Hello and welcome to this recording from Support Cambridgeshire a partnership of Cambridge CVS and Hunts Forum. This module is one of several recordings we have developed to help people who are considering setting up or developing a charity. This session is introducing the idea of attracting volunteers to your organisation. To make sure you can attract the people your group needs with the resources you have. I will also discuss volunteer engagement, which is an on-going journey, it requires your group to begin, develop, and maintain a relationship with your volunteers. This training is here to support you with that first step. The guidance links, available in the transcript you will find alongside this recording, will provide you with all the materials we mention and further resources.
I will be introducing the topic of how we as groups attract, recruit, and engage people to volunteer with our good causes, events, projects and our groups in general. Throughout this training I will refer to an example of a monthly intergenerational coffee/tea morning run by a Community Group called Welcome Wednesdays. Welcoming older adults and babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and their carers to share a social opportunity together, with games, toys, and arts and crafts.
I will look at answering these questions in turn throughout this short presentation.
Who could help?
How do we attract people to support good causes?
What will you ask of them?
What else might appeal to them?
Where will you find them?
How will you keep them engaged?
Moving on to what’s needed? What does your group need? Make a list and break down your tasks. Clearly letting people know what you need so that you recruit volunteers who know what their precise roles will be. Expectations for everyone are set from the beginning.
For our Welcome Wednesday monthly coffee/tea morning we can break down the tasks as follows:
running a reception desk – sign in sheet?
Kitchen duty- refreshments
Tidy up duties
Set up duties
Can more than one person take on a task so could one task become an activity for a family or group of friends.
Distinguish between the essential and the desirable.
WHO are you going to ask to volunteer to support your group or event? Consider who you may have already helped or who you hope to help? Starting with those you know can achieve quick wins. You can then connect with their networks. Think about who your target audience is. Consider the skills and experience your volunteer must have to be able to meet the needs you have identified. Thinking about your audience in terms of the barriers they may face and how they spend their time will help you to figure out where to find them and how to engage with them.
For our Welcome Wednesdays, we might be thinking of targeting young families/carers of young children; the barriers they face could be time, childcare, and family-friendly facilities. By breaking down tasks, ensuring that they are short, manageable tasks this may appeal to busy young families. In a venue with toilets that have baby changing facilities and pushchair accessibility. To target older adults we may again be considering accessibility, perhaps transport, and again manageable tasks that would be appealing.
How do you appeal to your target audience to encourage them to volunteer with your group or event? The Time Well Spent Survey concludes that despite the worldwide unprecedented changes between their first (2016) and second (2023) survey publication dates, the reason why volunteers choose to volunteer remains the same.
Make things better for others
Get satisfaction from results
Gain new skills
Have fun & make friends
The cause was important to them
They had spare time
What will you ask your volunteers to do? Make sure you know what you are asking for before you make the ask. Get their attention, persuade them that you are the group they need to support, tell them how they can provide this support
Your case for support should include:
What is the challenge?
Why hasn’t this been resolved?
Why should they care?
What should they do?
The aim is to grab, persuade and inspire your audience to support you.
Have a clear ask; for example.
Welcome Wednesdays want to hear from older people and families and carers of babies, toddlers and preschool children who want to have fun and build connections with their neighbours and community on a weekly basis by sharing time, games, activities, arts and crafts. Refreshments will be provided. To find out more contact Jigna on xxxxxx or email xxxx. Please feel free to share this opportunity with others.
This sounds friendly, is clear about time commitment, shows the positive impact they could have and what to do next to take action.
Where to ask?
You have now identified what your need is, who your audience is and what you want to ask for. Now you need to establish where to make the ask. So you will need to consider where your intended audience may see or hear your message; word of mouth, in print or on line. When thinking about where your community is, think about where they already visit and can help spread the word:
Shops – pharmacy, hairdresser, post office, newsagents
Those already running groups and activities
Who would you need to speak to and who is the person in the position of trust in each venue, and can you gain their support. If you are making your ask in print (for example leaflets or flyers), think about where your posters and leaflets will be seen and remember accessibility.
Online marketing is a large area but the key areas to consider would be:
What online platforms do you already use? If none which ones do your supporters or target audience already use?
Do you know who uses your existing (if any) online platforms. What is well used? Would it be best to focus energies on your website, Enewsletters, Facebook, Instagram, and/or other platforms such as next door or WhatsApp groups. Consider where and how to focus your time. For example, if you decide to use a new online platform will you have the time to train others on how to use it.
Once you have focused your attention on a few key platforms engage others, for example
tag CCVS or Hunts Forum in posts
Ask volunteers to share on their own platforms, you can provide templates
Again, keep accessibility in mind.
Stay positive and remember your existing supporters or volunteers. Volunteer Cambs is your go-to online platform for volunteering in Cambridgeshire. It is a website where non-profit groups can easily find those who want to volunteer their time for local charitable purposes. Add your organisation to the website as a group seeking volunteers.
Thinking about our Welcome Wednesdays we would target venues and spaces already visited by young families and carers of small children: parks, already established playgroups the actual venue and also their on line presence. So check their facebook groups.
When to ask. Do remember to consider when to make your ask. Think about when you need people. Is it a one off or an ongoing role and remember to build in time for reminders. But try to avoid bombarding people. Do remember to give yourself time to provide people the training and the information they need and time to follow-up with them.
Moving on to volunteer engagement. Remember engagement involves a journey, the first step is awareness moving on to building the emotional connection and then trust which will lead to continued engagement. You need to engage with them quickly and efficiently – this will depend on your resources. For example if contact is by email make sure they get a reply acknowledging and outlining what will happen next and by when. If you are asking them to call remember to add instructions to people who are interested in volunteering to your answer phone message, so they know they have got the right place. The contact they have should be welcoming and encouraging. Engage them; perhaps consider an open or taster day or drop in before they apply.
You have now successfully identified your needs. Your target audience was identified and your ask was made and you now have people supporting you to fulfil your need. It is now vital that you continue to engage with your supporters, even if they signed up for a one-off event ask them for permission to keep in touch, so that you can continue to engage with them and build awareness. You can continue to engage with them by sharing your stories, emotionally telling them how you help, how you have fun, share cute stuff, build a relationship and gain their trust. By developing your relationship and their trust, you are building your community.
Continue to provide a
Clear sense of what needs doing
Ownership of how things are done
Immediate feedback on how things are going
Remember to keep the door open. Think about volunteer engagement as a flexible and responsive model. You are responding to the needs of the individuals and your group. This will be a sustainable model moving forward. Can people take a step back when they need to, can they be involved in another way, can you keep in touch and is it easy for them to re-engage. Think about when and how you ask people for their permission to keep and share their contact details and how you maintain and manage this list of people. The accompanying transcript and guidance notes includes links for information and help with privacy and the General Data Protection Regulations.
So in conclusion
Focus your efforts and start with who you know, build your tribe
People respond to what they need and not necessarily what you need
People’s level of engagement varies and your ask should reflect this
Your message needs to be tailored to your audience. Use your stories to engage your tribe.
Break your ask down into manageable pieces
Use a range of communication channels
Keep people and data safe
Find ways to keep people engaged and reengaged
We hope that this training has been of assistance in your journey in volunteer recruitment, retainment and engagement. Please do reach out to us directly with any further support needs and do check out our website for further training resources.