How to attract the volunteering skills you need

Hannah Ovenden, Senior Marketing Communications Executive at Hireserve, has written this guest blog for the February 2017 edition of our newsletter ‘Shared Agenda’. We hope you enjoy it.


In a recent ‘National Trustee Survey’, web and digital skills were listed as the most in demand by Board members. * Marketing, campaigning and HR expertise swiftly followed.

Attracting volunteers with relevant experience can help charitable organisations plug this skills gap. The question is, how can you encourage people to donate their skills to your organisation?

Change perceptions of volunteering

When you ask people to picture a volunteering role, they probably won’t think of a social media champion, graphic designer or sales manager.

Challenge preconceptions of ‘traditional’ volunteering placements by using engaging images, quotes and stories on your website. Share case studies of volunteers working in innovative roles. If you offer training opportunities to help people further develop their skills, make sure to promote these too.

Be upfront – but flexible – about time commitments. Skills-based volunteers are likely to be working, so you need to manage expectations around what you require from them. It’s equally important, however, to spread the message that volunteering can fit in around full-time employment. Let people know that you’re open to discussing how they can fit a volunteering role in amongst existing commitments.

Lastly, be sure to emphasise the positive impact volunteers’ skills will have on your organisation’s cause. Potential volunteers will want to know what difference they can make and how their expertise can contribute to something meaningful.

Work with local businesses

Employers are starting to recognise that when team members volunteer in their own time, they can develop skills and knowledge to aid their career progression.

As an example, a team member may be approaching a promotion opportunity, but doesn’t have strong enough experience in a certain area. By finding a suitable volunteering role, the staff member can develop the required skills in an alternative environment and widen their professional network.

Don’t be afraid to approach businesses. Often employers don’t know where to start and have little idea about the sheer range of charities and volunteering roles available.

Local networking or Chamber of Commerce events can be fruitful. These events put you in front of a wide range of local businesses and are excellent for making introductions, discussing the skill gaps you need to fill and raising awareness of your organisation.

Don’t lose volunteers through your application process

You may have a careers section on your website to promote paid staff vacancies. But do you have a page showcasing your volunteering opportunities too?

Make it easy for potential volunteers to browse and apply for roles.  Candidates shouldn’t need to request an application pack in the post or return hard copy application forms. Instead, provide a professional, online application experience for your volunteer candidates. This should include simple and short application forms, consistent email communications throughout the process and a quick time to ‘hire’.

Investing in your application process will reduce the risk of volunteer candidates losing patience or dropping out halfway through to pursue a different opportunity. Candidates will be left with a positive perception of your organisation and they may be more likely to encourage their colleagues and friends to apply for a volunteering role.

Valuing volunteers

Ultimately, we know you need volunteers of all strengths and skills – from charity shop staff, drivers and companions, to fundraisers, copywriters and trustees.

To attract and encourage volunteers, whether their day job is as a junior Digital Marketing Executive or an experienced HR Director, you need to demonstrate how much you value all your people.

Through your application process, communications, or commitment to volunteer training and support, ensure volunteers know they are the backbone of your organisation. It’s their skills, time and effort that make a difference to your cause.

 *Original source: NFP Synergy

About Hireserve

Hireserve ATS recruitment software is trusted by third sector organisations across the world, including the MND Association, RNLI and Marie Stopes International. Hireserve has also launched a new business volunteering platform, in partnership with Poole and Bournemouth CVS.


To find out more, contact the Hireserve team on 01256 634 140 or drop us a note at



Share this

More Insights

Our partners

AHRMIO Association of Mental Health Providers AVM Bond CDR Charities HR Network Charity Comms CHS Alliance Heritage Volunteering Group Hospice UK Humentum Hospice Volunteer Managers Network National Care Forum NCVO Voluntary Organisations Disability Group

Get in touch

+44 (0)1865 263720

Follow @AgendaConsult
Find us on LinkedIn

Agenda Consulting
Belsyre Court
57 Woodstock Road

Company No: 4509427