Things to consider when making decisions about recruiting participants for a volunteer programme.

  • What works well elsewhere?
  • How many participants can take part?
  • What organisations can support your recruitment?
  • How will the programme connect to organisational objectives?
  • Have you consulted with your target groups to understand how they will get to your venues and their availability to volunteer?
  • What extra support will need to be put in place for someone to succeed, if necessary?

Our approach
Who we recruit?
if: Volunteering for wellbeing is an intergenerational programme with distinct target groups;

  • Young people (16 – 25 years)
  • Ex-service personnel
  • Older people (aged 50+).

Recommendations from consultation identified the following:

  • Intergenerational learning would add value and creates opportunities for sharing experiences, knowledge and perspectives
  • Each of these groups were identified by each museum as being under-represented in the museum workforce
  • Volunteers who are ex-service personnel are able to bring a very personal interpretation to museum collections

How we recruit
For many people who join a programme like if, this would be their first experience of volunteering.  Most participants are not self-selecting and traditional marketing (e.g. posters), are not effective. Strong relationships with referral agencies and word-of-mouth are the most effective ways to recruit. To identify local referral agencies and develop relationships with staff who can advocate for the programme, the if team will use a combination of the following:

  • Informal communication e.g. phone calls and emails
  • Meetings at referral agencies or the museums
  • Presentations at key networks, conferences and group sessions
  • Dissemination of marketing information e.g. Recruitment leaflet
  • Facilitated visits to the partner museums, which may include informal meetings with volunteers on gallery

Think about which organisations you want to target for referral to your programme. These agencies might also be able to advise you, help shape your programme and help you to meet the needs of diverse volunteers. Examples of organisations we work with are:

  • Jobcentre Plus
    Jobcentre Plus supports people of working age from welfare into work and helps employers to fill their vacancies. We attended JCP staff communication meetings usually held once a month, about 20- 30 advisers attend.
  • Connexions
    A careers information, advice, guidance and personal support service for young people aged 13–19
  • Poppy Factory
    The Poppy Factory has been piloting an employment services model and has successfully placed more than 100 veterans of all ages in jobs beyond the Factory, all around the UK

Why we recruit in this way
For many people who join, this is the first time that they had undertaken any type of volunteering. Most volunteers are not self-selecting; they do not approach the Museums about volunteering on the off-chance that there might be a role available. Equally, we find that people don’t respond in great numbers to a poster or leaflet about the opportunity. We have found that word-of-mouth via referral agencies and other groups is the most successful method of recruiting our target audience.

Consider what support applicants may need throughout the recruitment process. When planning your recruitment, make sure you identify the scope of what you can offer applicants. Things to consider include:

  • The number of applicants you can comfortably deal with throughout the process
  • The limitations of any spaces you will use for open days and one to one meetings
  • How to make spaces comfortable and stimulating
  • Being open about the how many volunteers you can accommodate, the limitations of the roles and any security checks they may need to complete.

Recruitment flow chart