Volunteering can add valuable experience and skills to your CV, especially if you’re fresh out of education or changing occupation. That said, it can be hard to bag the perfect volunteer role. To help you, we'll walk you through all the steps you need to take to write an impressive cover letter to help you grab the attention of the recruiter.
What to include in a volunteer cover letter
As with any formal document or a regular cover letter, you need to follow a professional format. Below we’ve listed the correct formatting rules, structure and layout to ensure you impress the reader.
Your name and address
Your name and address should be written at the top right-hand corner of the page. In American English, the sender's address can sometimes be found in the top-left corner, so be sure to alter your template according to your location.
The date should appear a few lines below the letterhead — avoid this part if your request is via email.
The addressee’s name and address
A space should be left between the date and the addressee’s name and address. Regardless of your location, this should appear on the left-hand side of the page. If your letter is via email, skip this step and add a ‘subject line’.
Any formal letter should start with a formal greeting. A good way of making an impression is to use their name. For example, you could open with ‘Dear Ms Smith’. If you can’t find the hiring manager's name anywhere, writing ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ is acceptable.
The introduction is the perfect chance to market yourself and capture the recruiter’s attention. Open the letter by sharing your interest in the position and explain how and why you would be a good fit for the position by using a short example.
Within the body, go into further detail by explaining why you’d be perfect for the volunteering position. You could mention skills that you have that will benefit the work, relevant work experience or your educational background. If your previous jobs are not directly relevant to the role, then mention your employment history as a way to highlight your specific strengths as a volunteer. You may want to focus on your work ethic, your dedication to your current or former employers, and any transferable skills that could be relevant to the position you're applying for.
Close the letter by mentioning how much it would mean to you if you were selected to be part of the team. Inform them of how excited you are about the position and how you look forward to hearing from them soon.
Conclude with ‘Yours sincerely’, followed by your full name and signature. If you’re sending this via email, simply use your name and contact information.
Tips for writing a volunteer cover letter
To help you write a better cover letter, follow these handy tips:
Do your research
Before any job application, it’s important to do your research and find out all you can about the company. Have a clear understanding of the organisation’s goals and what the role entails. This will ensure that you are a genuinely good fit for the role. Besides researching the company, find out who is handling the hiring, so you know who to address your letter to.
Define your goals
After doing your research, you should know what the company's mission statement is, which will help you define your goals and align them to the goals of the organisation that you’re applying to. For example, if you’re applying to teach English abroad, explain how you are a great listener and educator who wants to help others develop their knowledge and skills.
Keep it short
The space on the page should be used wisely — don’t fill up two pages with unnecessary information. It’s important to keep your cover letter short and sweet, highlighting only essential details and facts that show off your skills, abilities and experience. Save your stories for the interview, where you can further elaborate on your experiences in the workplace.
Proofread your letter
Be sure to proofread your letter and look for any typos, misspelt words, grammatical and punctuation errors. You could even use a proofreading application like Grammarly that will do the work for you, or ask a trusted friend to skim their eyes over it and offer any corrections.
If you send off an application for volunteer work with sloppy errors, chances are you won’t get the opportunity, as you’ll have come across as unprofessional through your letter.
Match your CVs design
With a high volume of applications, hiring managers will be looking for someone with an edge, so why not match your cover letter to your CV template’s design? It’ll show that you’ve gone the extra mile to create professional documents.
Volunteer cover letter example
Here's a sample letter requesting volunteer work.
If you’re applying via email, you could follow this template:
Mrs Jane Smith
123 street name
Dear Mr Crane,
I came across the volunteer opening at the Red Cross, and I was instantly excited at the opportunity to volunteer for such a prestigious organisation. Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked as a nurse in private and public institutions. I would love the opportunity to give back to the world and work for a cause that is close to my heart.
A lot of people take nursing for granted. However, I see it as a role that can positively impact someone’s health and offer guidance. In the last decade, I have nursed sick children back to health, worked in a maternity ward and in a busy accident and emergency department. I would be grateful if I could offer these resources to children whose parents don’t have the funds for good healthcare. I have the experience of working in busy and demanding environments. Besides this, I have travelled to different countries already and have great interpersonal skills that will make my new patients feel comfortable.
As you can see, I’m extremely passionate about this role and believe I have valuable skills and experience that can benefit the cause that you’re working for. I hope that our goals align so we can offer the very best service to Third World countries that require the support.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch so we can schedule an interview. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Volunteer work not only adds credibility to your CV but also gives you an opportunity to explore different cultures, learn new skills and gain valuable experience, so it’s important to create an impressive cover letter and CV to ensure that you get the position.
Join the discussion! Have you volunteered for a company recently? Did you write a letter similar to this that was successful? Let us know your thoughts and comments below.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 23 October 2017.