How to write and share volunteer descriptions

Resource | septembre 10, 2018

Your efforts to find volunteers will be stronger if you can provide a clear, concise and engaging volunteer description with the people in your community. Learn the tips and tricks to write these well and share them with those who can help your group support its work.

Community groups like yours run on volunteers. You’re probably a volunteer yourself! Getting enough volunteers, and the right volunteers, is crucial to the very longevity of most community based organizations.

Writing and effectively sharing a volunteer description is one way to recruit volunteers. It provides clarity on the needs of your groups, on the teams roles and responsibility, and most importantly tells the community you are looking for volunteers!

The only difference between volunteer job postings and paid postings is the lack of pay and the fact that the person writing them is generally not a Human Resources professional.  Read on for tips to help you succeed in writing and sharing volunteer job descriptions that result in volunteers  who provide your group with new skills or perspectives.


  1. Reduce barriers for volunteers

    If the team you work with is more informal and at a stage where everyone chips in however they can, you will want to create job descriptions that are more general and may have a very low barrier to entry. Make it easy for people to say to themselves ‘I can do that’. As an example, instead of including all of the website coding skills you are looking for in a website administrator, write a posting that asks for ‘some experience in administering or building websites’ or even ‘’likes websites and willing to learn how to administrate. Past experience a bonus.’ Be as general as you can, but be honest about must-haves that the role requires. If there are no must-have skills, keep it open to anyone!

    More mature community groups with lots of members have the luxury of being specific if they choose. When you already have a strong base of volunteers, you can write more targeted volunteer descriptions to fill specific roles that will allow you to effectively delegate work and divide responsibilities.

  2. Cultivate engagement one step at a time

    Volunteers can often follow a pattern of engagement:

    • Step 1-One-time volunteer: Participate in a one-time event, like a park clean up.
    • Step 2-Project-specific volunteer: Take on a longer-term duty that is project-specific, like adopting a park tree and watering weekly through the summer.
    • Step 3-Core volunteer: Attend regular meetings; participate in and/or plan & organize a roster of activities.

    Understand this pattern will help you weave some psychology into your volunteer posting: if you enable volunteers to start with a short-term project or a ‘trial’ position, commitment is manageable and the volunteer proposition is more inviting.

  3. Build a volunteer pool

    Don’t need new volunteers all the time? Don’t let that stop you from planning an ongoing call-to-action. If you can develop a list of interested people, you will have potential volunteers ready and waiting as the need arises. It’s much better to have people waiting in the wings than not to have any when you need them most!

    If you have a website, be sure to include a ‘volunteer’ section where you can outline your group’s need for ‘people who are passionate and interested in what we do’ and post any specific volunteer descriptions. When you send out communications by email or in print, mention that you are looking for volunteers, and how to get in touch.


  4. Write a volunteer description

    Writing an effective volunteer description is not daunting. It’s just a question of following some basic guidelines and letting your passion shine through. A great way to start is by visualizing the kind of person you need: passionate, engaged, and enthusiastic about what your group does! Then imagine that you are writing directly to them.

    Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

    • Start your description with why it’s important. People really want to know that what they are doing is of value.
    • In the same vein, communicate the specific benefits of volunteering with your group. One of them is likely that volunteers can meet neighbours who are also working to make your park a better place.
    • Keep your description short. Remember that your posting is not a ‘how-to’ manual. Save most of the detail for an email exchange or an in-person meeting once you have sparked someone’s interest.
    • A short description is good, but add enough detail and transparency so that people understand what they are signing up for. Don’t forget to describe the role that a volunteer will fill, even if it’s fairly general, and any responsibilities that come along with it.
    • Include the where, how and when: explain where the volunteer will need to do the work, how long it’s going to take, and when. This is especially important for one-time positions, like helping with a festival. 
    • Mention the ways that you will support volunteers, including training, an orientation, or a social occasion when they can meet the team.
    • Include a timeline and next steps. Mention how and when you will get back to people, as well as when they can start with the position.
    • Don’t make it intimidating and unrealistic! If it looks like a lot of work or a lot of skills are needed, you can always divide the job into two roles.
    • Be inviting. Add something towards the end like ‘we’re happy to talk more about fit – we’re flexible’.

    See the examples of volunteer descriptions we've provided below in this resource. 

  5. Share you volunteer description

    One of the strongest way to recruit volunteers is through word of mouth by the people who have experienced the impact of your work. However, it is also important for your group to expand beyond your connections and be representative of your community. This will make your work richer and stronger.

    Here are some tips on effectively sharing job descriptions with your close network and beyond:

    • If you can, add a photo to help people envision the role.
    • Keep your ‘share’ description short, upbeat, and point to a more complete job description on your website. If you don’t have a website, it’s a good idea to create a Facebook page and post a description there.
    • When you are hosting events, have a volunteer sign-up sheet on-site. You can have a general call for volunteers, or include specific roles. In-person situations like you have at events are where people are most likely to get engaged.
    • Make use of local networks. Ask your local Councillor to share a short description in your newsletter, or theirs, that encourages people to call, email, or to visit your website/Facebook page to learn more about volunteering with you.
    • Ask group members to send the volunteer description out to their own networks by email or to post on social media.

    Park People will create awareness for you! When you create a profile on our community group map you are able to check if your group needs volunteer support. It spans all of Canada and lets our website visitors know where groups are looking for volunteers. You can also fill out this form and we will share your description on our newsletters.


  6. Evaluate candidates

    Once you have succeeded in attracting attention and getting some volunteers interested in your community group, it’s time to have a conversation. There are a few things that are important to make sure of:

    • Ensure that the role is going to meet the volunteer’s expectations and that they meet yours.
    • Look for passion as well as the skill sets required for the role. If they are missing skills, maybe they can acquire them, or step into another role.
    • Have a way to quickly make them feel part of your team. Have them join a meeting or a gathering and give them the lowdown on your community group: how you got started, what you have done, and why what you do is so important.
  7. What does success look like?

    The volunteer world is tricky. You might find someone who is a great leader and effective in their role, but doesn’t have the time for more than a one-off event. Or you might find someone who is enthusiastic, but lacks specific skills. Just, work together to do the best you can. Flexibility, creativity and collaboration will be key to your group’s success.

    You can find a sample volunteer job posting and short description below to use as a model. Don’t forget to share your volunteer description with us by filling out this form. We will include it in our newsletter. And thank you—it’s people like you that make our parks and communities a better place!

    Best of luck on your journey.