Free social media planning guide
Leveraging the power of social media can get your volunteer program in front of new audiences and bring new volunteers in through the door. In fact, 53% of people who engage with a volunteer organization on social media volunteer afterwards!
But, when it comes to recruiting volunteers through social media, a lot of volunteer leaders feel stuck.
Writing an attention-grabbing and actionable message in your social media captions will capture the attention of volunteers and inspire them to sign up for opportunities! Read on for the key strategies to create compelling captions that engage and activate volunteers for your cause.
Anatomy of an effective social media caption
For a lot of us, it’s sometimes easier to sit down and write social media captions when you have a template or structure to rely on. A tried and true strategy is the hook-story-CTA method of social media caption writing.
Let’s breakdown what that means and how you can accomplish this in your social media captions:
Most social networks only display the first couple of lines of your social media captions by default, opting to let the reader click the “more” button if they’re interested. Therefore, grabbing the reader’s attention with a strong hook is crucial for engaging your audience.
Some time-tested strategies for crafting a catchy hook:
- Spark an emotion
- Use strong active voice and powerful action words
- Speak directly to the reader
- Address a common pain point
- Include interesting visuals or statistics
- Ask a question that you answer in the next paragraph
These methods to hook the reader will entice them to keep reading and engaging further with your messaging.
People connect with authentic storytelling. Your social media captions are a great place to draw people in with stories about your organization, volunteers, or the community you serve. These stories can help you build trust and recognition with your audience, which will in term make them feel more connected to your cause and inspired to volunteer.
Tell stories about:
- The impact of one of your programs
- Volunteer profiles
- Successes, triumphs, and failures
- Client success stories
- How donations impacted the organization
The call-to-action (CTA) is likely the most important part of your caption when it comes to recruiting volunteers. The call-to-action is what will inspire readers to take the next step in engaging with your organization.
Some common CTAs for nonprofits might be:
- Asking the reader to sign up for a volunteer opportunity
- Encouraging someone to register for an event
- Asking your audience to like, comment, and share your content
- Encouraging them to click a link for more information
- Requesting a donation
It’s recommended to include no more than one CTA per social post. For maximum impact, make sure that your CTAs are time-bound, interesting, and clearly communicate your desired action.
Social media captions that invite readers to interact with your organization
Invitational posts are those in which you invite your volunteer base or the community to come join your cause via volunteerism, donation, or event participation. These posts typically include a strong call-to-action and should clearly communicate how the reader can get involved.
When you are sharing an invitational post, you are typically:
- Sharing a new volunteer opportunity and ask readers to sign up
- Calling for event registrations
- Sharing upcoming volunteer orientation or training
- Funneling prospective volunteers to your volunteer management software or website.
- Advertising a new service or reminding community members of the services your organization can provide for them.
- Describing the needs of your organization and inviting the community to contribute in some manner.
Example of a successful social media caption that invites the community:
Let’s take a look at this invitational social media caption by the Humane Society of Charlotte (HSC), and see why it received so much engagement from their followers.
HSC opens with the curiosity-piquing hook, “Cat yoga is BACK!” This, coupled with the image of two people and a cat doing yoga, draws the reader in and immediately makes them want to know more about what cat yoga is all about.
The social media caption then concisely tells the reader what to expect when joining cat yoga, but does not skimp on engaging and fun language:
- Cats will be there
- The feline yogis are adoptable
- The class is for all levels
- It’s a gentle flow and stretch yoga class
- There are multiple upcoming classes in the summer and fall
Finally, they tell the reader where they can find more information about cat yoga by referring them to the link in their bio.
The call-to-action is where HSC asks the readers to “tag your yoga buddy.” Despite the simplicity of the CTA, many people tagged their friends! This is a fun way to exponentially increase the reach of your post and to promote engagement in the comments. So, don’t be afraid to ask your followers to do something as part of their social media engagement.
Additional examples of invitational social media posts:
Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD) will again host its very popular FREE Junior Firefighter Academy this summer for girls and boys ages 13 -15. Registration is open MAY 17th-24th complete online registration at https://t.co/ckk9kSFq9k Questions: JFA@ventura.org pic.twitter.com/Y44VSyz2mR— Ventura County Fire (@VCFD) May 15, 2023
Invitational media caption templates to get you started:
📣 Calling all change makers! We need 10 volunteers for ______, an incredible event dedicated to making a difference in ________! ✨
[Add event date and time details]
🌱 We are seeking passionate volunteers like YOU to join our event, _______! ✏️Register now to secure your spot and join us in making a difference. Visit [Event Website/Registration Link] or click the link in our bio for more details.
Social media captions that educate people about your organization
Social media captions that educate typically center around the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your mission or cause. When writing educational captions, focus on your organization’s role within the community and the ways in which your organization is meeting community needs.
