A volunteer job description is an important communications and accountability tool. They map out expectations and indicate clear boundaries. If a volunteer’s duties are clearly outlined in writing, both you and the volunteer have something to fall back on if there’s a misunderstanding.
Volunteer job descriptions probably aren’t the highlight of your volunteer induction process. Let’s face it, they tend to be a bit boring and dry, full of bureaucratic language and “thou shalt’s. But, when used correctly, nothing is better to inspire your new recruit! And, nothing is better to find the right recruit.
At minimum, each volunteer job description should be explicit on how long the assignment will last, what will be produced, and what benefits there are both to the volunteer and to the organization.
You’ll likely, however, want to go above and beyond the minimum. We’ve all hired volunteers only to realize they aren’t a good fit for the mission. Putting the right information in your volunteer job description will reduce that issue.
Read on for 10 things every volunteer job description should have and special sauce ways to attract the right volunteer for the right job.
Free [Cheat Sheet] The Top 10 Volunteer Interview Questions
Ask these questions during your interviews to make sure volunteers are a
good fit for your nonprofit.
10 Things Every Volunteer Job Description Should Have
Beyond just the nuts and bolts, read your description as if you were a potential volunteer who knows little-to-nothing about your organization. Would the job description entice you to commit your time and talents? Make sure you’ve got all the following sections, and jump to the bottom for tactic to find the perfect volunteer.
1. Job Title – The job title is more important than you might think. You want the volunteer to feel important, but not puffed up. And, you want to accurately describe the role. Think of the job title as a ways of distilling the entire job description down into a couple words.
2. Duties and Responsibilities – Include a bullet list of specific duties and requirements. You’ll want to use action verbs and present tense to give volunteers a concrete idea of their day-today. Also, make sure to describe only one duty or task at a time.
3. Time Requirements – Provide a realistic number of hours required per week/month, as well as the length of commitment with a start and end date.
4. Location – Include the primary location where the work will be performed.
5. Work Environment – Let the volunteer know any special tools that will be used or info about physical requirements of the job. This is also the place to include a dress code if you have one.
6. Skills & Qualifications – Here, you’ll want to list only the essentials. Make sure to address any misconceptions about what is required. If you have other desirable but not required qualifications, add another section for that.
7. Orientation & Training – You don’t have to go into depth here, but you’ll want to give the volunteer an idea of what they’re getting themselves into. Include the length of the orientation with a date and training dates if you have them.
8. Supervision & Support – Include who the volunteer’s direct supervisor will be and their contact info.
9. How to Apply with Links – Link to application form and detail where and when to submit it, what to include, contact name and info for recruiter. Especially if you’re using job posting sites, one of the easiest ways to frustrate a potential volunteer (and probably send them packing) is to leave out a link to your website and a link to apply.
The Special Sauce: 5 Ways to Find the Right Person
Besides laying out what a position will look like, the main purpose of a volunteer job description is to find the right volunteer. In order to that you, you need to really think about your messaging, your target audience, and your volunteer’s potential motivations.
Check out some of the following and turn it into a “Why Volunteer for Us” section at the bottom of the job posting.
1. The Impact of the Role – What have other volunteers achieved through this role? How does the work affect the community and people served by the program? Why does it matter in the scope of your mission? By including what volunteers in this role are already doing, you add momentum by showing what’s possible.
2. Goals for the Role – This is a good place to play to the motivations of the kind of volunteer you’re searching for. A career-motivated volunteer may be more likely to apply if one of the goals is professional development. A social-oriented volunteer may be enticed by the chance to network. How can you align your goals with the volunteer’s?
3. The Benefits Volunteers Will Receive – What are the perks for volunteering? Is it making new friends, is it free lunch? These don’t have to be monetary. In fact, they are better if they are not. Do, however, include whether or not reimbursement for expenses is offered and what kind of training and professional development will be available.
4. Testimonials – Social proof is a powerful tool and can support your volunteer job descriptions well. Include 3-5 quotes from volunteers, clients, and paid staff about the value of volunteers and the particular role in question. Why do volunteers enjoy this work? How would they recommend it to others? Why are staff grateful for their involvement? Why do clients appreciate the support volunteers offer? By including testimonials you reinforce that your organization is truly worthy of a deep commitment.
5. Team Values – When you include what values your team exhibits, you allow the right person find your position. A short bullet list is all it takes to let the wrong person for the job move on to something else.
Take a look at your volunteer job descriptions. Would they entice you to commit your time and talents? Would they inspire you to get started right away? If not, think about refreshing them with some new information that is relevant and mission driven.