Seven Deadly Sins [2] Misinformation @DudleyCVS @NCVOVolunteers #wiseupwednesdays

sds -2Our second deadly sin is MISINFORMATION. Muddied messages and potential volunteers are definitely not a good thing, particularly when promoting volunteer roles.

Honest advertising and recruitment materials are essential when recruiting volunteers to ensure you get the right match for your role and organisation. When a volunteer is looking at your advert, they will be able to see if the role is right for them or not, giving them an opportunity to see if they have the right skills. You can always send them out a more detailed role description and the more information you give them, the better.

Your adverts don’t have to be lengthy, concise is good, but they need to have some basic information, so when you are putting together your materials, ensure you cover at least some of the following. If you can’t fit it all in the advert, why not give a weblink for more info?

Role title

Say what it is – don’t just put ‘volunteer’. After-school group leader, sports coach, befriender, treasurer, driver, carer… Do you need to use the word ‘volunteer’ at all?


Why this role is important – what difference does it make?

What the volunteer will be doing?

Describe the main tasks/activities of the role:

  • Will it involve working on their own, or as part of a team, or assisting someone else?
  • What does it involve – e.g. travel, caring, manual work, organising, assisting, leading, teaching, customer service, computers, fundraising, arts, sports…? Indoors or outdoors?
  • What are the specific tasks?
  • If the role involves direct work with service-users/customers, give relevant information about their needs.

Skills, experience and qualities needed

Be clear and realistic about the minimum level of skill/experience required to start this role, (e.g. a community transport driver might need a clean driving licence and good people skills).

Although it might be tempting to compile a long list of the qualities of your ‘ideal’ volunteer, try to focus on what’s really important to get them started in the role.  For example, asking that people have a commitment to your aims and objectives at this stage (when they barely know what you do) could be quite off-putting to someone who’s only just heard of your organisation. Commitment will develop if volunteers are valued and treated with respect.  If the role is suitable for absolutely anyone, say so. Consider what support you could offer to help people develop once in the role.

When and where

  • Times/days needed – what days, what time of day, how often, how much flexibility is there?
  • Where will the volunteer be based? Is this different from the main organisational address? Will they work from home?

Support offered

Give information about expenses, induction and training, supervision/line management, insurance cover etc.

What they could get out of it

What are the benefits of volunteering with your organisation? E.g. job satisfaction, a supportive environment, training, learning new skills, using existing skills, chance to get out in the fresh air, meet new people, be part of something worthwhile…

Other information

Do volunteers need to be able to commit to a certain level of training?  Will they need to register with the Vetting and Barring Scheme because this role is ‘regulated activity’ (from July 2010)? What is involved in your application/selection process?

What to do if you’re interested

Contact details of a named person – give more than one method of contact.  Explain the process – what will happen next?

I need help!

The Volunteer Centre can help you with any area of good practice when involving volunteers, so please get in touch or 01384 573381 and ask for Eileen

Seven Deadly Sins [1] Disorganisation @DudleyCVS @NCVOVolunteers #wiseupwednesdays

sds -1Our first deadly sin is DISORGANISATION – involving volunteers with no planning. As we all know, planning ahead is the key to ensuring success in what we do and involving volunteers is no different.  Although you may desperately need volunteers to help you out in your group or organisation, it’s best to think about a few things first!

  • Talking to staff team/other volunteers – if it’s the first time you’ve involved volunteers, make sure you discuss it with your staff team first, to ensure they understand that the volunteers are not there to do them out of a job, but are taking on a complementary role, such as helping them to better support clients attending a day centre. If you are an existing team of committed volunteers who’ve been together for a long time, discuss together why you may need to involve other volunteers, so they are welcomed and made to feel part of the team.
  • Who will support them – volunteers should have support, so you need to think who will do so and if they have the right skills. The Volunteer Centre runs training called ‘Essential Volunteer Management’, so it may be a good idea to enrol them on the next course.
  • Where to put them – do you have physical space for them to volunteer? If they are for example helping with an admin role, is there somewhere to sit and do their tasks?
  • Finances – volunteers are not free and require at least an investment of time. Do you have the resources to support them properly? Also, ideally volunteers should not be out of pocket, so do you have a budget for volunteers expenses? If you can’t afford to pay volunteer expenses and you tell them this, it’s their choice whether to volunteer for you or not. If you are looking at a funding bid, it’s always sensible to factor in volunteer expenses where possible too. 
  • Training – are your volunteers going to need training? If so do you have a budget and/or a member of the team to deliver it? 
  • Role and role description – every volunteer should have one of these, so they know exactly what their role and responsibilities are. We have some great templates if you are not sure where to start.

Plan recruitment process – you need to consider:

  • Where you will look for volunteers
  • How you will promote the opportunities
  • Various stages of the recruitment process, including looking at the interview process and how you’ll assess skills.
  • Have you got an application form?
  • Do you need to make special arrangements for volunteers who may have a disability, not have English as a first language etc.?
  • Can existing staff volunteer?
  • How to manage service users who want to volunteer
  • Again the Volunteer Centre can help you with this if you need support.

Policies/procedures and statutory responsibilities – you will need to look at the following:

  • Will you take volunteers through Job Centre Plus? Do you need guidance re: benefits?
  • Risk assessments
  • Screening e.g. DBS check/references
  • Health and safety
  • Insurance
  • Data protection
  • Confidentiality agreement

Other good practice to plan ahead!

  • How are you going to value volunteers? – although this may not involve formal planning as such, it’s important to recognise and value each and every volunteer.
  • Induction – every volunteer should have an induction so they understand their role, meet colleagues and know important information such as health and safety considerations, their rights and also where the kettle is!
  • Handbook – is another important tool when involving volunteers. This a useful resource for them with essential information about their organisation, role and practical things like how to claim expenses.
  • Exit strategy – although this may seem a strange thing to plan, you need to consider how you will support volunteers who wish to leave and it’s essential you know why they are leaving where possible, as it may indicate problems within your organisation, or with other staff/volunteers.

I need help!

The Volunteer Centre can help you with any area of good practice when involving volunteers, so please get in touch or 01384 573381 and ask for Eileen