Recruit the right volunteers for your organisation

Volunteers are, of course, a great asset to you cause but quite often it isn’t easy to recruit the right pe


Serves – most voluntary organisations
Preparation – time to ascertain what skills your organisation needs
Cooking time – approximately 3 weeks


  • the tasks
  • skills and experience
  • recruitment strategy
  • referees
  • the interview
  • DBS check
  • confidentiality agreement


  1. For each volunteer role listed, draw up a simple “job description” of the tasks you would like the volunteer to undertake. Then work out what skills and experience you need to carry out this role and draw up a simple “person specification”. Set it out clearly but informally.
  2. Make sure the recruitment of volunteers takes account of your existing policies, for example regarding health and safety, GDPR (data protection), equality and diversity as well as the recruitment itself policy itself.
  3. Apply your recruitment strategy to suit, e.g. you may want to advertise on social media and perhaps the press, or at the local volunteer centre, as well as putting the word about in your local community or among people associated with your organisation or your cause.
  4. Let those interested in volunteering have the “job description” and “person specification”, together with information about your organisation, and ask them either to fill out an application form, or to send in their cv. If you have no experience of working with them, it is best to ask them to provide one or two independent referees as well.
  5. Decide which of the applicants to interview, you may want to see all of them. You could write to the referees in advance of the interview or leave it till after.
  6. The interview should not be overly formal– people are offering a gift of time, not seeking paid employment. However, you need to find out if they can carry out the role. Explain your organisation and the roles required of them but allow them enough time to talk about themselves. You need to find out about them, their motivations and skills. Ideally at least two people should carry out the interview to get a more balanced perspective.
  7. You may need to submit a recruit for a DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service), depending for example if their roles involve coming into contact with children and/or vulnerable adults. If the volunteer has already subscribed to the DBS update service you will not need to apply for a new certificate, you’ll l be able to quickly perform an instant, online free check that the existing certificate is up to date.
  8. Make sure that you receive the references and the DBS update prior to the volunteer starting work. In addition, you may need to ask them to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure they understand their responsibilities prior to them having access to any sensitive information or service users.

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