future recruitment needs and campaigns.
2. Build Trustworthiness by Mentioning Certifications or Credentials
Potential volunteers may feel reluctant to engage with your organization further if they have uncertainties related to your credibility or trust. However, these thoughts can be easily dissuaded by promoting any certifications or credentials your organization holds, like an ISO certification, in your email signature. You can also share any accolades your organization has received.
If you’re a nonprofit, you may also want to include your employer identification number (EIN), so volunteers can easily verify your organization’s 501(c) status with the IRS. You may also want to share links from third-party sources that can confirm that your organization is legitimate and does what it claims.
3. Address Common Volunteer Questions Right Off the Bat
Prospective volunteers often have questions before committing their time — answer them directly via email before their interest lapses. You might create a section in your newsletter for need-to-know information for volunteers and answer one question in each edition.
Include a compelling call-to-action or a signup link after providing the information, too. This approach gives volunteers the knowledge they need to reduce any doubts they have while also urging them to engage in another desirable behavior: signing up to volunteer.
4. Share the Perspectives of Current Volunteers
If you’re looking for email content, a volunteer spotlight is an excellent choice. Your prospective volunteer recipients will appreciate learning about the experiences of current volunteers. Plus, volunteer spotlights sent via email provide a great opportunity to also recognize hardworking individuals.
Consider focusing on a volunteer who handles an unexpected duty or works in an uncommon role at your organization. Then you can show how your volunteer engagement program is structured and how you offer numerous roles for your volunteer base. Sometimes individuals assume their skills don’t fit what volunteers typically do, so calling attention to all the ways volunteers serve could open their minds.
5. Give Impact Updates
Carefully crafted emails foster ongoing volunteer engagement and can inspire people who are still hesitant about giving their time and talents as volunteers. Send regular impact updates that pinpoint the exact ways your volunteers’ efforts make a difference for the people you serve.
You could even ask a client for a direct quote about how the organization helped them for the next email you send. Otherwise, use comparative statistics and other quantitative measures to illustrate the amount of change across time.
Use conversational language and regularly discuss how your organization wouldn’t reach so many people without the help of dedicated volunteers. Bullet points could aid recipients who are scanning the email to find the most important takeaways.
When you remind your supporters of the impact your organization has in the community, you’ll inspire them to take part and do what they can to contribute to future progress by volunteering.
6. Simplify the Commitment and Volunteer Signup Process
Scheduling flexibility is an excellent recruiting tactic to focus on through email marketing. Many people who volunteer may be doing so during hours when they aren’t at a paying job or trying to balance volunteer obligations with family responsibilities. Sending emails about how your organization has a simple signup process or flexible shifts could appeal to potential volunteers.
Call to actions (CTAs) in your email can even prompt subscribers to peruse your volunteer opportunities online. By linking to volunteer management platforms, like SignUp.com, you’ll provide an easily accessible way for people to see open shifts before committing to them.
Additionally, linking to your VolunteerMatch profile page will allow potential volunteers to find a project that works for their schedule, skills or interests. This option also reduces administrative headaches for the people responsible for volunteer staffing while encouraging volunteers to take ownership of their chosen time slots.
Alternatively, you could create a document in Google Sheets that shows all volunteer needs for a given week or month. You could then link to it in an email as well.
By sending sign-up forms and including engaging CTAs, you will guide your email subscribers to convert into committed volunteers.
Adapt These Tips as Required to Meet Your Needs
The ways you use these tips will vary depending on the size of your email list, how often you send messages or the number of staff members working on email marketing in your organization. As such, you’ll achieve optimal results by tweaking the suggestions to make them fit your unique volunteer recruitment needs and obstacles.