How to Recruit Volunteers from Your Email List

Volunteerism September 22, 2016

Terry Ibele

By Terry Ibele

If you’re sending emails to your contact list, asking for volunteers, but not getting a lot of response, it’s likely that your emails are getting lost in your recipients’ inboxes. 

According to a study done by The Radicati Group, people receive on average 91 emails a day. 

This means that your email asking for volunteers is competing with 90 other emails. And with so many emails piling up every day, it may be a week before your recipient even looks at your email (if at all), and by that time it could be too late.

Luckily there’s one simple thing you can do to make your emails stand out, so that your potential volunteers read them.

That thing is personalization. Simply add your recipient’s name in the subject line and the body of your email. It’s simple, but so powerful. 

Experian Marketing Services found that people open personalized emails 29% more than they open emails that aren’t personalized. 

Now your email has a much higher chance of standing out.

Take a look at this image. Which email do you think will catch my eye? 

(hint: my name is Terry and I circled the one which stands out to me)

email stand out
When you send the same standardized email to everyone, your recipient will feel like a nameless, faceless number on your email list. 

But, when you include their name, it will instantly stand out to them. As Dale Carnegie, a well-known expert on the art of persuasion best put it, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”

So let’s look at how this might play out.

According to MailChimp, the average open rate of nonprofit emails is 25%.

Now, imagine that you send your email to a list of 250 potential volunteers. That means that only 63 of them will open and read your message. 

However, if you personalized your email, 81 people will open and read your message (29% increase). That’s nearly 20 more people than before. And perhaps two or three of those extra people end up volunteering.

That’s how the small act of adding someone’s name in an email can make a big difference in the amount of people who read that email, and most importantly, the amount of volunteers you get.

But, one question still remains. 

If you’re sending out 250 emails, how can you personalize each one without wasting a huge amount of time?

Simple. There is software that can personalize your emails at scale.

Wild Apricot’s all-in-one membership management software has an emailing system that can easily do this.

Note: The desire for personalization is actually one of four major changes in human behavior that we call The Tech Effect, which has made it harder for membership organizations to grow these days. If you’d like to learn more about The Tech Effect and how to address these changes to revive your organization’s growth, sign up for our free webinar.

If you’re a Wild Apricot customer, here are the simple steps you can take to personalize all your volunteer emails.

Wild Apricot Customers - How to Send Personalized Emails to Your Volunteers

In this short tutorial, I will show you how to set up a volunteer interest in your contact database and then email everyone with this interest with a personalized appreciation message in just a few minutes.

Step 1:

Go to your Admin View > Contacts > Common fields > Add new field

common fields

Step 2:

Select Multiple Choice. Type “Volunteer” into Field Label. Type “Yes, I would like to volunteer” into Items. Select anybody under Others access. Save all changes.


Step 3:

 Go back to Contacts > List. Select the members that have signed up to volunteer.

Select Contact

Once in a member’s profile, select Edit under Contact Details, and select “Yes, I would like to volunteer”. Save the changes.

edit volunteer
Note: If your volunteers are not yet in your contact database as members, you can set up a free membership level under Members > Levels and call it “Volunteer”. Then you can ask your volunteers to register on your website, or register them yourself with their information.

Step 4:

Now you can easily email all your volunteers through a simple search.

Go to Contacts > Advanced search > Add criteria > select Volunteer under Contact Related > select the check box beside Yes, I would like to volunteer > Email contacts

email volunteer

Step 5:

Write your email. Here’s one I’ve written.

Notice that I used {Contact_First_Name}? This will populate with each volunteer’s name once the message is sent so that it’s personally addressed to them. This is called a macro. You can find this macro and many more to personalize your email messages under Macro, circled in red below.

email wizard volunteer

Step 6:

When you go to write your Subject line under Recipients, include the same macro again {Contact_First_Name}. Just like in the body of the email, this macro will populate with each recipient’s first name when it’s sent.

email recipients

That’s it. You can now easily email your volunteers with personalized messages anytime you like.

Read More: How to Recruit Volunteers from Start to Finish

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