What sort of volunteers do you need?

Think carefully about what kind of volunteers are needed. Where do you need them? What kind of skills and experience would be most beneficial? Will you offer any formal or informal training or induction? Also think about how long you need volunteers for, and what kind of expenses you will want to pay. When the role description is ready, make it available from your website or newsletter, so you have somewhere to direct interested parties in the first instance. Be sure to ‘sell’ your charity – recruiting volunteers can be competitive business.

Recruiting the right people – Marketing

Once your volunteer role description is ready, the next step is to get your request out. There are many easy and free ways to do this. Ask people who are already connected to your charity and see if they would like to volunteer e.g. staff, trustees, donors or even friends and family of employees. Using social media is also a great way to get the request for volunteers out. Other means such as advertising on your website or newsletters or you could search online:

Recruiting the right people – Selection

The responsibility of the role your volunteers will depend on how harsh the selection process will be. In some cases a simple informal chat about the charity and work will be sufficient. In others, a formal interview and references will be needed. Working with children or vulnerable adults will also mean a method of safeguarding the clients and the volunteers will be needed, this may mean a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Getting your volunteers ready

It is important that the full potential of your volunteers should be used. They must be informed and motivated constantly for them to want to contribute towards your charity. Regardless of the role, each volunteer should have some type of induction – from a telephone call or training course, depending on the type of role. Take time to reinforce the message of the volunteers work and have some sort of written agreement, which makes the volunteers duties very clear.

Volunteers and Fundraising

A report by the NCVO Civil Society Almanac highlighted that 73% of adults in England had volunteered at least once in the previous year, of these, 65% were involved in raising and handling money. Volunteer fundraisers are clearly a valuable resource. Volunteer fundraising is one of the most prevalent forms of fundraising and is the most frequent way in which the majority of the public engage with and encounter fundraising practice. Effective volunteer management can help maximise the value of volunteers and ensure they feel valued. As with all supporters, stewardship is key.

Defining types of Volunteers

There are two main types of volunteers – ‘on behalf of’ and ‘in aid of’: ‘On behalf of’ volunteers are volunteers that have authority from the fundraising organisation to fundraise. The organisation knows that they are raising money and may help the volunteers by providing advice and resources. ‘In aid of’ volunteers have no authority from the fundraising organisation and are acting on their own initiative. The first that the fundraising organisation knows about this activity is often the receiving of the cheque.

The distinction between the different types of volunteer can be important in terms of establishing liability should anything go wrong. It is not always clear if a volunteer is acting ‘on behalf of’ or ‘in aid of’ but it is something that you need to be aware of.

Volunteer fundraising: more than shaking a tin?

Once you are more familiar with the rules around using volunteers to generate income for your organisation, you’ll need to think about what kind of fundraising you actually want done. Volunteers are commonly encouraged to run fundraising events, or generate sponsorship, but they are often willing to help in lots of more specialist ways, particularly if your organisation is small.

Like all volunteers, a volunteer fundraiser will need training and support, particularly around issues such as Gift Aid for instance. You might also want to give a volunteer fundraiser income generation targets – do you have the resources to support and manage this?

  • Do you have good volunteer inductions in place?

It’s hard to be passionate about something you don’t have direct experience of. Existing volunteers should already know your work well, but if you’re asking new people with specialist skills to help, make sure you’re able to enthuse them by showing them what you do.

  • How much financial access and responsibility are you prepared to hand over?

Defining the limits of a fundraising volunteer’s responsibility is essential given the high level of external relationships they will hopefully develop. Having standard communication standards (for instance a case for support) and agreed limits of authority in place will help.

Once you are clear on which types of income your organisation is ready to pursue, then you will be able to start asking your supporters for more specialist help. How about getting a tax specialist, or a marketing expert on board? And if you need to look further afield, your local volunteering centre should be able to help you craft an enticing advert, or you can take a look at Volunteering England’s guide to creating volunteer roles:


A-Z of fundraising ideas | Budgets | Corporate Donations and Sponsorship | Funding Sources – where to look for support | How to Fundraise in Tough Times | How to Write an Annual Report | How to Write an E-Newsletter | Individual and Small-scale Giving | Local Authority Funding | Local Community Foundations | Online Fundraising | Running Local Events | The Big Lottery Fund | Using Social Media | Using Volunteers | Writing and Application to a Charitable Trust | Writing Effective Fundraising Letters |

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