What do a brass band, a spaniel and a plant sale have in common?  

4 June 2024
How to find volunteers and for volunteers to find you

By Carole Roberts, Community Support Delivery Manager at Community First Yorkshire. Carole was previously Volunteer Coordinator at the National Trust, Huddersfield Mission and Love Bread CIC.

Walking up to the Milton Rooms in Malton recently, we heard them before we saw them: a local brass band banging out some familiar tunes. A fantastic way to attract attention to the local Rotary Club’s recent ‘Involve’ event: an annual showcase for community groups to reach out to potential volunteers and a chance for local people to check out the volunteering opportunities in their area.

The main hall was jam-packed with stalls; everything from the local museum to environmental groups; all with leaflets, freebies and, most importantly, passion for their cause. This is what makes such events so powerful: meeting the people who are best placed to recruit new volunteers and to promote their own brand of social action.

In the volunteering sector, there is often talk of difficulties in recruiting new volunteers, with follow-up challenges around retainment and reward. A 2022 survey of NAVCA members showed 63% of members having significant concerns about recruiting volunteers, with 55% worried about support and retention. Having adapted to a pandemic volunteering model, we must now all adapt again to a post-Covid model. Flexibility, inclusivity, and experimentation are emerging themes. For example, joining in with one-off social action events or becoming a trustee offer up all the benefits of traditional volunteering models without the often unrealistic demands of ‘every Tuesday morning’.

Back to the Involve event and surely making the time to connect in an authentic way must top the list for effective ways to get people involved. Worried about your lack of experience or whether a role can be adapted to suit your needs? Asking the questions face to face will open up the discussion and help your decision. Are your volunteering roles interesting enough to attract new people? This is a chance to compare and contrast with other organisations. We would all find it easier to turn up for the first time if we recognise a face or arrange to meet someone. We would also appreciate clear expectations and appropriate tasks in what we choose to do.

Many people at the event were looking ahead to retirement; searching for an activity and a cause to smooth the transition from employment. People transferring their skills and experience from one sector to another; making a difference and maintaining social connection.  ‘Involve’ showcased people helping people and communities supporting communities. With so many benefits and beneficiaries, the future of volunteering looks bright.


If you want to post your volunteering role for free on our Volunteering in North Yorkshire (VINY) website, sign up here.

Need help with recruiting and retaining volunteer, or any other area of volunteer management, get in touch with our Community Support North Yorkshire team.

Want to get in touch with fellow volunteer managers and coordinators and share advice and learning, why not join our Volunteer Coordinators Network?