Remember: not all communities are local! Online communities are a growing support base for voluntary organizations.
Educational social media captions typically answer the following questions:
- Who do we serve in the community?
- What is our organization’s mission?
- What community needs are we meeting?
- What local businesses or organizations do we partner with?
- When did we begin this work?
- Where are we located?
- Why is our mission or cause important to the community?
- How are we meeting these needs?
Example of a successful social media caption that educates readers:
Free summer lunches are available in your community. You can find them at community centers, park districts, schools, & churches. Summer food service programs are free meals for kids & teens up to 18.— Feeding America (@FeedingAmerica) June 12, 2023
Use these resources and visit https://t.co/vHUnMZU3VD for more information. pic.twitter.com/FnDpGlh0qs
Now, let’s take a look at this educational social media caption by Feeding America.
We selected this example of an educational tweet for its simplicity, effectiveness, and the engagement it received from their community.
The tweet begins with a factual statement that draws the reader in by prompting themselves to think “do I need a free lunch? Where can I get these lunches?” The caption then quickly answers these questions by educating the reader on exactly where they can get these lunches and who qualifies for them.
The CTA is more subtle here, and asks the reader to click the link for more information.
We chose this example because we want to illustrate that clear, concise copywriting, particularly in Twitter captions, can be very effective. When writing your own educational captions, ask yourself exactly what the audience needs to know, and drop any unnecessary information so you don’t lose them. This will cut down any barriers between your recruitment messaging and potential volunteers.
Here are a few more examples of educational social media captions:
-Leave your area cleaner than you found it
-Bring reusable plates and cups
-Collect any floating litter you see while swimming
➡️ Register for our next beach clean up on June 10 by clicking the link in our bio.
Social media captions that inspire volunteers
When we talk about inspirational social media captions, we’re referring to posts whose focus is on the transformational aspects of your volunteer program. This could mean the impact your program has on volunteers, those you serve, the community, or even the planet.The strongest way to inspire people to volunteer is through engaging and authentic storytelling.
Here are some of our favorite inspirational stories to tell in your nonprofit social media captions:
- Volunteer spotlights - Who are your volunteers that make it all possible? Why do they serve? What have they gained from working with your program or those you serve? Why do they keep coming back to volunteer? What have they accomplished in partnership with your organization?
- Community impact - What resources were you able to bring to the community you serve? How has your organization impacted the day-to-day life of your clients? What has changed as a result of volunteerism or donations?
- Meeting or surpassing goals - What were you able to accomplish with the help of your supporters? What major benchmark have you met or surpassed? What were the end results of your seasonal campaign or Day of Service?
- Community involvement - How is the community showing up and engaging with your mission or cause? What local companies, religious establishments, or educational programs have partnered with your organization?
- Inspirational messaging - Inspirational social media captions don’t necessarily have to be about your own organization! They can be a great place to add inspirational quotes for volunteers or famous sayings.
Example of a successful social media caption that inspires followers:
This Facebook post by the National Breast Cancer Foundation is a great example of an inspirational social media caption that leads people to volunteer. This post received some of the strongest engagement on their account!
The National Breast Cancer Foundation opted to use authentic and personal storytelling as a means to draw the reader in for National Cancer Survivors Day.
In this caption, Natalie hooks the potential volunteer with her story of resilience in the face of her early breast cancer diagnosis. She then tells her story of how she overcame the difficulties associated with it. While this post lacks a CTA in the traditional sense, it does inspire the reader to follow and engage with Natalie’s story, and many people shared it.
Inspirational posts can make an effective series, where you profile a volunteer or someone your organization serves over time. When your audience reads these inspirational messages, they will be inspired to volunteer or get involved with your cause.
Here are a few more examples of social media captions that inspire:
(1/4) When we met Pela, a mom from Madagascar, she had been walking the same route to collect water every day for twenty years. And while her kids were old enough to help, she instead let them focus on their studies.— charity: water (@charitywater) May 6, 2021
"My children can get the water when they don't have school." pic.twitter.com/WLjG5Axcqe
Inspirational social media caption template to get you started:
🌟👀 Have you seen better stats than these?
- We trained 100 volunteers in 2023
- Our program, ProjectHeat is supported by 40 businesses in our community
- As a result of your donations, 100,000 people will have access to heat this winter.
👉 Click the in our bio for more information on how to get involved.
Top Volunteer Program Social Accounts to Follow
When writing effective volunteer recruitment messages for social media, you need to strike a balance of creativity, sensitivity, strategy, and fun. By leveraging intriguing hooks, telling impactful stories, and crafting powerful CTAs that showcase the benefits and impact of volunteering, you can inspire your online community to take action.