According the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, "Volunteering in the United States — 2013," the volunteer rate from September 2012 to September 2013 was the lowest since the annual report began in 2002. The U.S. volunteer rate declined by 1.1 percentage points from the previous year to 25.4 percent, with 62.6 million people volunteering at least once for an organization.

A nonprofit organization's volunteers are its most important asset, and this asset is in severe decline. Do we need to rethink the volunteer job description to attract high-quality individuals?

The development of a volunteer job description helps define the role succinctly. An essential element missing in most volunteer job descriptions is the "what is in it for me" factor. The following are questions and statements that can be addressed and added to the job description to personalize it more to the volunteer's needs:

  • How can this position build more friendships/relationships? Describing the opportunities to meet new people, build new networks and friendships helps a potential volunteer visualize a rewarding experience.
  • What professional need does it fulfill? This is a great place to detail how the volunteer position will enhance their professional skills (i.e., delegation, leadership, project management, etc.)
  • What will this accomplish? Describe the deliverable at the end of the project to help the volunteer see what the goals are. A sense of accomplishment is one of the top three reasons for volunteering.

By appealing to a volunteer's reason for serving more clearly in the job description, we are painting a personal picture of the experience and its rewards. Transform your volunteer job description to a volunteer job experience.