For many non-profits, garnering volunteer support is paramount to their mission. Indeed, aside from monetary and in-kind donations, no other element can make or break an organization than failing to build interest from like-minded individuals willing to give of their time and talent.
Of course, any non-profit’s first foray towards gathering volunteers should be through their website. But determining what elements of a site are most attractive to potential supporters can be difficult to ascertain, especially if a site doesn’t effectively and adequately relate a non-profit’s mission.
Here are three best-practice elements geared towards getting volunteers vested in your non-profit’s ultimate goals.
Words that Work
No matter how aesthetically pleasing your site is, your copy must clearly state not only your underlying goals but how you plan to achieve those goals. In this case, less is more. You should offer your mission statement in less than three sentences and break other related text into short paragraphs, preferably with bullet points. Remember that, when it comes to volunteers seeking a cause to become involved in, you only have a small window to capture and engage their attention through your website.
Nothing is more frustrating to a potential volunteer than a site that isn’t clear exactly how they can get involved. User testing—which every non-profit should conduct early and often—shows that once confusion has taken hold with a visitor to your site, the vast majority of those visitors will move on. Actions—clickable links and buttons—must be obvious, and having up-front contact information is critical. One tip to keep in mind: volunteers want to know that there are people—not a faceless corporation-like structure—behind a non-profit, and increasing your site’s usability gives promotes this element.
You’re emotionally vested in your cause, and you need to make visitors see and understand that passion. Begin by determining your target volunteer base, whether it’s older retirees who have time to spend feeding the homeless or mentoring kids or young professionals who talents are better utilized on event planning and social media campaigns. Then, show those volunteers and the people they’re helping in photos and videos. A visitor to your site is much more likely to join your cause if they can relate to a face they see on your homepage or in a video link.