Volunteer Personalities and How to Speak their Language

Volunteers and donors come in all shapes and sizes.  Start speaking each person’s language with personas.

Different personas - Twenty HatsLast month I introduced you to Trudy, the persona who helped me recruit volunteers for my program.

So now you might be thinking, “Well that sounds like a fun project. But I’m not seeing the relevance. How will a persona help me on the job?”

Here’s how.

Personas make it much easier to market your program. Instead of guessing at what appeals to a volunteer or donor, you have a “conversation” with the ideal version of that person. You learn about their needs and wants and then show that you have the solutions they seek.

You might event want more than one persona. Volunteer managers and development directors may create multiple identities to represent different groups of stakeholders.

And that’s when it gets interesting, because your messaging changes when you are “talking” to a completely different persona.

Let’s take an example.

Persona # 1 is Max. He is the 30-something manager of a big box store that has an employee volunteer engagement mandate. Max is always looking for volunteer opportunities where his staff can team up to help family-related causes. Max thinks, “I need to find something that’s fun and makes us look good, but I’m beyond busy. I don’t want to spend a lot of time arranging this thing.”

Persona # 2 is Penny. Penny is in her forties with two young teens, ages 13 and 14. She wants to volunteer with her kids. Penny says, “My family has so much. I want my kids to see it’s important to give back when you are fortunate. I’m looking to volunteer alongside my kids and make it fun for all of us.”

Now –say that you are the volunteer coordinator for a family shelter that has a 5K race coming up. You need course marshals. How do you spark each person’s interest?

  • For Max — “Your team can help our team keep homeless families safe – with just one morning of your time. We’re looking for groups to course marshal our benefit 5K race. All it takes is one email to set things up.”
  • For Emily — “Spend a morning helping keep homeless families safe. We need fun-loving, enthusiastic volunteers to cheer on the racers at our 5K race. All volunteers enjoy the post-race food and festivities. Families welcome!”

See how different each message looks? Same event, same volunteer position, completely different messages tailored to the audience you most want to reach.

I have a template – give it a try!

Want to try your hand at persona-writing? I have a template to get you started. Email me and I will send you a copy.

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