Writing volunteer advertisements

Writing volunteer opportunity advertisements is often a challenge. Your ad needs to appeal to the right kind of prospective volunteer and have sufficient information to inform them about the role without losing their attention.

If you are ready to write up your advertisement, chances are that you've already designed the role and written a position description (see our Planning volunteer programs section for more information). That means you already have all the information you need for writing your advertisements.

A useful approach to writing volunteer advertisements is to think about things from the volunteer's perspective. Key things to consider include:

What's in it for me?

Yes, of course you need volunteers. But try to focus on the what’s in it for me from a volunteer's perspective. Writing your advertisement so that it taps into the needs of prospective volunteers helps them to see themselves in the picture and say, I can do that!

Different volunteers have different motivations for getting involved, but commonly these include the chance to:

  • Meet new people and make new friends
  • Do something with family or friends
  • Face new experiences or challenges
  • Raise awareness and support important community issues
  • Experience different cultures
  • Develop professional networks
  • Gain experience in a variety of roles
  • Explore different career and job opportunities
  • Get relevant training or develop skills.

Look for ways to describe these kinds of benefits in your opportunity advertisements. If you're stuck for ideas, begin by asking your existing volunteers about what they like about their role and why they got involved.

This looks like a friendly organisation

Prospective volunteers are looking for organisations with people and a culture that is friendly, inclusive and fun to be around. While most people want some clarity and direction about what they are expected to do, they are also looking for an organisation that provides flexibility and support when it's needed.

Including things like photos, testimonials, case studies and a description of any social activities you hold through out the year helps prospective volunteers to get a sense of your organisation's culture and the kinds of people who are involved.

I don’t get it!

Try not to confuse prospective volunteers with too much jargon, complicated language or by using internal acronyms. Many people may not be familiar with words or terms you use in your organisation so be sure to rewrite these in plain and simple words. Prospective volunteers just want to know what’s involved – they are not going to be wooed by fancy descriptions.

Show your advertisement to some people who are unfamiliar with your organisation once you've done a draft. Ask them to point out anything they don't understand or anything that could be rewritten in a simpler (or more interesting) way.

What does the job involve?

Volunteers like to know what's expected of them. They don't like surprises. Nor do they like things to be so prescribed that there's no room for their own initiative or creativity. Include a clear description of the role and any information about training, support and supervision. If you have a written position description (this is highly recommended) provide this with the advertisement or send it to prospective volunteers when they inquire about the role.

See our Writing position descriptions page for tips and ideas for documenting your volunteer roles.

How do I apply?

Make sure your advertisement includes information about the application process, even if this is just instructions to call or email somebody in your organisation.

Also ensure that your nominated contact person is well briefed about how to respond to volunteer enquiries and applications. There is no greater turn off for prospective volunteers than an organisation that takes forever to answer enquiries or, worse still, never responds at all.

Tools and resources