Volunteers are, without doubt, one of the most valuable resources to a charity. Every charity relies on passionate and committed volunteers to operate, so it’s therefore crucial to get the recruitment process just right.
When it comes to volunteer recruitment, the process has a few differences from typical recruitment. There are a series of steps that you’ll want to follow, which we’ve outlined below.
The process all starts with defining exactly what the volunteer's role will be, as well as recognising what skills and expertise they could bring to your organisation. This may involve identifying any of your programmes or services which may be underperforming and looking for suitable volunteers to help out in those areas.
You should also make sure that you’ve drawn up a plan for how you will support the volunteer through their role. And once you’ve decided on the role you’ll be recruiting for, you’ll also want to identify exactly what your recruitment process will be. This is everything from where you’ll advertise the role, to the interview stage, through to when an offer for a role is accepted.
It’s very important that the role description is crystal clear. This will not only make sure that you attract someone with the right skills but will also increase their chances of being satisfied in the role. The description should include information like who they would report to, what their hours would be, what qualifications and skills they would bring to the table, and what sort of personal qualities you’re looking for too.
However, the most important thing with a volunteer job description is to make sure that it outlines an expectation rather than implying any contractual duty to carry out certain tasks. This is where it differs from a typical job description.
Being able to make your volunteer role appealing and relevant starts with highlighting what’s in it for the volunteer. Whilst they’re not getting paid, there needs to be something they’ll get out of it in return for their commitment. This may involve highlighting the skills and experience they’ll develop as a result, as well as the sense of giving back that comes with being a volunteer.
Understanding your audience is also important for deciding how you want to promote the role. Your recruitment ads need to get in front of the right people, so you should choose a channel that best reflects where that demographic will be.
Candidates for volunteer roles are essentially offering their time free of charge, so be welcoming and friendly in the interview process rather than following a formal structure. And don’t be tempted to spend too much time talking about your charity. Let the candidate talk about themselves and what they would like to get out of the experience.
You might discuss their motivations for being a volunteer. Is it a willingness to give back? Do they have a particular passion for your charity’s mission? Or are they simply looking to develop new skills? The answers to these sorts of questions will inform how you guide and support them in their role.
Once your candidate has accepted the role, you’ll want to follow a few necessary steps before they get started. You might want to send a welcome email, outlining what they can expect on their first day and when they should arrive. It’s also a nice touch to let them know where they can park and where they might be able to get their lunch. Or better still – invite them to have lunch with you and a few members of the team.
If the role involves working with vulnerable people or children, you’ll also want to conduct a DBS check before they start. Getting references can also be hugely beneficial at this point as it performs a secondary background check.
If you’re looking to recruit new volunteers for your charity and would like support with streamlining the process, get in touch and we’d love to see how we can work together.