6 Steps to Successfully Recruit Volunteers for your Nonprofit Organisation

3rd September 2019

Linda Cantillon-Guyatt

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The first recorded use of the word ‘volunteering’ was in 1630. Even then, organisations would have needed a volunteer recruitment strategy in place to successfully recruit volunteers. 

Recruiting Volunteers – where to begin

‘Chicken and egg’ comes to mind when thinking about recruiting volunteers. 

Do you look for people with specific skills and experience? Or do you match volunteers who offer to help with tasks or roles you need doing? 

Either way, all your volunteers need to be supported and managed. In my previous blog, How to Increase Volunteer Participation, I outline how to continuously support and engage with your volunteers.

This blog is focused on the volunteer recruitment process. 

6 Steps to Successfully Recruit Volunteers

Step 1 – Consider the skills, experience and time your organisation wants from a volunteer

You can gain a clear understanding of what your organisation needs by speaking to your staff and existing volunteers.

You may discuss:

  • Whether you want  someone to come along on a set time period.
  • Whether you need one-off pieces of professional advice. Pro bono, targeted, skill-based and short-term support. 
  • Whether you need short-term help for particular occasions. Sometimes it’s just a pair of hands to set up an event, pop to a neighbour or prepare a rota.

This will allow you to think about the range of volunteering roles and tasks at your organisation.

Step 2 – Find volunteers of all ages and across communities 


Consider who traditionally volunteers for your organisation:

  • Do they reflect the communities you are working in? 
  • Do you want to widen your pool of volunteers to ensure various people can be provided with opportunities to help out?  
  • If you traditionally rely on older people, is now the time to consider opening up volunteering opportunities to younger people? 

One approach is to offer short term opportunities to encourage people who have not traditionally volunteered. Once they have volunteered with you and had a positive experience, they may commit to a longer-term role or help out occasionally.

Step 3 –  Advertise your volunteer positions and simply ask for help!

First thing to consider – is there someone you already know? Are there people known to your existing staff and volunteers that have the skills you are looking for? 

A lot of people are not necessarily looking for a volunteering opportunity but just need to be asked. 

Next, social media – create an eye-catching advert that explains what your organisation is looking for and what a volunteer can expect. 

Social media advertise your volunteering roles

Share the advert as widely as possible and ask your staff to share on their social media – you will be surprised at how many people will see your advert that way. Here at Groop we know that our social media reach is over 15,000 people – and we are a small team!

Then, share offline – circulate your advert in poster form to your local library, community centre, GP surgeries, high street or village shops and give out at local events. 

It helps to put the posters up yourself and to take the time to talk to the staff at the venues. They will often know of, or speak to, people who may be interested in your opportunity.

Finally – use local press or radio stations who are often interested in doing a feature about local organisations. Particularly those interested in the impact an organisation can have on the community. 

Their listeners and/or readers can find out more about your organisation and the work you do as well as respond to the ‘call to volunteer!’ 

Step 4 – The recruitment process 

If you are looking for a regular volunteer then it is useful to have 

  • A clear job description and person specification, both for your organisation and the prospective volunteer.
  • A simple application form 
  • Contact details of at least one referee.  

Be clear about the requirements of the role – does the volunteer need a DBS check

The interview process should not be too formal – volunteers are offering their time for free.

Consider these questions: 

  • Why are they interested in volunteering with your organisation?
  • What they would like in return e.g. are they seeking work experience?
  • What skills and experiences do they want to share? 

It is good practice to keep a written record of the interview.

If you are looking for some short-term help, have a clear description of the task – an application form or formal interview may not be necessary. 

Step 5 – Getting a volunteer started


Once someone has offered to volunteer, you will want to get them helping quickly. Make sure your onboarding process is fit for purpose – don’t make it hard to help!

For those volunteers coming into long term roles, ensure they have a clear induction process prepared. It should introduce the new volunteer to their team and give them a chance to learn more about their role.  

Make sure you have the capacity to follow up references, get DBS checks done (if required) and provide any training. 

Our partners, Ucheck, can do online DBS checks quickly.

For short term roles, you may simply want to introduce the volunteer to the person they will be working with directly and have an induction checklist to ensure they understand what is expected. 

Step 6 – Champion your volunteers

Champion and motivate your volunteers by providing them with information and feedback about the impact their time is having. This gives them the ‘feel good factor’ and demonstrates how important they are to your organisation.

Proactively and safely communicate with your volunteers by using a community management platform like Groop the safe and secure platform that helps to manage your volunteers and share important information with them. 


If you want to find out more about how to move ahead with your volunteering plan or strategy, come along to our Conference:


It takes place on 21st  November 2019 at Baden-Powell House, London.

Use the code GRJO10 to receive 10% off your tickets.

This blog was written by:

Written by Linda Cantillon-Guyatt