Volunteer advice: Top tips for recruiting and retaining volunteers

Sara Newson, Sported Volunteer

Sara Newson, Sported volunteerBe proactive!

Don’t wait for volunteers to fall into your lap, go out and recruit some!


Market your volunteering opportunities as widely as possible. Social media is a powerful recruitment tool and testimonials from current volunteers in the form of short video clips work really well. Potential volunteers will feel more familiar with your organisation before making initial contact and have a better idea of what they can expect.


Websites such as Vinspired.com, sportsvolunteering.net and do-it.org will promote your volunteering opportunities for you. Contact your local Volunteer Centre; they can offer advice and support as well as promoting your opportunities. Students are a great volunteering resource (but be aware of long summer holidays), so contact your local Student Union and see if you can attend events such as Freshers Fayres to drum up interest. As well as marketing opportunities externally don’t forget to market them to members and parents! Find out what skills the people who already access your club have and make use of them.


Have straightforward and transparent processes

Ensure that when a potential volunteer expresses an interest in your role they understand what the selection and induction process will be and what will be expected of them. This should be set out in your Volunteer Policy.


If volunteers are required to wait for references or a DBS check to come back before they can start keep in contact with them during this period to let them know that they haven’t been forgotten (obtaining references can be arduous). If volunteers need to attend an interview or an assessment session give as much information as you can about what will be involved. If volunteers need to undergo training be clear when that will take place and who will deliver it. Have a clear role description so that volunteers know exactly what will be expected of them.


Say thank you!

It seems obvious but it’s easy to overlook. As well as literally saying the words, show volunteers that they are appreciated by taking the time to understand what motivates them. If they are motivated by contributing to your organisation’s goals make sure you share with them information on how well the organisation is doing and what the future development plans are. If they are motivated by wanting to develop their skills see if you can find accredited training for them to participate in. If they are motivated by the opportunity to socialise and make friends organise regular social activities such as coffee mornings or a group outings.


Ask for feedback

Asking volunteers to give feedback is a great way to improve your volunteering procedures. You could ask for feedback via a focus group, an online survey (there are some great free packages around) or through an informal chat. When you get feedback make sure you act on it! If you choose not to act on it explain your reasons for your decision to the volunteer so that they understand and don’t feel overlooked.


If you’re a Sported member and want some short-term help recruiting volunteers, why not try our new ‘Light Touch’ mentoring service! For more information, email volunteer@sported.org.uk