VSNS 120x120

Voluntary Support North Surrey

Improving lives locally For the people of Surrey Heath, Spelthorne & Runnymede

Five tips for finding and retaining your volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of charities across the UK. From trustee boards and befrienders to fundraisers and back office volunteers, many small charities would simply cease to exist without them.

Various changes in the way people volunteer and the way charities are operating since the pandemic, coupled with increasing costs for charities, mean that volunteers are more important than ever if charities are to continue to meet demand for the support they offer.

Recruiting and retaining volunteers is an investment of time and energy, so you want to make the most of advertising your volunteer opportunities to find the right people, and ensure you have the best support mechanisms in place to ensure their experience is positive and successful.

Here are our top tips for finding and keeping those volunteers:

1. Be clear what you can offer volunteers

People volunteer for a whole host of reasons; to give something back to their community, to help others who have experienced similar challenges to their own, to meet new people or learn new skills. Make it clear how your volunteering opportunities will benefit the people who are giving you their time.

What works for one demographic might not work for another. Those aged 19-25, for example, respond in particular to flexible and informal volunteering opportunities, including virtual and micro-volunteering roles, and want an easy and quick online application process, according to research from Voluntary Support North Surrey’s Time to Change project.

2. Cast your net wide

Make the most of all your channels to promote volunteering opportunities. This is something that Basingstoke Canal Society does well, as explained by trustee Ken Sankey. Volunteers will come to you through word of mouth, through online searches, through social media posts or through your local volunteer centre or other local agencies such as JobCentres or colleges. Don’t rely on just one channel but use several to tell people about the opportunities you have, and ensure they are up-to-date.

3. Get in touch, and stay in touch

A frequent complaint from enthusiastic, willing volunteers is that some organisations take a long time to respond when they first make contact. Make getting in touch a priority. It makes your organisation look good, it maintains momentum and it saves you time and effort in the long run.

And once you have volunteers on board, keep in touch. Celebrate your successes, make them a part of your progress and send news updates regularly.

4. Look after your volunteers

Having a structure in place to support your volunteers, being clear about your expectations and what they can expect from you, is essential. NCVO provides some excellent guidance on engaging with your volunteers, including writing volunteering agreements and volunteering best practice.

5. Know what a difference your volunteers make – and tell everyone

Demonstrating the impact that volunteers make to your organisation is so important. It will help you develop best practice, recruit more volunteers for the future, and is essential information for funders and supporters. View our slideshow presentation on measuring the impact of volunteering.

Voluntary Support North Surrey works with voluntary and community organisations, statutory agencies and the business community to promote voluntary work. They offer free services to local voluntary groups including finding suitable volunteers, funding advice, help with business planning, marketing, access to training and much more.