What Makes a Good Challenge Great?

Here’s something to ponder – what makes some Volunteer Makers’ challenges stand out from the crowd, while others fade away? Why do some pull you in while others have the opposite effect? In an attempt to answer that question, I’ve been delving into our pioneers’ platforms and have distilled my answer into 5 top tips.

Tip 1
Be humorous, and if you can’t be humorous give your challenge some personality – Volunteer Makers doesn’t need to be too formal, taking as it does its cues from social digital – where people come together on digital platforms. This translates well to engaging on social media, which is where you need to be talking about your opportunities to diversify your volunteers.
Tip 2
Give a compelling or inspiring reason to get involved. Why should they do this challenge? It might be because it helps deliver your cause – one they can get behind. Or it could be access to ‘behind the scenes’ opportunities.
Tip 3
Be specific in what you are asking people to do and ensure it’s appropriate for the time category. If people are looking for an hour or two, then let them see it can be done!
Tip 4
Appeal to a broad range of skills and interests in your challenges by thinking laterally. This too will help to diversify your volunteers and engage more people.
Tip 5
Make the whole experience frictionless for your volunteers. You’ve led them this far, don’t fall at the last hurdle by adding extra layers. Volunteer Makers captures your volunteer data and preferences on sign up, so get them to sign up/sign in, be clear about what will happen next and let them get on with completing the challenge!

Summary
So how does this look in practice?

http://museumofoxford.volunteermakers.org/get-involved/hour-or-two/spread-the-word/7/
• This challenge uses humour (‘help us change this sorry state of affairs!’)
• It gives a good reason to get involved (‘the more people we have attending our events and visiting, the better reason to develop the museum’)
• It’s specific and would fit in the one-two hours slot (‘Drop off 20 leaflets with a local café, take 10 to your local library or give a leaflet to a friend!’)
• There’s no friction to getting involved (‘Sign up here, get an email from the Museum Team and simply arrange a time to pick up some leaflets. We will discuss with you where you intend to distribute them so there aren’t any wasted journeys.’)

http://southamptonartsandheritage.volunteermakers.org/get-involved/hour-or-two/clock-tower-tour-assistant/11/
• This challenge is specific and timebound (‘The tours last an hour, start at reception and run at 10:30 and 11:30am. You’ll be required to climb 215 steps for each tour and to help ensure that the group stays together’).
• It’s intriguing (‘get a behind the scenes look at one of Southampton’s most iconic buildings’).
• It has some lateral thinking in the Skills and Interests that could appeal to a broad range of people (e.g. Conservation, Event Stewarding, Architecture and Building Management, Visitor Services)

http://snappingthestiletto.volunteermakers.org/get-involved/give-a-day/uncover-katherine-mina-courtauldas-involvement-in-the-suffragette-movement/38/
• This challenge is specific (‘Uncover Katherine Mina Courtauld’s involvement in the Suffragette Movement’)
• It’s inspiring (they’ve provided enough history to motivate you)
• There’s no friction to getting involved (Sign in/sign up, accept the challenge and ‘Visit the Essex Record Office to search for information and email Claire Willetts at Braintree Museum with anything that you uncover’)

Have you seen or created any challenges that are great, not just good? If so, share them with @volunteermakers

Anna Bryant, MA, AMA, Marketing and Engagement Manager, Volunteer Makers
Anna has worked in and for museums of all shapes and sizes across curatorial, interpretation, audience development and marketing roles during the last 18 years.

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