Information for Organisations

Below is a quick guide to writing effective volunteering opportunity adverts and preparing voluntary role descriptions.

Step Into the Volunteer’s Shoes

The first step, before starting to write an advert, is to step into the volunteer’s shoes. You know best the qualities in a volunteer you are looking for and what kind of volunteers have donated their time to your organisation, now or in the past. So put yourself in the volunteer’s shoes and ask yourself: why would a volunteer want to work with your organisation? What kind of people are most likely to be interested in your organisation?

What’s Your Mission?

Most people volunteer for causes that they are passionate about. You should always take care to outline the aims and purpose of your organisation and the work that you do. And most importantly, how the volunteer role that you are advertising will fit into your work and the benefits for your mission that it will have. Make your advert a call to action for all who read it!

Be Specific

Most volunteering opportunity adverts fail because they are not specific about what the volunteer will be doing. Think like a potential volunteer- if you see an advert for “volunteer wanted” you’re less likely to look than if you see an advert with a specific role title like “Race Official” or “Peer Mentor”.It is also important to ensure that a full description of the role and the work that the volunteer will be undertaking. Generalisations and undefined roles are difficult to become enthusiastic about, and enthusiasm is the emotion you want to elicit in potential volunteers who read the advertisement.

“Working with children” as a role description is much less appealing than “Working with children to help them learn language and communication so they have a better start in life” is more accurate and appeals to a number of different motivations.

What to Include

Before going ahead and writing your opportunity advert, we advice you to consider what content to include and, equally, what not to include.

You Should Include:

  • A specific and informative role title
  • The aims and objectives of the role
  • An outline of the tasks and activities that will be undertaken
  • How you will measure progress and performance
  • Outcomes for the volunteer

You could also include:

  • The opportunity location and minimum hours of commitment needed.#
  • Any expectations of the volunteer that you may have (such as commitment levels or minimum qualifications)
  • Skills and qualifications that you would like a volunteer to have – essential and desirable
  • Person specifications (if appropriate to the role)
  • Where the volunteer will fit within the organisation
  • The size of your organisation
  • Demographics of your service users – who will the volunteer be helping

Benefits of Volunteering

Be sure to include information on how the role will benefit the volunteer, what kind of experience they will be gaining, any training that you give (note that you must be careful to ensure that training given to volunteers is not quid pro quo – if you are to give training to volunteers it cannot be contingent on how much volunteering they do or be seen as a reward for volunteering with you). Include information on what kind of benefits they might gain from volunteering, such as meeting new people or learning about your area of work.

What to Avoid

There are a few things you must be careful to avoid when writing an opportunity advert. Whilst volunteering opportunity descriptions may look a lot like job opportunity adverts they are not the same thing. Care must be taken to ensure that your description does not imply that the volunteer will be required to perform specific tasks (as this would imply a contract of employment). If you are worried about accidentally doing this, more information can be found in the Resources section of the information for organisations area of the website.