Best Practices in Creating Nonprofit Position Descriptions
by Sylvia Giltner
Attracting the right volunteers or full-time employees to a nonprofit can be tricky. Today’s market is overflowing with nonprofit organizations. Careful and precise position description writing can help resolve this problem.
1. SELF-EXPLANATORY TITLE IS A MUST
Big words fall on deaf ears when nonprofit organizations are concerned. People don’t like to see complex job titles when they look for their next nonprofit experience. Instead, they look for simple, easy-to-understand titles. For example, a marketing volunteer’s position could be formulated in two ways:
“Chief executive officer of marketing”
“Head of marketing”
Which one would you go for? nonprofits should typically aim for a non-business sounding approach to their position titles. Use this logic when you title your positions and people will surely respond well to them.
2. PROVIDE SOME BACKGROUND
Before going deeper into your description, you should introduce people to who you are. Write a paragraph or two about your nonprofit, why it exists, and what you aim to achieve. Let people know what your vision is in order for them to see if they fit into it.
James Daily, a content creator at FlashEssay, has made it her mission to help nonprofits attract the right people to their organizations. She does this by writing and editing position descriptions. She recently spoke about her career: “I started volunteering when I was very young—I think around late elementary. Since then, I have found a soft spot for nonprofits in my heart and decided to specialize in content marketing in this niche.”
Give people a reason to reach out to you by stating your long-term goals and values. It’s better to be up front about who you are and what you hope to accomplish rather than to present this information to a potential volunteer later on.
3. OUTLINE THE OBLIGATIONS AND BENEFITS
While nonprofits are nonprofit organizations, they still need to use some form of corporate wording in their operations. It’s not a bad idea to treat your newly opened position as a job opening in terms of obligations and benefits it provides. Make sure to create a balance between “asking” and “giving” to the potential volunteer.
Individuals often seek out nonprofits to develop crucial skills that they can use later on. Write about the skills, experiences, and references people will gain by working with you. Should you have problems with writing your position description, there are several resources you can use.
You can refer to writing platforms such as Evernote and ProWritingAid for creating an outline of your description. Other services such as EssaySupply, Grammarly, and RatedByStudentscan help you further edit and proofread your writing so that it comes off as curated and professional. Don’t rush your writing. Make time to do it properly in order to attract the right candidates.
4. RANK SKILLS AND REQUIREMENTS
The truth is that each volunteer needs to contribute in some way to the position in question. In that regard, it’s important to list the necessary skills and requirements in your position description. You can rank these obligatory points by priority, meaning that the first ones are a must and the last ones are simply welcome.
This will make even the inexperienced candidates reach out and ask if they can contribute. Oftentimes people simply skip on a position application due to their lack of experience. Make amends for that and rank your requirements through bullet points for added reading comfort.
5. BE PRO-INCLUSIVE
As far as the general public is concerned, nonprofits and nonprofit organizations as a whole are pro-inclusive in nature. Follow up on this consensus and don’t be afraid to express your nonprofit's standing on world issues in the position description.
Candidates who agree with your stance on topics such as LGBT, gender equality, and racial diversity will jump at the opportunity to join you. Don’t be vague in your nonprofit’s beliefs and goals—make sure that it’s clear where you stand and what you fight for as an organization. This is an important part of position description writing as well as your marketing overall.
6. INCLUDE A CALL TO ACTION
It’s important for nonprofits to be inviting, friendly communities. Communicate that message through your position description and invite people to join you. This is easily done by implementing what is commonly referred to as “a call to action,” or CTA for short.
Calls to action are a popular marketing tool for eliciting a response or an action from a viewer. A simple “Call us today!” can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your search for great candidates. Don’t simply state information in your description and hope that people act on it. Nudge them through the door and help them be proactive by writing a small call to action at the end of your position’s description.
FINALLY, RESPOND VIGILANTLY
Once you start receiving applications, don’t accept anyone without vetting them properly. The way you write your position description will determine what kind of people approach you and express their interest.
Even nonprofits need to be selective when it comes to which people they accept into their organizations.
Create a shortlist of potential candidates and invite them for an interview or a group workshop.
About: Sylvia Giltner is a career coach, HR specialist, and freelance writer at ResumesCentre. She is also an active guest contributor who has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, Next Avenue, TLNT, Glassdoor, and more.
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