Do you have any tips for how I can improve my volunteer listing?

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Yes we do!

Idealist Listing Modeling Guide

Writing for the Web to Attract the Humans

The below guide gives Idealist volunteer opportunity posters a data-backed editorial strategy that will allow their Idealist volunteer opportunity posting(s) to capture organic traffic, drive referrals and social shares, reach new audiences, and encourage users to apply.

The focus is placed on creating scannable content, maintaining the Idealist voice, and editing for perfection. Use this as an adaptable template for your volunteer opportunity descriptions.

The (Ideal)ist Listing Formula

When writing a posting, follow the formula below:

  • Title: Compelling and relevant to volunteer opportunity seekers and using focused keywords for search engine robots. Some additional guidelines:
  • Avoid gimmicky titles. With people now searching by title, the eye-catching and unique titles will be a detriment to SEO.
  • Use the complete volunteer opportunity title for the listing title. Avoid using the listing title as a pitch or tagline and make the title as detailed as possible — e.g., “Online Fundraising Associate” versus “Fundraising” specifies the career level, department, and key specialization. Don’t abbreviate titles

Description: What attributes are you looking for? Every volunteer opportunity description should aim for the top-right corner of an ability and potential matrix — a high ability to start with and a high potential to grow. The description breaks down into the following components (in order):

About the organization (make sure to repeat the volunteer opportunity title within the first sentence, e.g., “Idealist, an organization dedicated to connecting people who want to do good with opportunities for action and collaboration, is looking for a Digital Media Supervisor.”)

  • About the volunteer opportunity
  • Responsibilities
  • Requirements
  • How to Apply

Header, Sub-headers, Numbers, Lists: Break down the listing into digestible chunks as noted above with each featured section boldly highlighted with clear copy and styled as Heading 1. Use numbered or bulleted lists for responsibilities and requirements and be as concise as possible

Internal and External Links: Link to your organization page on Idealist and include external links to your organization. Link to the relevant phrases for added indexing. (Look at this whale not look at this whale here)

Education and Language: Select the minimum education required and professional level and list required languages as well as desired level of proficiency

How to Apply: Include start date, application deadline, a link to your organization's website, and an email (if applicable). Include instructions for how to apply either as 1-2 sentences or (if more involved) a bulleted list.

Job Location: The address of your organization.


The goal with keyword-rich content is to meet users on the level that they research volunteer opportunity listings. What phrases are relevant to your volunteer opportunity description? What terms might a volunteer opportunity seeker search for in order to find a volunteer opportunity like yours?

In addition to your volunteer opportunity title, using similar terms in the listing copy will increase relevance to search engines. Avoid overusing one single keyword or “keyword stuffing” — 3 or 4 keywords in a 300-word description is appropriate. Google can tell when keywords are being overused and it will have the inverse effect on search engine rankings.

Keyword research can be done through several tools, including:

  • Google Search Auto-Complete
  • Google Ad Planner » Keyword Ideas


General guidelines for formatting an SEO-friendly listing are as follows:


  • Under 800 words (over 300)
  • Use numbers and bullets: Don’t use a bullet point if there is only 1, and no more than 7 bullets at a time
  • Chunk your content: Use sub-headers: It makes it easier for users to scan the page and it helps to organize your thoughts. This is especially helpful for tip guides and content that tries to explain a concept.
  • Use bold, italics, and underline sparingly
  • Format content as an inverted pyramid
  • Remember that most users only scan content
  • Prioritize the point in the intro
  • Support with details
  • Other details follow


General rules of thumb for the content of your articles are as follows:

  • Use the language your audience understands. Be interesting and engaging!
  • Aim to use the focused keyword of the listing and relevant phrases to the keyword in the headers.
  • This will help search engines to find your listing when someone searches for a particular word/phrase.


  • Sentence case headers, and don’t use final punctuation unless it’s expressive (?!). Also okay to use if it’s 2 sentences.
  • Contract whenever it isn’t confusing (careful with homonyms, e.g. it’s/its or their/there/they’re)
  • Oxford comma
  • Use numerals—don’t spell out numbers except for “one”
  • Don’t overdo it with the exclamation points!
  • DON’T ALL CAP. Unless it’s a design element (such as some headlines), button, or filetype (PSD, PDF, etc.). Emphasize with italics or bold instead.
  • Don’t punctuate items in ordered and unordered lists. Unless the list item runs to 2 sentences.
  • Split infinitives and end on prepositions with impunity

After your first pass, run your text through Hemingway Editor and make sure your readability score is at Grade 9 or below.