Writing good opportunities for do-it.org.uk & vinspired.com
do-it.org.uk currently has over one million opportunities to volunteer. With such choice it is
imperative that your opportunities on do-it.org.uk, and vinspired.com really stand out and
appeal to potential volunteers.
How people search the web
Understanding how people search the web, and more specifically do-it.org.uk, will allow you to
ensure that your volunteering opportunities on do-it.org.uk are appealing, interesting and
tailored to what people are looking for.
When people search the web they are essentially scanning the text to find words that interest
them. They will continue to scan the text until they find the first link that meets their need
which they then click on. This is because;
Individuals are often in a hurry
We are good at scanning for information
We know that we don’t have to read everything
There is no penalty for choosing the wrong link
When people are looking on the web they
scan in an F shaped pattern, looking at the
title firstly to find the key words they’re
looking for, and then the look at the
The picture on the right shows how people
view websites using eye tracking
technology. The areas where users looked
the most are coloured red; the yellow
areas indicate fewer views, followed by the
least-viewed blue areas. Grey areas didn't
attract any views
Using the eye tracking technology there
are a number of key trends that have
Users won't read your text thoroughly in a word-by-word manner. Exhaustive reading is
rare. Yes, some people will read more, but most won't.
The first two paragraphs must state the most important information. Users may read all
the information, though they'll probably read more of the first paragraph than the
Start paragraphs and sentences with information-carrying words that users will notice
when scanning through your content. They'll read the third word on a line much less
often than the first two words.
One of the main reasons why people use the web is to save time. Therefore people want to be
able to find the information quickly and without having to wade through mountains of text. To
ensure you attract people straight away adverts on do-it.org.uk need to be short and too the
point, without including needless words or words that are unnecessarily long.
What attracts people to an opportunity?
A number of studies have shown that volunteers are motivated to become active primarily for
altruistic reasons e.g. helping others or their community. While these are the primary reasons
cited, we also know that volunteers are motivated by a variety of personal reasons and may
have different reasons at different times.
In our 2008 Volunteer Satisfaction Survey volunteers stated were most likely to say that their
interest stemmed from a desire to ‘help others’ or to ‘do something positive’ with their spare
time, with seven in ten (71%) selecting each of these reasons for volunteering. Giving back to
the community, meeting new people, learning or trying new things, and gaining or improving
skills were also important motivations for more than half of respondents who took part in the
survey. We can therefore see that volunteers have a variety of motivations for the work they do.
Whilst it is impossible to target and touch on every potential volunteers motivations it is
important to consider why do individuals want to volunteer when creating your opportunity
description. It is also key to understand what volunteers indicate as reasons why they are
satisfied with their volunteer experience. Main satisfaction in completing a volunteer role stem
It is for an issue of personal importance
They feel needed and valued
It is meaningful, interesting work
Taking this knowledge we need to ensure that the title grabs people’s attention, and that the
opportunity description maintains peoples interest and inspires them to apply to volunteer.
An opportunity on do-it.org.uk has to attract people's attention in just a few seconds. If it looks
interesting, they will click through for more information. You want to create some intrigue for
people when they’re looking through all the titles of a volunteering opportunity. Remembering
the information about how people search the web you want a title that will make people stop
and read the description.
Use a descriptive, eye-catching title for the opportunity. Words that allow potential volunteers
to visualise themselves in the role are great at making people read more detail about the
opportunity. Try to avoid generic opportunity titles such as 'Volunteer' or 'Admin assistant' –
they’re not very appealing and are used by lots of people which means your opportunity won’t
stand out from all the others.
Don't use all CAPITAL LETTERS - they make words more difficult to read and make it appear that
you're shouting at people. You also want to make sure that you don’t include too much
information in the title; this makes it confusing to volunteers and not very eye-catching. All the
detail should be put in the opportunity description.
Reading from a screen is harder than reading on paper. Research shows that most users scan
pages, so opportunities that are concise and logical are much more likely to be read. The first
line of your opportunity description has to catch individuals imagination, it needs to contain the
key words volunteers may be looking for and inspire them to read on.
Keep the opportunity description short, snappy and straight to the point. Make it clear what is
required of the volunteer and how they will benefit from volunteering for this opportunity. As
outlined above with over a million opportunities on do-it.org.uk it is really important to utilise
the opportunity description to attract volunteers.
When writing an opportunity description, try to answer the following questions:
What does the role involve?
Who will the volunteer be working with?
What benefit will their volunteering bring to the organisation, and to them personally?
Where does the opportunity take place?
When does the opportunity take place?
Keep sentences and paragraphs short and aim to keep the word count down. Always check
spelling – there is nothing more off putting to a volunteer than to see a badly written and spelt
opportunity as it looks like the organisation doesn’t really care.
Lunchtime Assistant - Volunteers are needed to help lay the table, serve lunch and wash-up.
Might be better expressed as:
Lunch-club Helper - Make friends over lunch. Our friendly stroke club needs volunteers to help
with lunch-time duties and to socialise with members.
Shop Assistant - Homelessness charity works to give people a chance to help themselves. We
run outreach, hostel and support services. We need volunteers to help in our charity shop.
Might be better expressed as:
Retail Adviser - Are you keen to start a career in retail? Our busy shop needs an enthusiastic
assistant to help sort, select and sell. Profits go towards our work helping homeless people to
This field should be used to specify any skills or qualifications the volunteer should have in order
to perform this role. Don’t overload this section with information, instead you need to ensure
that you detail any essential skills that people need to complete the role e.g. they must have a
driving licence or youth work qualification.
You can also use this section detail skills that individuals will gain if they volunteer for this role.
In our most recent volunteer satisfaction survey 51% of volunteers stated that “gaining or
improving skills” was one of their motivations in volunteering. As with all of the opportunity
description you need to articulate in an engaging fashion what skills individuals will gain.
As well as the opportunity description an organisation description is the other tool you have on
do-it.org.uk to sell your volunteer role to users of the website. With many similar roles e.g.
administrator, befriender the organisation description is what individuals use to decide who
they will volunteer with.
It is important for you to describe what the organisation does in an impassioned and informative
way. In just the same way as you’d describe your organisation to a potential funder in an lift you
want to sell your organisation to the volunteer as they’re considering whether they should
donate their time to your organisation. Whilst it is tempting to copy and paste your
organisations vision and mission this often doesn’t really explain the nitty gritty of what your
organisation does and therefore leaves the volunteer confused about what your organisation
To help organisations write the best possible opportunities, we offer a free proofreading service.
The proofreading is carried out by volunteers and once it is completed we will send you a
spreadsheet containing comments and corrections with a sample of your opportunities. It is
then up to you as to whether you adopt the changes suggested by the proofreaders.
Hopefully the information about should inspire you to go and articulate wonderful volunteering
opportunities that individuals can’t help but apply for and get excited about. However if you’re
not sure or have another question please do get in touch with a member of the Partnerships
Team on 020 7250 5700 or via firstname.lastname@example.org