If you’re involved with a non-profit in any capacity, you’re aware of the importance of attracting volunteers to your organization. Volunteers not only provide vital assistance to budget-challenged non-profits, they also bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm – providing a boost to paid staff and fellow volunteers alike.

According to the 2011 findings by The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), in the United States alone volunteers served 8.1 billion hours in 2010, valued at an estimated $173 billion. As nonprofit organizations across the country continue to face serious budget challenges, the vital contributions of volunteers become even more critical.

These tips will help you create high-impact materials that will get you noticed by prospective volunteers, and attract them to your cause.


Write from the heart. People most often volunteer because a cause speaks to their values, so be sure to incorporate words and phrases that resonate with them. For example, Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to provide safe and affordable housing for those who would otherwise go without. Habitat’s use of phrases such as “join in the fight” “be an advocate” and “get involved” in their volunteer recruitment messaging drive home the urgent and active nature of volunteer opportunities with Habitat for Humanity.

As you’re writing from the heart, however, remember to write short paragraphs, use bullet points, sidebars, and pull-out quotes. Your message will be lost on busy readers if you overwhelm them with too much copy.


Imagery should support, not compete with, your copy. Use images that resonate well with your target audience, for example, the Humane Society of the United States uses photos of humans interacting with animals on their volunteer information page. These images speak to animal lovers’ passions and enable them to see themselves within the photos.

Putting it all together

With the popularity of web sites, email, and social networking, it’s easy to overlook printed materials – but you shouldn’t. Colorful brochures and flyers call attention to your organization in a way that online media cannot. And, some prospective volunteers prefer reading printed materials to reading a computer screen because it is easier on the eyes.

When using printed materials to attract volunteers, color has an enormous impact. The colors your organization chooses for your logo and supporting artwork help to convey your image. Would you use pink and red for an organization focused on helping the environment? Probably not, but whatever colors you use, make sure they effectively communicate your message.

As always, keep your target audience in mind when deciding on the final format. Ask questions such as:

  • Where will this printed collateral be displayed?
  • What will my target audience most likely do with this collateral?
  • Is my collateral in a format that is easy to share with others?

Your printed materials can take many different forms, from full-page flyers to tri-fold brochures, and more. Use a simple desktop publishing program to lay out your images and copy in different templates. Then, print out a few test pieces to see which looks best before you commit to a full print run.

Next in the series: Creating attention-getting fundraising materials to attract new donors and motivate your existing donor base

About The Author

Cheryle Ross is a Marketing Programs Manager for Xerox Corporation and manages marketing efforts for Xerox Direct and Xerox FreeColorPrinters, both of which serve the small business and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining Xerox, Cheryle worked in a similar capacity for a wide range of both B2B and B2C organizations including WebTrends, Lucy Activewear, and InFocus Corporation. When she’s not hard at work creating campaigns for Xerox, Cheryle enjoys travelling, running, and enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest.

contact: cheryle.ross@xerox.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/cheryle