As a nonprofit professional or volunteer manager, you likely give plenty of thought to your website’s design and functionality. You’ve probably spent time optimizing different aspects of your website, from your SEO performance to your online fundraising efforts. But, have you considered using your nonprofit website as an engagement tool to interact with your volunteer audience?
Your nonprofit’s website can be a valuable resource to introduce prospective volunteers to your mission or engage your current volunteers.
In this post, we’ll explore how you can use your website to engage volunteers with these four tips:
- Make it easy to register for volunteer opportunities using your website.
- Feature engaging, original imagery.
- Offer additional opportunities to get involved.
- Highlight volunteer stories and accomplishments.
When optimizing your website to engage volunteers, keep the volunteer journey in mind. The volunteer journey is the steps supporters take from first becoming aware of your program, conducting research, and eventually registering for a volunteer opportunity. Think about how you can design your website to facilitate awareness, research, and action among your visitors. Here’s how:
1. Make it easy to register for volunteer opportunities using your website.
Your visitors should be able to register for any upcoming volunteer events and opportunities easily using your website. A well-designed registration page offers a convenient and seamless registration process for applicants. Ensure your volunteer sign-up forms are short and sweet and only ask for the necessary information to avoid a frustrating, lengthy process.
You can also make navigation easier by using your website menu links to direct visitors to your online volunteer registration page.
Also, make sure your volunteer information pages are thorough and up to date. This includes any background information you have on your program or any details about current volunteer opportunities and shifts.
A website that is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, and up to date builds trust with potential volunteers. This will allow you to use your website as a more effective volunteer recruitment tool.
2. Feature engaging, original imagery.
You’ve no doubt heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When it comes to the images and graphics you choose to feature on your website, this couldn’t be more true. Images capture visitors’ attention and express your organization’s story and mission in an engaging way.
Choose original, compelling images to showcase what your volunteer program looks like in action. This can be a great way to help prospective volunteers picture themselves working with your organization. Plus, current volunteers will be excited to browse your site and try to find themselves in the images. Also, remember to use high-quality images that don’t take too long to load once visitors land on your page.
Double the Donation’s guide recommends choosing photos and graphics that:
- Provoke emotion - The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words. You can convey a large quantity of information and emotion with images. For example, if your organization focuses on eliminating food insecurity in your community, use pictures of your volunteers gathering donated food items or cooking a meal for community members. This will show visitors how your organization makes a tangible difference in your community.
- Are visually interesting and appealing - Compelling, vibrant images grab visitors’ attention easily. For instance, search for action shots, such as images of volunteers planting a tree or raising the side of a new house.
- Break down important information - Use images and graphics that convert complex concepts into easily understandable ideas for new visitors. You can break up any long text blocks using infographics that represent important statistics or charts that break down the need-to-know information about your cause.
Remember, try to stick to using images captured by your staff members or volunteers themselves. Use stock images sparingly— if you choose irrelevant images or ones that look too posed, audience members will see them as disingenuous. This could lead to less trust in your website and your organization as a whole.
3. Offer additional opportunities to get involved.
Your volunteers are likely interested in engaging with your organization in a variety of different ways, not just by contributing their time. You can turn volunteers and other advocates into more involved supporters of your mission by offering multiple opportunities to get involved on your website.
For instance, use your website to present opportunities like:
- Donation opportunities, including recurring donations such as your monthly giving program or in-kind donations that would be helpful to your organization
- Advocacy opportunities, such as letter writing or social media campaigns
- Event opportunities, such as upcoming fundraising events or your annual gala
- Professional opportunities, such as legal services, translation, internships, etc.
By offering a range of different involvement opportunities, you can strengthen the bonds between your organization and its volunteers. You also show your volunteers that your organization is thriving and active in many different areas, which can reassure them that your nonprofit is worthy of continued support.
4. Highlight volunteer stories and accomplishments.
Use your website to thank volunteers for their participation and highlight specific volunteers that go above and beyond the call of duty. Volunteers will feel appreciated for their efforts and encouraged to continue contributing their time.
Keep your content fresh and engaging by posting a new volunteer shoutout on your website’s blog periodically. You can also motivate volunteers to be more active with a “volunteer of the month” series that features individuals on your website. Volunteers will likely share the news with friends and family who may also decide to try volunteering because they’ll see how rewarding your program is.
Now that you’ve learned the basics of using your website as a tool to engage with your volunteers, it’s time to start designing! Remember, put yourself in your visitors’ shoes, think of what may catch their attention, and plan accordingly.
Don’t forget to keep web design best practices in mind when designing or revamping your website. Best practices such as maintaining consistent branding, providing simple navigation, and making your volunteer opportunities easy to find will all contribute to making your website a better volunteer engagement tool.