Communicating with the Primitive Brain in Volunteer Recruitment Ads
People have so little “extra” time that now, more than ever, our messages occupy a crowded landscape. Even if your volunteer/potential volunteer has opted into your communication, you’re still competing with all the other information they are interested in receiving via email, text, social, direct mail, etc.
How do you get your volunteer recruitment ads or emails to cut through all that noise?
Sometimes, in an effort to get as much information out as possible, we jam tons of topics into one message. Or, we shout down the audience with bold proclamations and requests.
If we remember that we’re talking to a real person with real challenges and a real heart for your mission, we can start to see why this kind of chaotic, desperate communication rarely gets the desired results.
Do you like 3-page emails? Do you enjoy being guilted or shouted at on Facebook? I’m going to guess the answer is no.
On the flip side, what catches your attention? What stops your social media scroll? What kind of ads do you honestly read?
A good portion of what will get your attention is exactly the same for nearly every human being.
We’re inundated with information and since we cannot process it all, we involuntarily rely upon instinct to tell us what’s important and what’s not. It’s true for you and it’s true for your potential volunteers. How? Because our human brains react based on cues.
The Primitive Brain and Volunteer Recruitment Ads
The primitive human brain has six main triggers that are responsible for that involuntary attention grab we all experience. Consider using one of these in your next volunteer recruitment ad.
Self-Motivated: Our primitive brains are completely self-centered. Even though volunteers may join us for altruistic reasons, our brains respond to “what’s in it for me.”
Clear Contrast: Our primitive brains are always looking for things that clearly stand out as different from the norm. We used this to help instinctively identify danger. Now our brains can pinpoint when something is worth our attention.
Quick Input: The primitive brain processes information quickly. This is why bite-sized info is more likely to stop your scroll.
Beginning & Ending: The primitive brain focuses on the beginning and end of things. When scanning for information, it looks for key pieces, which are often found in the before & after.
Visual: When we say we are visual creatures, it’s true. The optic nerve is forty times faster than the auditory nerve, which means visual inputs hit our brain faster. Consequently, we make decisions largely because of visual input.
Emotional Appeal: Emotions make memories, events, and stories stick in the brain. Connecting to emotions makes a message more likely to catch attention and keep it.
Use the Primitive Brain, Don’t Overload It
When using these triggers in your recruitment, aim for simplicity. As you can tell from this list, the primitive brain is not triggered by complexity.
The goal is to get more eyeballs on your volunteer recruitment ad, so playing to the primitive brain will help drive that goal. Not every set of eyeballs will sign up to be a volunteer, but you can increase the opportunities just by positioning your ad for easier consumption.
At VolunteerPro, we know that volunteer recruitment is one of your top challenges. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be looking at practical ways you can improve your recruitment strategies so that you gain solid volunteers who stay committed to your work.
If this is a topic that challenges you and your organization, we’ve got a few other resources that can help you design a recruitment system that keeps your organization full of high-quality volunteers.
If you’d really like to advance your recruitment strategy (and training, and volunteer experience, and impact…) then you need to check out a VolunteerPro Membership.
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