How to recruit volunteers

How to recruit volunteers

Recruiting new volunteers is a chance to introduce new energy and ideas to your charity.

However, it's a process that shouldn't be rushed and needs to be well prepared to ensure both the volunteer and your charity get the most out of the agreement.

Before you recruit volunteers

What will their role be? How will you support them? And what is your procedure for the selection process? Firstly you need to decide why you want volunteers and what their position will entail. Volunteers should have a clear understanding of their role and what is expected of them. You should always consult senior management when recruiting as their strategic support can be crucial. It can be useful to draw up a volunteer agreement for your charity, including best practice guidelines and principles.

Write a volunteer role description

Written descriptions often convey more clearly what the role will entail than the information you give in an interview. It gives an opportunity for you to:

  • Think of resource gaps in the organisation that could be filled with the help of an extra person
  • Provide a basis for determining performance and activity levels
  • Describes the ideal outcome of their work
  • You could also include who the volunteer would report to, qualifications and skills, personal qualities, and basic information such as location and work hours.

Essentially, volunteer role descriptions are like job descriptions, the key difference being that a role description should only outline the expectations of a volunteer. You need to be careful you are not implying that a volunteer is under duty or contract to carry out certain tasks.

Recruitment process

There are many ways you can advertise for volunteers, including: leaflets, word-of-mouth, local press/radio adverts and online - via your website or social media channels. Design a simple, easy-to-understand form for applicants to fill in, taking into account equal opportunities.

Interview process

Interviews should not be too rigid and formal; after all, the candidates are offering their time to your organisation. Don't be tempted to talk too much about your charity and not give the candidate a chance to talk about themselves. Consider how the candidates will fit into your organisation's culture, and discuss their motivations for working as a volunteer - is it their belief in your charity's cause? Wanting to give something back? Learning new skills? Keeping active? Social contact and meeting new people?

Volunteer appointment

Once you have decided on a volunteer, ensure that a DBS check is carried our if they are working with vulnerable people or children. Gather references if necessary, and you can then contact them to arrange a start date. Once they have started work, arrange a comprehensive volunteer training programme so they can start contributing to your charity.

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