how to recruit volunteers effectively

How to Make Volunteer Recruitment Simple by Writing Better Headlines

Confession: I spent over an hour writing the headline for this blog post. Wanna know how many titles I drafted before I settled on the one you clicked? 28. Yep, I wrote 28 different headlines about how to recruit volunteers effectively using headlines…

Sure, this seems like overkill, but let me tell you why it’s not.

People are spending over 2 hours a day on their phone, tablet, or computer. They are perusing news sites, scrolling through apps, checking their social accounts, gobbling up blog posts… There is an endless stream of media volunteers interact with every day.

But, in order to recruit volunteers effectively, you have to first get their attention.

This is not easy.

Your nonprofit might have innovative content, an amazing cause, awesome graphics, and a website with exceptional usability. But, if volunteers aren’t compelled to click onto your website, they’ll never know any of that cool stuff.

Places to Use Your Killer Headlines

Your #1 job as a copywriter is to get volunteers to read the next sentence. This is where great headlines come in. Here are a few places you can use the awesome micro-content you write:

Now that you know where you’re gonna put these stellar sentences, read on to learn how to recruit volunteers effectively using 3 research-based tactics.

Each suggestion has real-life examples of the highest-converting headlines we’ve used on our VolunteerPro blog (as well as links if you want to learn more about these fan favorite topics)

Recruit Effectively Step 1: Know Your Volunteers’ Pain Points

Top VolunteerPro Headlines

5 Unappreciated Reasons Why Volunteers Quit
This is How to Design an Excellent Volunteer Program Budget
How to Restore Healthy Boundaries for Volunteer Coordinators

Why They Work

We know from our annual Volunteer Management Progress Report that some of the top challenges for volunteer coordinators are recruitment and retention, lack of funding and staff buy-in, and being overworked or wearing too many hats.

So, we wrote headlines to specifically address those pain points. Less volunteer turnover means less time recruiting and more successful retention. A well designed budget proposal mean more resources for managing and recruiting volunteers. Successfully implementing healthy boundaries means better job satisfaction and long-term employment.

You get the picture. So, when crafting volunteer recruitment messaging, make sure you know what makes your volunteers tick. What do they need? What motivates them?

Research-based Volunteer Motivations

how to recruit volunteers effectively

Citation: Clary, E. Genet al., “Understanding and assessing the motivations of volunteers: A functional approach,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (1998) 74, 1516-1530

You can also check out this post for more on volunteer motivations.

When you can easily answer these questions, write ads based on the answers. Hone the entire idea down into an actionable headline, and you’ll have more volunteers knocking at your door.

Recruit Effectively Step 2: Use Lists and How Tos

Top VolunteerPro Headlines

How to Recruit Volunteers Online with Powerful Calls to Action
3 Easy Steps to Recruit Volunteers Using Power Words
How to Write Better Volunteer Recruitment Messaging

Why They Work

We all know leaders of volunteers are busy. Volunteers are too! Heck, everyone is busy these days. So, when crafting headlines to recruit volunteers effectively, make sure they obviously honor your volunteers’ time. Here are some examples.

Use: How to Start Impacting Your Community Today!
Instead of: Impact Your Community by Volunteering with XYZ Nonprofit

Use: 3 Simple Ways to Give Shelter Animals a Second Chance
Instead of: Ways to Take Care of Shelter Animals

Use: 6 Reasons Working with Animals Makes You Healthier
Instead of: Studies Show Working with Animals Improves Health

Sure, volunteers want to make an impact, but how long is it going to take? When can they start? Will there be a long screening process? Quickly squash these barriers to entry right in your headline, and people will be more likely to click.

Recruit Effectively Step 3: Use Power Words and Emotional Words

Top VolunteerPro Headlines

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Volunteer Surveys
All You Need to Know for Successful Volunteer Leadership Development
How to Enhance Volunteer Training With Peer-to-Peer Mentoring
How to Integrate Volunteer Onboarding for Better Engagement

Why They Work

Spend two minutes on your chosen media outlet and you’ll encounter the latest politically-angered mob, devastating disaster, or mind-numbing hilarity. There is no middle ground in the media. Everything is emotionally charged because that’s what gets clicks.

This doesn’t mean you should advertise something untrue about your nonprofit. But, it does mean you should figure out what emotions your volunteers respond to and use them for more effective recruitment.

Here are some good examples of words that will help you get traction when recruiting volunteers.

Emotional Words: astonishing, authentic, behind the scenes, bravery, certified, chance, deadline, lifetime, limited, pioneering

Power Words: before you forget, big, free, instantly, complete, is what happens when, better

You can also check out this blog post for a deeper dive into power words.

Recruit Effectively Step 4: Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

how to recruit volunteers effectively

Keep Them Short

You’ll notice none of our top headlines are over 9 words. That’s because after you spend so much time crafting the perfect, click-worthy headline, you don’t want part of it to be cut off by search engines. You want all your headlines to be within the viewable limit.

Write Lots of Them

Marketing gurus suggest writing at least 25 headlines for each piece of content. You can see how many variations I went through. Some were better than others, and some didn’t address the specific need I was trying to solve.

Since less than 20% of people will ever click through to your content. It makes sense to settle on the best, right headline.

Test ‘Em

There are lots of headline analyzers out there. At VolunteerPro, we use Coscehdule’s. They break down each headline into 4 parts, tell you what length it should be, give you word suggestions, and even let you preview what it will look like in Google.

Keep Honing Your Writing Skills

When you see good headlines, save them to inspire you later. Keep what’s called a “swipe file” in the copywriting industry that you can refer to when you need to come up with something new. Copywriters learn from one another. As long as you don’t copy others word for word, you’ll be fine.

There is a lot that goes into recruiting volunteers effectively. Make sure your hard work is appreciated by optimizing each headline you write.