Methods for recruiting volunteers

There are many ways of recruiting volunteers and the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter has become more important. However, many groups realise that not all potential volunteers use social media or have access to computers, so printed adverts or flyers are still important. The following list includes some typical methods of recruitment.

  • Word of mouth: current volunteers encourage friends or family to volunteer, which often works particularly well as existing volunteers can be enthusiastic and realistic about what it is like to work with the organisation.
  • Organisations’ own websites usually include a section on volunteering, advertising specific roles or general appeals for help.
  • Umbrella organisations (most towns have a council for voluntary service) advertise vacancies for their members.
  • National websites such as advertise roles for large and small organisations.
  • Local magazines or newspapers, organisations’ membership magazines and newsletters can carry advertisements. Features on a particular organisation in the press or on television often bring in volunteers as they draw attention to a cause or issue.
  • Libraries, doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and community meeting places will often display advertisements, as well as around the organisation itself (offices and other venues).
  • Social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can reach a wide range of the public.
  • Recruitment open days at the organisation itself can be effective, as are big volunteer recruitment events or charity fairs where different organisations group together.

Activity 4

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes.

If you are currently volunteering, or have volunteered in the past, which of the methods above were used to recruit you? Did you respond to an advert/feature or did you actively go looking for a role and if so, how did you approach it? If you are not volunteering, which of the methods do you think would most appeal to you and why?


It is difficult to generalise about which methods appeal to different people. An example: Rosy decided she wanted to volunteer in gardening so used the do-it website to search for opportunities within 20 miles of her house and found a specific advert with the National Trust. The advert appealed to her because the head gardener was looking to develop a new team and was offering training and a lot of variety in the tasks involved.

Most organisations use a mix of methods to recruit volunteers, depending on the role in question and the budget available for advertising. In the past, many organisations’ adverts have been quite general, perhaps saying something like ‘We need volunteers’ and listing some activities or roles. However, many have changed their approach in order to appeal to more people, particularly where they have found it difficult to recruit or want to recruit different types of people. In these cases, they often focus on the reasons why people volunteer: for example, learning new skills, getting work experience, meeting new people, making a difference, getting out in the fresh air, health benefits and so on.

Focusing on what the organisation is looking for, as well as what the person will get from volunteering, is also more commonplace today. It is considered a good way to involve more young people who may not have thought about volunteering before. It also gives people a better idea of what they are applying for, and what their expectations of the role might then be.

Starting point for recruiting

Meeting and interviewing volunteers