Emailing Volunteers

Do you know if your email message is being read by your volunteers? You subject line or return email address could be the problem. Before you send that email to your volunteers, make sure you check the words that you’re using in your subject line, and make sure to use a return email address that the volunteer will recognize.

A recent Email Sender and Provider Coalition (ESPC) study showed that 80 percent of respondents decide whether to click on the “Report Spam” or “Junk” button without opening the actual message, and that 73 percent based that decision on the “From” name while 69 percent based the decision on the subject line.

You should aim for 35 characters in your subject line (and spaces do count as characters), and anything over 55 characters will get cut off by your volunteer’s email system.

You would hate for your message, or you as a sender to be labeled as “spam” so take a few seconds to check the return email address and subject line before you hit “send”.


Writing An Engaging & SEO Friendly Volunteer Opportunity

How much time do you spend in writing your volunteer title and job description before posting it in

A well written description is 100 times more effective in recruiting volunteers for two reasons.

1. A volunteer opportunity description and title that uses keyword phrases that a potential volunteer might use to describe the job is 100% more effective, because search engines are computers – they match the keyword phrases that are input into their search boxes with keywords used on the page. Your description and title are just that – words on the page. So don’t use the word “docent”. That’s a term used by our industry, not necessarily volunteers. Use words like “museum guide” or “museum educator” instead. Not sure which keyword phrase people are using to search for this type of opportunity? Use a free online tool like Wordtracker to see the numbers of folks who have searched using those words.

2. Make your description detailed and enticing. If you’re not sure how to describe the job, then take a look at our taxonomy document located in the “Resources & Training” section of your account. We’ve created descriptions for all volunteer jobs possible. Take our generic description, and edit it in such a way that it motivates them to respond and moves them to action. Make sure to include all the details about materials they need to bring, background checks they might need, etc.

It’s a new world when it comes to posting volunteer opportunities online. Make sure to think keyword phrases – described how you think your volunteers might describe the job. Without keeping keywords phrases in mind, your volunteer opportunities might never be found, and your community’s critical needs might go unmet.

Keeping Volunteers Engaged Once They Find You

One of the best ways to keep volunteers engaged in regular service is to ensure that they are aware of new volunteer opportunities that match their interests & availability. In, a volunteer can be notified automatically of new opportunities by setting up what we call a VolunteerAlert, but often times local non-profits and Volunteer Centers also want to send the potential volunteer information about upcoming events.

When a volunteer registers for your enewsletter update, how do you ensure that they receive your email newsletter, and that that they are engaged in your message. Here’s a great article by Constant Contact that covers those issues.

The Value of Registering with Local Searches

The latest buzz in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is local search. As a non-profit, should you focus on these search engines? Absolutely! Why?

63% of US Internet users (109 million people) performed a local search in July of 2006.

(according to a September 2006 comScore analysis). It’s also easy and free for non-profits to register. I would suggest that non-profits looking for volunteers register or post to the following sites:
Google maps
Yahoo local
Insider Pages. You join, then add your business.
True Local

With some of these sites, it’s important to re-visit them to see what is being said about your organization. Insider pages allows for users to leave reviews, and you want to make sure that the comments that are left are positive about the work you are doing!

Can volunteers searching the web find you?

Come to the latest training about search engine optimization & marketing (which has been updated based on Katherine’s experience from the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo).

Why should you attend?
Websites ARE NOT magically added to search engine’s indexes. Unless you work on optimizing your Volunteer Center’s website and marketing it to search engines (Google, Yahoo, or MSN Live), volunteers searching the web WILL NOT FIND YOU.

What will I learn?
Nonprofit organizations using will learn the tips and tricks to ensuring that your volunteer opportunities and website are found by potential volunteers using search engines to find a place to serve.

The steps are easy, and you’ll learn the ONE most important marketing project that you can work on which will increase the numbers of volunteers finding your volunteer opportunities.

See the full SEO/SEM Training here.