Volunteer Recruitment

An Overview of Volunteer Recruitment

Know Your Roles

  • Be sure that your volunteer opportunities are beneficial to your organisation and can help you achieve your aims
  • Create clear role descriptions
  • Make sure you know what each opportunity entails so that you can sell this to potential volunteers effectively

Create a Good Impression

  • Make sure you have all of the ‘Must Have’ paperwork, policies and procedures in place before you start recruiting
  • Ensure that those staff likely to manage enquiries have sufficient information to deal with prospective volunteers
  • Respond as promptly as possible to enquiries – make it clear on any literature/phone messages if you are only available for part of the week, but will deal with enquiries as quickly as possible

Make Your Messages ‘User-Friendly’

  • Produce publicity that answers volunteers’ unspoken questions, for example Why should I volunteer at your organisation?
  • Answer other questions in your publicity, for example What will I be doing? How often and when? Where?
  • Reassure volunteers that they will be given training and be supported
  • Avoid using words like ‘need’ and ‘desperate’.

Spreading the Word

  • Consider all methods for getting your message out; e.g. word of mouth, posters, adverts, your local volunteer bureau, talks and presentations and local newsletters

Volunteer Role Profiles

What are volunteer role profiles?

A volunteer role profile (also known as a volunteer task/role description) is a document which details the specific activities a particular volunteer is involved in.

Volunteer role descriptions form an important part of an organisations recruitment process. They help to give the volunteer an accurate idea of the work they will be doing and also ensure that the volunteer is attracted by the tasks as well as the organisation’s wider aims.

Areas to think about

  • Purpose of role
  • Hours
  • Main activities/duties
  • Skills needed
  • Training
  • Other notes/info related to role or organisation

Marketing Your Volunteer Opportunities

Recruiting Volunteers: Where to advertise

Think about the type of volunteer you want to reach and the types of roles you have available and advertise accordingly. It is important to advertise your roles regularly and to persevere when fostering relationships with other organisations.

  • Schools and Colleges
  • Partner agencies
  • Libraries
  • Town halls and other public buildings
  • Playgroups
  • GP and dental surgeries
  • Sports, leisure centres and community buildings
  • Places of worship
  • Shop windows/notice boards
  • Pubs
  • Job centres
  • Estate agents
  • Local newspapers
  • Clubs, societies, special interest groups and charities
  • Community festivals and events

Your local volunteer bureau, Exeter CVS: They can advertise your opportunity, find potential volunteers and give you advice and support.

You can also make use of the following websites:

Application Process and Information Packs

The application process that you have for volunteers will depend very much on your organisation and the work that volunteers undertake within it.

Whatever your organisations’s recruitment approach, it is important to develop a system that suits your needs but also does not put off potential volunteers or place unnecessary barriers in people’s way.

It is a good idea to have an information pack available to send to people interested in volunteering.

An information pack would normally include a leaflet about your organisation, a covering letter, a role profile, and contact details of the appropriate person to contact.

An application pack might include a role profile, an application form, a photo consent form and emergency contact form.

Bear in mind that your funders may require you to include further information to candidates at the initial stages; e.g. equality and diversity policies.

Keeping accurate records of your current volunteers, past volunteers as well as keeping track of recruitment and enquiries is essential.


Informal Chats/Interviews


Even though the interview may be informal you should have a structure to ensure that you gather the necessary information and treat all volunteers fairly and equally.


  • Aim to keep the meeting as relaxed as possible: it should be a two way process and an opportunity for both parties to find out more each other
  • Set aside enough time without interruptions
  • Make sure you have everything to hand that you may need, including any forms, reports or policies that you may want to give the volunteer
  • It is good practice to interview in pairs if possible: this will allow you to consider the suitability of your candidate from more than one point of view

References and Checks

It is best practice to ask for references from your volunteers.

References are comments from people who know the volunteer in a work, or a professional, context; for example, a ex-employer (voluntary or paid position), a former teacher or tutor, the leader of a club or faith group or a support worker. Remember to make it clear that you will not accept references from a friend or family member, as these will lack impartiality.

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