AIDA and Recruiting Volunteers

AIDA and Recruiting Volunteers

There is a simple acronym that marketing people use – AIDA – that can help with recruiting volunteers.

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This is the four-step process that everyone goes through before a purchase – or any other decision.

My marketing guru friend, Patty, uses this analogy. Think about walking in a grocery store. You cut down the cereal aisle, and you notice a particular brand (it’s got a bright red box). Maybe you’re looking for cereal, or maybe you’re not, but this one grabs your attention.

You pick up the box and read that it’s sugar-free but still delicious. Hey, that’d be nice. Now you’re interested.

You read the ingredients and other info, and realize that it gets its deliciousness from real raspberries – your favourite! A desire to try it grows in you.

Whether you were originally looking for cereal or not, you take action by putting the box in your cart.

Cycle complete. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

When buying a box of cereal, this process may only take a few seconds, but the exact same process is gone through when making any purchase, even buying a house.

It also works for things that don’t actually involve money.

Let’s look at it from a recruiting volunteers angle, from the point of view of a prospective volunteer – me!


Understand, there is no way that I’ll volunteer for you if I don’t know you exist. Pretty basic. I need to know that you’re out there. This is where your organization’s community awareness strategy comes into play. Just like the bright red cereal box on the grocery shelf. The more people who notice you, the easier it is to find volunteers (and donors, clients and other stakeholders). Spend some time thinking about what you can do to raise your organization’s profile in your community.


Once you have my attention, you want to interest me in what you do. On your website, in general conversation, on social media and in any other way that you can think of, tell me – and everyone else – about the wonderful ways that you are making a difference in our community. Tell stories about the clients you’ve helped, the beaches you’ve cleaned. The impact that you’re making.


Now that I see what amazing work you’re doing, I’m starting to wonder how I can get involved. Again, on your website and other platforms, talk about what volunteers do for the organization and what a difference they make. Show how easy it is to volunteer, and list the benefits that would come to me by volunteering with you. Tell about how much fun the volunteers have, and what a great social community I could be part of. Make it easy for me to see myself in one of your volunteer roles. I want to help your cause! I want to be part of your team!


Now all you need to do is make it easy for me to sign up. The simpler and more convenient it is to apply, the more likely it is that I will. You have caught my attention, excited my interest and stirred my desire. All that’s left is to have me take action. Don’t make me jump through hoops at this point. Make it as easy as dropping a cereal box in my grocery cart, or clicking a button that takes me directly to an application form. The interviews, security checks and all of that can come afterward. By then, I’ll be hooked. Don’t make me phone someone, or print a form and upload it, or anything else that takes extra work.

As a leader in charge of recruiting volunteers, you are a marketer.

If you think about the recruitment process the same as you would retail marketing, you will find that the same techniques work just as well for recruiting volunteers.

As my friend Patty says, you don’t need to sell people anything; you just need to make it easy for them to buy.

Or volunteer. Using the AIDA process will do that for you. Good luck!

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