in News August 16, 2017

Supporting & Managing Volunteers

The Foundation of Social Improvement (FSI) support the UK’s charity sector by providing training across the UK.

Their webinar on supporting and managing volunteers focused on the following:

  1. The categorisation of volunteers
  2. How to best engage
  3. Recruitment of volunteers
  4. What you need to know


  • Categorisation of Volunteers


According to the FSI,  there are five  main categorisations of volunteers:

  1. The Baby Boomers: Often described as the social group with the most time and commitment. Refers to individual close to retirement age.  

Pros: This social group would be a great asset for those looking for frequent and long standing commitment potential.

Things to bear in mind: This social group frequently looks for professionalism in the organisations they are a part of. They make need extra training and support on social media, if your charity is one that often uses social media platforms as part of publicity and communication.

  1. Wanderers: They are most frequently middle-aged and often leading a busy work lifestyle. Common fields of volunteering interest of this group tends to be in fundraising and other short-term fields.

Pros: Provide effective skills gained from their work life into your organisation.

Things to bear in mind: Due to their busy lifestyle, they are often not as keen or likely to be frequent in helping. Relying solely on their volunteering support not advised.

  1. Families: A category growing in popularity over recent years with ages generally varying in scope from young to more mature families.

Pros: Often provide multiple volunteers and with relatively stable frequency in commitment.

Things to bear in mind: Need to provide experiences that are often family friendly and also varied so as to accommodate members of the family. Recruitment and selection of families a lot more difficult to do than it is for individuals.

  1. Generation V (16-24 year olds): Described as young adults often in education or freshly out of education looking primarily for training and experience time and opportunities.

Pros: Often have good knowledge of social media/I.T packages (Such as MS Word, Excel etc.) and often possess a willingness to learn and adapt.

Things to bear in mind: They primarily are looking at gaining experience and training to progress their CV so they often require variety in their tasks and engagements. Also, may need flexibility because of educational obligations

  1. Rising Stars (Corporate world volunteers): Often sent by companies to keep staff engaged and to develop certain skill sets and areas within those staff.

Pros: Provide high level of skill and organisation which likely will positively affect the capabilities of the charity.

Things to bear in mind: Often a one off. Rising stars unlikely to continue with their volunteering because of the fact it was initially set up by the corporate industry to develop their skills. Need opportunities to keep the, engaged and develop their skills.

  1. How Best to Engage

Having come to terms with the categories of volunteers, the next step is to understand how your charity can effectively engage with these volunteers.  

The most crucial factor to begin with is preparation. If you do not prepare early on, from the very start, then the possibility of mishaps and problems arising increase, which may lead to volunteers being negatively impacted by the potential inability to be productive.

Tips for preparation:

  • Create plans and objectives often spanning 1-2 years into the future. This means planning what activities you will be providing, what tasks are going to need to be done, what steps volunteers can take to achieve these tasks.


  • Emphasis on accountability; volunteers must know that they are held accountable for certain actions and objectives given to them and set out in your plan.


  • Remember to support volunteers both in terms of personal and professional fulfilment. Volunteers are not employees and each one has their own interest and motivation for being within your charity, something that should be accommodated within your planning.


  • Reimbursement of ‘out of pocket’ expenses to ensure that unnecessary financial strain is not placed on them for their good will.
  1. Recruitment of volunteers

Planning is effective but with an ill-suited volunteer for your organisation, even the best planning can have trouble creating the desired effect.

When: An important thing to bear in mind is knowing when to begin recruiting.

Recruitment should be acted upon when there is a specific plan of action already set up and when a clear understanding of what is needed from them is established. Once this is established recruitment can be better enacted.

What: You must also take into account ‘what’ the volunteers will be developing (both personally for their own benefit and for your organisation).

Recruitment is not just about ‘what’ the volunteer can do for you but also what you can do for them.

Where: Another key step to take into account is ‘where’ you go to recruit these volunteers.

Good places to start is the local volunteer service, library service, word of mouth and time banks. This is the more ‘classic’ way of recruiting volunteers but this scope of recruitment pools in recent years has thankfully increased.

Websites such as, social media sites and even local magazines are all increasingly becoming new sources of recruits and can provide great potential for your organisation. Your charity’s stakeholders may be able to provide sources of recruitment if they are informed and told that you are looking for volunteers.

  1. What you need to know

Have a clear recruitment process in place, to ensure the right volunteer is selected, according to your charity’s remit. This should cover the application, interview, tasks specification process.

A volunteers past employment, qualifications, skills, personal motivation for the role and aspirations are but a number of important factors that can help determine a candidate’s suitability.

Once a volunteer has been recruited, a ‘welcome pack’ is advisable. Relevant documents and information (such as key contacts, key staff, key dates, organisational goals, financial reimbursement procedures, fire exit plans etc.) will ensure your volunteer gets off to the best start possible and impact your organisation positively early on.

in News August 16, 2017