Getting volunteers to help your nonprofit can be challenging. You have a great cause, and many followers who truly want to help, and have every intention to work with you to achieve your goals. But sometimes your would-be volunteers are busy and distracted, and it can be difficult to get the message out to them that you need their help. So how do you capture their attention, and more importantly, how do you persuade your volunteers to respond to your calls-to-action? The answer is simpler than you may think.
Just tell them.
That’s it, truly. Your volunteers and donors want to help you. They have good hearts and wonderful intentions, but your challenge is to encourage them to act upon those intentions. And when it comes to communicating your plea for help to them, email has some f the best potential compared to any other medium. But with many people receiving dozens, if not hundreds of emails on a daily basis, your biggest hurdle is capturing their attention, and ensuring that they will receive your message.
That’s where “Subject” lines come into play. In most cases, it’s the first thing your recipients will see, and oftentimes, it determines whether or not your potential volunteers or donors will read your email, or immediately press “Delete”. So how do you tailor your subject lines in a way that effectively ensnares your target audience’s attention? Try keeping these four subject line tips for attracting volunteers in mind:
1) Keep it short.
Seriously. Try to keep your subject lines somewhere around 6-12 words, and never more than 15. Get to the main point of your message, and describe it succinctly. Most email account settings don’t allow for much more than 50-60 characters to be viewed on the homepage of the inbox, so having anything more than a simple statement will often go unread.
2) Convey a Sense of Immediacy.
Your audience is busy. Make sure to remind them, kindly, that you need to hear from them as soon as possible. Whether you’re sending your volunteers an email asking for their help or asking your audience for donations, you’re more likely to elicit a positive response if they understand that there may be some kind of a short timeline. “Volunteer for This Month’s Charity Dinner” is better than “Looking for Volunteers for our Upcoming Charity Dinner”, for example.
3) Avoid “Spammy” Words.
This is an important point. Most email services have some form of a spam filter integrated directly into their platform, and a lot of “spammy” words trigger them. “Limited Time”, “Only”, “Opportunity”, “Now”, and “Free” are some good examples of words to avoid altogether, if possible. Having your email missed by dozens of your addressees because of an inaccurate spam filter trigger is the last thing you want to have happen.
4) Show the Value.
This final tip may just be the most effective one. The time of your volunteers is invaluable to them, so you need to make sure that they feel as though their time is being well-spent. Explain the value of your event or cause, and convey the value message you need to provide. Show your audience that, with their help, you will together be able to provide a great benefit for someone or a community in need. Quantify the value, and make it something easily tangible for your potential volunteers. Instead of “Volunteer for our Children’s Game Night Event”, try “Help us raise $10,000 for UPMC Children’s Hospital at our Game Night”. And make it personal. Your audience will appreciate it if you let them know that they are needed. Phrases like “We Need You” or “How You Can Help” will not only help increase your positive responses, but can also go a long way towards maintaining goodwill between you and your volunteers.
To conclude, make sure you put some serious thought into your subject lines. Writing that subject piece is way too important to ignore or throw together last-minute. Take your time, try a few different formats, and follow our 10 Tips For More Effective Nonprofit Email Marketing. You might just start seeing your activity increase.