3 Top Tips for Creating Engaging Position Descriptions

We recently hosted the first webinar of our three-part series, Enhancing the Volunteer Lifecycle. In Part 1, Developing Position Descriptions, we discussed how an engaging and informative position description ensures a volunteer role is strategic, attractive, and appropriate for a volunteer. Beth Steinhorn, President of JFFixler Group, utilized various tools and a case study to illustrate how developing a strong position description can lead to success for you, your volunteers, and your nonprofit. You can watch the entire webinar here.

Don’t worry if you missed the webinar. Here is a quick recap of the two keys to creating an amazing position description – one that will provide a roadmap for volunteers donating their time (and a better guide for your recruiting efforts!).

  1. Understand the demographics and desires of your volunteer candidates. A good position description starts with knowing your audience. Find out what the top volunteer candidates expect from donating their time to a charitable cause. Two important points to keep in mind/consider:
    • Across all generations, from Baby Boomers to Millennials, we find volunteer candidates all have the same criteria in mind when searching for their ideal volunteer role. One of these criteria is flexibility. People these days work long hours, and not always the traditional 9AM – 5PM. They need volunteer opportunities that provide for some flexibility so they can fit their charitable work into their busy schedule.
    • Other expectations contemporary volunteers have for their position? They want collegial relationships with their fellow volunteers, they want to use and improve their skills while on the job, and they want to make an impact. Keep these and any other traits in mind as you think about the volunteer positions you have available.
    QUICK TIP: Swamped with other projects at the moment? Some of your volunteers may be full-time marketers or retired research analysts! Reach out and get your volunteers involved in the position description process. They’ll be thrilled to help.
  2. Understanding the organization’s needs and priorities is a must. A truly effective position description starts with a need. What are the needs of your organization and what can a volunteer do to help your cause and make an impact? After this perhaps just formulate the position’s title. Maybe you’re unsure of the official title just yet, but you know the basic responsibilities and attributes of the position. No matter how you begin make sure to take your time, look at your organization’s current and future needs, and then create a description that is compelling to those wishing to donate their time.
  3. Create a detailed, comprehensive job description that will help you better assess the new role and avoid busy work for volunteers. When you think you have a position description that resonates with your nonprofit’s message and potential volunteers, double check that there is a link between the work given and the community/ volunteer needs. Oh, and one more thing a well planned position description will help you avoid: busy work. Volunteers know when they are being saddled with busy work! They’ll do it once, but volunteer longevity is very often negatively impacted by mundane tasks.

A great position description really is a powerful tool for your nonprofit organization. It gets you organized by materializing your nonprofit’s needs on paper; it gets volunteer candidates excited to connect with your cause and make an impact in the local community; and it can serve as a super recruiting message to use in broader marketing and onboarding projects. Did you enjoy the first installment in our fun and informative series? Sign up for the second webinar Enhancing the Volunteer Lifecycle, Part 2: Recruiting & Onboarding, Thursday, May 11 at 2:00 PM here.

Volunteer Managers, what’s your method for creating engaging and effective position descriptions? We would like to hear your ideas! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and share your comments below.

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