, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Director of First Impressions Volunteer: Wow. What a concise, succinct way to advertise for a front desk or receptionist volunteer. The ad then goes on to talk about how important it is for clients to experience a first impression that is compassionate and helpful. Gosh, I want to be that volunteer.

So, what verbiage appeals to prospective volunteers? Is it silly, eye-catching titles or serious, touching the heart ads that bring volunteers in? And does the same ad appeal to millennials and baby boomers, working adults and students, community service needing and weekend warrior potential volunteers alike? And anyway, are there foolproof ads that once you’ve created them, you can then just magically sit back and answer the ringing phone?”

Clearly, marketing has a tremendous impact on companies that sell goods and services. If we think of ourselves as selling goods (enhanced life experiences) and services (ways to help the community), then we can think of our potential volunteers as consumers who can pick and choose where they will spend their valuable time. So, how do we market to them?

Here are just three creative ways to frame a volunteer ad:
1. Describe the benefit to the organization.
2. Describe the benefit to the client served.
3. Describe the benefit for the volunteer.

So, let’s take a simple job title such as “volunteer receptionist” and re-imagine it in the above three ways:

“Director of First Impressions:” The word ‘director’ exudes importance, and ‘first impressions’ neatly describes how this organization genuinely cares for their clients and is striving for excellence with every paid and/or volunteer position.

“Imagine How Hard It Is To Need Our Help:” This immediately frames the position in the eyes of the client and elicits an empathetic feeling for those who are being served.

“Where Else Can You Feel Like You Have Thrown Out a Lifeline:” This ad goes right to the heart of volunteerism-making a difference.

And what law says we can’t use all three ads for one position at the same time? Who knows which approach will attract the kind of person you are looking for because ads exist to quickly capture attention. All three ring true; they are just different ways of framing meaningful volunteer roles in punchy descriptions. If you can combine all three ways without becoming too verbose, then by all means, give it a go.
But can we even go further and be even more creative?  Why can’t we inject some playfulness? How about an ad that asks, “What Intergallactic Volunteer Character Are You?” (Or another current and popular theme). Create a description for a few popular characters, such as:
The Scavenger Captain: You’re roguish and free wheeling, this job is flexible. We won’t tie you down!
The Robot Sidekick: You’re diplomatic and precise, this job needs your attention to detail.
The Galaxy Princess: You’re strong and smart and destined to lead our rebellion against hunger.

Want to advertise for a thrift store volunteer? How about “Are You the First One at Garage Sales? Come, Help Sort Through Our Treasures Where It’s A Garage Sale Everyday.”

Do you need something very specific? Celebrate it! Web help might become, “If You Know What This Is, Call Us: 01101000 01100101 01101100 01110000.”

There are catchy volunteer ads out there that say, “show off your basketball skills,” “do you love cats and acting,” “do you walk by homeless people not knowing what to do,” “be the role model she’ll remember always,” “50% of school age children in our town go to bed hungry.” A few great ads tell a personal story: “Meet Ed. He will sit alone in his room today unless a volunteer comes to visit. Will you be that volunteer?” “Sarah received a scholarship in part because she volunteered. If you can you use a scholarship, call us!”

Do you have multiple locations? Tack the location onto the ad so that potential volunteers know they can stay close to home or work or school. You can say, “Be the Role Model She’ll Always Remember in Springfield” or “Calling All You Bristolians Who Dress Up Their Dogs.”

And if your program has won an award or has been feted in any way, use that to your advantage: “Join our award-winning volunteer program!”

Refresh your ads frequently. Keep statistics on the more successful ads so that you can start to track what is working and for whom it is working.

You can also put together a focus group of volunteers to come up with creative ads that they believe will appeal to their peers. Marketing students are also an excellent resource for help in crafting creative and appealing ads.

Well, then, how can we jazz up that soul-sucking Data Entry Volunteer ad? (and you know what always surprised me, there are people who want to do this kind of volunteering because it’s sort of like washing dishes by hand, it gives them a chance to just quiet the mind).

“Monotonous, Repetitious Data Entry Volunteer Job For That Amazing Person Who Knows This Work is Critical.  Help Our Clients While Decompressing in a Calm Environment. We’ll Play Some New Age Music.”