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6 Best Email Practices to Keep Your Volunteers Excited and Wanting More

Did you know that Jimmy Carter is still building houses with Habitat for Humanity – And he has been doing this for over 25 years? That’s the kind of volunteer most organisations would go through great lengths to recruit, though they are hard to come by.

jimmy carter rosalynn building cwp
Photo from https://www.habitat.org/ap/about/how-we-began/role-of-jimmy-and-rosalynn-carter

This shows that when an individual truly believes in a cause, they do consider taking extra steps and actions to volunteer their time and effort.

So how do you attract volunteers to support your organisation specifically? As there may be multiple charities who are advocating your causes too, which means there is an element of “competition”.

Here's where marketing comes into play.

Like any other businesses, you need to “sell” and market yourself to gain the awareness and efficiently recruit volunteers.

Volunteers are Your “Customers”

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To improve in email marketing, we need to first understand what our “customers” love, want and need. Here’s what we know about them:

  • They value the relationship and connection with the brand 
  • They want to support brands that are socially responsible
  • They want organisations to listen to them
  • They want to be influenced, not sold
  • They prefer visuals over texts as content
  • They love stories – Storytelling is the key to emotional connection

 Once you get into this mindset to address their preferences, you’ll be succeeding in no time.

Let’s Talk Email Marketing

Think about how you sort out your mailbox filled with messages from companies you have bought from – What makes you open certain ones and not others? Once you’ve opened them, what makes you want to read further?

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These should be your go-to questions whenever you’re crafting your own emails. Now let’s unpack some tips and strategies to make your email campaigns more successful!

Email Marketing Tips that Will Engage Your Volunteer Audience

1. Only One Message at a Time

Less is more! The simpler it is, your audiences will focus on a single message, which increases their chances of them responding to your Call to Action (CTA)

One exception would be a newsletter, which might cover various topics and stories.

2. Spice Up that Subject Line

What is the objective of the email? Are you welcoming a new volunteer, requesting for feedback from your current volunteers, or rewarding their support and efforts?

You may also want to update your volunteers on the impact they have generated towards a specific organisation goal. For example, a subject line that says, “YOU are the hero in our story – Read the story!” will encourage a volunteer to open that message.

3. “Categorise” Your Volunteers Segment Your Target Audience

Segmenting your target audience is crucial and you can have various approaches. You can segment them based on your relationship with them (ex. Volunteers, charities, business partners), or you may segment them based on their user journey (ex. New, current or previous volunteers, individuals who expressed interest but haven’t signed up yet).

By segmenting them, you can craft the emails and have them automated, scheduled and sent out based on their needs or behaviours.This can be done with a reputable email service provider such as MailChimp or HubSpot.

For example, you are looking for ambassadors to represent and raise awareness for your organisation. You may be considering asking your followers, fellow charities or even business partners.

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4. Personalise Your Emails

This is most often done by using the recipient’s name in the greeting of the email or, even more impactful, the email subject line. 

Referring to the subject line example above, you can add their name: “Sally, YOU’re the hero in our story!” – It cultivates a feeling of personal connection with your audience. Again, email services like 

Looking at the example subject line above, you can add a name: “Shelly, here’s what you’ve done!” Consumers want to feel a personal relationship, and this helps. Again, an automated service will do this for you.

5. Show Your Volunteers that You are Listening

Everyone wants to feel seen and heard – Especially when they care about a brand or an organisation. They want the best for you, and that’s why they need to feel that their opinions and thoughts matter.

Craft surveys and questionnaires to learn more about your “customer” (or volunteer) satisfaction on a regular basis, empower them to express their views, and provide feedback. This enhances their sense of personal relationship with you!

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You may consider the following questions to get a better understanding of the volunteer’s journey with you:

  • How are they feeling about the tasks they were given?
  • How are they seeing themselves contributing/being involved in your organisation’s mission?
  • How are they responding to your email updates and what are content are they loving (ex. testimonials or success stories)

The more you care and respond to what their preference is, the easier it is to keep and retain these awesome volunteers. Sharing the survey results with your participants, including what actions you have taken based on those results will make your volunteers or stakeholders feel valued.

6. Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Good Newsletter

Newsletters are perfect for storytelling and visuals, where you can feature your volunteers. If you can add engaging elements or “hidden easter eggs” into your newsletter, you’ll get higher opening rates, and even better, continued engagement with you, your stakeholders, and the mutual mission.

A savvy example of how visual storytelling, check out a Toms Shoes video! While these are not emails, these can be added into your newsletters and are great ideas on how your charitable programmes can be promoted and publicised.

Have fun with your emails!

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Now that you’ve gained the magical power of emails, it’s your turn to implement these ideas and strategies into your email marketing – Keeping your community of volunteers (and stakeholders) not only happy, but feeling appreciated and valued. Good luck!

Written by Donald Fomby

Donald Fomby is a Digital Marketing Specialist with a Master’s degree in Advertisement. At a relatively young age, he has already amassed impressive experience as a freelance writer. Currently, he is a valued member of the writing team at SupremeDissertations and TrustMyPaper. He partakes in different projects that allow them to grow his list of experiences and expand his interests.

Edited by Annissa Suen

Updated on 7 March, 2022
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