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How to make a great volunteer posting by sylvng
April 1, 2009, 10:45 pm
Filed under: General Charity Musings | Tags: ,

To follow-up with my previous post regarding where to post for Toronto volunteers, here are some tips for making a great volunteer listing. You’ll want to attract attention so keep it concise, but, make sure you have enough information so that people don’t contact you with unnecessary questions. The last thing you want is a million responses from people who aren’t qualified or interested, forcing you to sift through all the applications to find your picks.

There are some basic must-have facts that you’ll want to include in your posting, but most of these are handled by the online sites anyway:

  • Start and end date / time of the volunteer position – is the timing flexible, is it full-time or part-time, are there scheduled breaks allowed, etc.
  • Location – include at least the city, although the actual address is best (convenience of location matters, especially for those who have limited time to volunteer with). Can the work be done remotely?
  • How to apply – is there a web form,  or should the person email or phone directly? Should they send you a resume? References? When’s the application deadline?
  • Organization information – organization name, brief description of mission, and website link for more information.
  • Position information – responsibilities and qualifications. Are there specific certifications or level of education required? Is a driver’s license required? A background check? Will the volunteer be working alone or in a team? Who will the volunteer be working with? Reporting to?

But chances are, the volunteer who lands on your posting has already seen a bunch of other postings as well, so make sure you tell them WHY they should apply to your position. My suggestion would be to include:

  • Benefits of being a volunteer with your organization – usually candidates have a specific reason for volunteering, whether it’s giving back to the community, gaining experience in a new field, networking, or beefing up a resume.  So tell them what benefits there are at your specific organization, such as:
    • A chance to involved with something new in the field – perhaps your organization is piloting some new programs.
    • An opportunity to be associated with a great brand.
    • Ability to learn from some experts with over 10 years experience.
    • Meet new people with similar interests.
  • Organizational culture – often times I see volunteer postings that describe in excruciating detail the volunteer responsibilities, but say nothing about the culture of the organization.  You can argue that for a volunteer position lasting only 3 hours the culture fit doesn’t matter, but I beg to differ. It’s all about setting expectations! Is your organizational environment carefree and fun-loving? Punctual and direct? One line will do;  you can put in “sense of humour” in the “Additional Assets” section of the post, or mention that the team loves to go out for beer on Fridays. It adds a human element to an otherwise sterile posting.
  • What goal the volunteer is committing to achieve – it’s one thing to tell the volunteer what they’d be doing; it’s another entirely to tell them what you’re holding them responsible / accountable for. An accounting position may involve bookkeeping, but if you’re holding them responsible for a balanced budget in the end, state it up front. It not only lets the volunteer know that the position is important, but it also encourages the volunteer to take initiative and do more than what’s described in the job description to meet the stated goal.

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