The long road to volunteer recruitment

Let me start with explaining today’s title. Why is it a long road to recruit volunteer? In truth, it’s not, but today’s post talks about what I’ve seen during my 4 years of volunteering, covering recruitment techniques I’ve witnessed and how in 2017, I don’t see much change, and I’m worried.

I’m lucky to say that I’m in regular contact with charities all the time, with one aspect of communication focusing on my personal story and the other offering advice when it comes to recruiting volunteers through John’s Road to Volunteering.

Before I go on, remember that below are things I’ve seen, probably a technique that’s been used on me and not all of the below will match the operational needs of every charity, but I hope it provides a learning curve for all charities struggling to recruit and all the charities that believe they’re recruitment is great, as they have the numbers to show.

Numbers is what we focus on right? The more volunteers we have the better? We must be amazing with our recruitment techniques and strategies, right?

Wrong! Numbers are great, but only if they have purpose and have results, not just for operational needs, but for the volunteers themselves.

In the past, I’ve spoken about the charity sector being similar to the caveman era; mainly with the digital world, but the same opinion stands for volunteer recruitment.


JRTV100 is in full swing now, with a significant number of charities lined up later in the year, but not every role I’ve applied for I’m taking further.

I don’t know what it is, but I can be switched off quite quickly when I read a volunteering advert or once the communication begins with a charity. It’s what’s inspired today’s post.


CV’s and Cover Letters

How many of us recruit using a similar approach to an employer? One thing we forget is despite the role of an organisation to fully include staff and volunteers, both positions are not the same. Volunteers want to know this. Could CV’s and Cover Letters turn volunteers off from the very beginning?


Lead volunteers, not manage

One approach I use myself is leading volunteering, not managing. When I speak to charities about retaining volunteers, they question why volunteers don’t stay. Is it me? Is it the way they’re managed? Some volunteers will give something a go, and won’t like it. That’s just one part of a volunteer’s journey, but you must think of volunteering from their perspective.

Would you want to be lead or managed? Do we even know the meaning behind the terms?


Engaging response times

The terms are irrelevant if no recruitment takes place. Ever wondered about what engages volunteers? What to put in adverts? Maybe it’s not actually the advert we need to worry about, but the response time. I’ve waited weeks previously to hear back from a charity or sometimes have never heard back, and it’s a worry.

Response time is a key element to engaging prospective volunteers, but also keeping upon the initial contact.


One role fits all

Contact allows you to learn more about the volunteers. How many volunteers do you currently have that are happy to do the same activity as someone else?

We all have different backgrounds, wants and needs and different goals.

Do you notice I say different a lot?


Learn from volunteers

Different opinions, wants and needs and experiences is a great asset to future strategies. Why? You can learn. You can learn from your current volunteers, enabling you to strategise for the future.

Without feedback, how do you know what’s working and what isn’t?


I say all of this, but volunteer recruitment is a learning curve. Whether we’ve been in the sector for a year, 10 years or longer, we’re always facing new methods to engaging the next group, but we need more awareness of the newest trends.

I will follow up with all the points in the next few weeks, and will continue to share what I’ve seen, experienced and heard in the sector and will turn it into sort of an advice columns for all involved in leading volunteers.


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