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How to Write a Speech That Motivates Volunteers

July 3, 2017

This article was inspired by Lynda C., a Speech/Language Pathologist from Florida who asks, “How do you design a speech to encourage volunteerism and active participation (financial, time and energy) into a non-profit project?”

The answer is: You need to use both emotion and facts to move your audience to action. Ask for what you need. Explain the benefits the audience will receive by donating their time and money.

  1. Use emotional examples. Warm their heart. Show how your cause affects people’s lives. Use detailed stories with the names and photos of people who have been helped (used with their permission.)  Your goal is to connect emotionally with your audience.
  2. Overcome “compassion fatigue.”  Many people are afraid their effort won’t count or be enough to make a difference. Bring your cause to a human level by using personal stories. Maybe you can’t cure world hunger by yourself today. But, you can make sure at least one child doesn’t go to bed hungry tonight. Let your audience know they can make a difference with just a small donation of time or money.
  3. Use the facts. Now that you have appealed to their heart, appeal to their head. Show statistics illustrating the need for more donations and more volunteer hours. Let them know how each dollar is spent helping people.  For example, “Every $20 donation can feed a child for a week.”
  4. Ask for the specific skills you need. Many people want to help but don’t know HOW they can be of assistance. Tell potential volunteers how they can be trained.
  5. Describe the benefits they will receive from giving. Tell emotional stories describing how good they will feel as a contributor. Show how their work makes a difference. And, let them know volunteering can be fun and a great way to meet new friends. If it’s a fundraising speech, describe the incentives you have for various levels of donations.  Examples are 50/50 draws and raffles for donated prizes. Also, emphasize the tax advantages of donating to your cause.

Emotional stories move the heart. Facts move the mind. Asking for what you need lets your audience know exactly how they can help. And, describing the benefits they will receive from volunteering or donating will move them to give. Use these tips to write your next speech for a non-profit audience.

© 2008 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada

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