Home » How to Write a Compelling Call to Action for Your Volunteer Opportunities
You’ve got your volunteer opportunities on the calendar. The descriptions are clearly written. Your team knows who the ideal candidate would be to fulfill the volunteer role. What more needs to be done to get those volunteers signed up?
There’s one piece of a well-written volunteer opportunity description designed to mobilize your volunteers right now: a compelling call to action.
Without a call to action, it leaves the reader unsure of whether or not you really need them to do something.
It’s time to motivate your prospective volunteers to action by making it clear you want them!
In this article we’ll explore:
A call to action, also known as a CTA, is a short sentence that asks the reader to make a decision. That decision is typically to do something.
Calls to action are often seen in advertisements and are associated with sales or time limits. You may have noticed retailers using sentences like, “Buy Now! Sale ends this weekend!” We’re all familiar with this form of a call to action.
That decision is where we choose to take action. Is this a sale we’ve been waiting on to make a purchase?
If you’ve been wanting to purchase that item and have been waiting for a sale, you may drive right over to take advantage of the offer! This is an example of how a CTA has influenced your “action-taking” mechanism.
On websites, a CTA is often followed by a button, allowing the reader to participate immediately after a short invitation. So the role of the CTA on a digital platform is to get the reader to participate by clicking.
Why should nonprofit organizations take a cue from retail experiences? Because retailers are well-versed in knowing how to inspire action. The difference for nonprofits is that you’re not asking people to buy something for themselves but to buy into the experience of giving of their time to a cause. Luckily, for many of us, this is a powerful motivator. It’s why we’re here doing the work we do!
When marketing your volunteer opportunities you’ll need to make certain to include a compelling call to action.
Consider, what type of action do you need someone to take? Do you need them to click on a volunteer registration button or to attend a training event? It’s helpful to keep your processes in mind while writing your CTAs.
When communicating with prospective volunteers, it’s important to remember that they may not know you need them! You may think, “but I wrote out this detailed description including our need for volunteers, how could they not know?”
If you don’t ask with a verb, they may not realize you need them to answer with action.
An effective CTA creates a decision point with an associated action. A strong CTA can help keep your volunteer opportunities at top of mind! When crafting your call to action, keep in mind the decisions your prospective volunteers are making:
Notice that it isn’t always a “No!” A strong CTA can inspire volunteers to share your opportunities with someone who is an ideal candidate!
A call to action is important because it is often the first layer of trust-building communication. This is true when a call to action is used to recruit new volunteers or re-engage lapsed volunteers for a new opportunity or program in your organization.
Where should you include calls to action in your marketing materials? Generally, you’ll want to include a CTA at the beginning or end of a volunteer opportunity listing. Sometimes a strong volunteer opportunity will have a CTA at the beginning and end. It’s important to know that if you’re calling someone to action, you want to clearly provide their next steps.
Here’s where evaluating your processes is important to know where and when to use a well-crafted call to action.
Are you posting flyers at community centers?
Then make sure necessary contact information and processes are outlined so that prospective volunteers know exactly what you want them to do! This is where caution should be used in placing either a phone number or email address for your organization if you know that it’s not checked regularly.
Do you have a volunteer program website?
Many organizations have turned towards technology, even creating their own volunteer-specific website. If you’re using your program’s web presence to recruit and register volunteers, you’ll want to make certain that it’s easy for them to click a button or fill out a registration form right after your call to action and to follow the necessary steps to completion.
Do you send out a regular volunteer newsletter?
Newsletters are a key component of a successful communication strategy. Most organizations follow a general nonprofit newsletter template that consists of content relevant to their cause, headings, links, and of course: calls to action. Volunteers who receive regular direct communication are much more likely to sign up for programming and other events. In your volunteer newsletter, you’ll want to make sure completing the action your CTA requests is as easy as possible for your volunteers!
When writing a strong call to action that gets results, you’ll want to be as specific as possible. You want your description to convey the type of person you’re looking for, the requirements of the position, and how the potential volunteer should respond.
Make certain what you’re saying is an accurate reflection of the type of volunteer role you’re in need of filling. This is a chance to really inspire your supporters to take action. Make sure what you’re saying is in line with your organization’s needs and opportunities. Your CTAs shouldn’t recruit people to play with cute puppies and then put them on garbage duty only! You’ve got to deliver the real deal here.
Here, you’ll want to be as specific as possible. We understand when recruiting volunteers to take action, more is always better. But speaking to “everyone” at one time is simply impossible.
Know exactly who you need for the opportunity you’re recruiting for and speak specifically and directly to them. People want to feel special! And they also need to be able to self-select. No more shoutouts to everybody and anybody! It’s actually impossible to call everyone to action. But it is attainable to write a call to action for the specific people your organization needs.
Notice the difference here:
“Hi, everyone! Are you ready to volunteer with us? Click here now!”
“Are you an adult 18 or over who speaks fluent French? Apply to become one of our community advocates and make a difference today!”
Be specific about who your ideal volunteer is, and then write the CTA addressing that ideal volunteer.
Maybe you’re looking for qualities that link your volunteer base, such as being patient or someone who loves teaching and working with students. Or perhaps you’re searching for volunteers with specific skills, like writing and editing or automotive repair. A good rule of thumb is to imagine you’re writing to just one person with the ideal skill sets and traits for your opportunity.
To create an effective CTA, you need to know what you’re asking volunteers to do. What’s your ideal outcome for this volunteer?
A few questions to consider first:
This is where your CTA shines! Get straight to it and be clear on what you want the prospective volunteer to do now. Make sure to use power verbs that inspire action.
You want short and verb oriented CTAs. Avoid meandering sentences or murky instructions. If it doesn’t perk someone’s ears, it probably won’t work as an effective CTA. Try them out on some colleagues and friends and see how they respond. Ask them if they feel the CTA is clear, concise, and inspiring! Reference the examples in this article when drafting your own CTAs.
Avoid making your prospective volunteers jump through hoops. Your volunteer registration process after your call to action should be simple.
Is your CTA easy to take action on? Is it as simple as the click of a button or filling out a volunteer application form? Address these questions to make sure you reduce process frustrations on the part of energized volunteers who are ready to go!
Volunteer program coordinators are leaning into the power of technology to streamline these processes. Many volunteer management software options can automate this crucial follow-up with volunteers. Simplifying the registration process, opportunity sign up, onboarding, and engagement of your volunteers keeps the positive momentum after they respond to your CTA!
A time-lag in response from an organization can lead to a loss of volunteer momentum. If you have a volunteer excited about taking action, make sure they know when and how you will follow up. If there are specific hours that you want someone to call your office, communicate that on the flyer to keep the action moving. If there is an estimated response time, make it clear. It’s ok to be specific!
Use a CTA with the intent of marketing your volunteer opportunities—inspiring prospective volunteers to take action! A CTA at the beginning and end of a volunteer opportunity description is where you tie together all of the detailed information and turn it into action. Then, ensure your processes are streamlined and straightforward to manage the incoming volunteers!
Author: Court McCracken
Join thousands of Volunteer Management Pros in getting exclusive resources to help you save time and make the biggest impact.