State & Local Programs

Characteristics of a Good Recruitment Message

Document Author: Steve McCurley, VM Systems

The opening of the the Message is interesting enough to entice the potential volunteer to continue reading or listening. The body of the Message is appealing enough to interest the potential volunteer in considering the volunteer opportunity or, at least, in contacting the agency to get more information. Boring Messages are only likely to appeal to boring people.

The body of the Message presents information in an order that psychologically matches how people will think about the offer:

Need: Is there a problem?
Solution: Can this job help solve it?
Fears/Questions: Will I be capable of helping with it?
Benefits: What's in it for me?
Contact Point: How do I get involved?

As a general rule, spend more space on need than on logistics. People will first decide whether you’re worth volunteering for and then decide whether they can fit you into their schedule. The need you stress may be yours, your clientele’s, or a perceived need/benefit of the volunteer.

  • The Message is easily understood. The Message is intelligible and avoids jargon, unless it is included for a specific reason. The Message has been tested for ease of comprehension by someone other than the author of the Message. Remember: What Can be Misunderstood, Will Be.
  • The Message gives a complete picture: problem, type of work, requirements, timeframe, person to talk with. The Message doesn't make the potential volunteer have to do any extra work in order to understand what is going on.
  • The contact information for the Message gives the name of a person, preferably including their first name, not just the name of the agency. Volunteering is a personal decision and people like to talk with other people about it.
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