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Dave Thomas, NCVS Volunteering Development Officer

What do we offer our volunteers?

Dave Thomas, Volunteering Development Officer at NCVS writes...

One of the most important questions that I ask people who tell me that they want to volunteer is “what do you want to get from your volunteering?” The answer to this question can go a very long way to helping them to choose the opportunity that best suits them from the ones on offer on our 'Search for Opportunities' page.

As Leaders of Volunteers, we know what we would like volunteers to do for us and our organisation. We create our roles to meet those needs, but very often we struggle to identify what the volunteer will get from volunteering. Very often we write, “experience” or “meeting people” or “new skills”. 

If that really was all you can offer in return to somebody giving you a precious and irreplaceable gift, that looks like a very unequal exchange. And your volunteer’s time is a precious and irreplaceable gift.

I would like to challenge us all to spend more time thinking about what your volunteer roles really offer and writing better role profiles that recognise the value of their contribution to us and make sure that what we offer is at least of equal value. So, if we say we are offering 'experience', make it clear what experience we are offering, if our role description involves 'meeting people,' be more descriptive about the types of people your volunteer will be interacting with, and try to be more specific about the skills you are offering in return.

But can you go further and add an extra element to your volunteer promotion that makes your role and your organisation even more attractive to a potential volunteer?

Although I always emphasise that volunteering is not employment and that we should avoid the language and culture of work in our volunteer programmes, we can enhance our volunteer's experience by providing perks that we may already be offering to staff, these don’t have to cost a fortune; I have found some great free and low cost ideas online here. Further information and guidance about recruiting, welcoming and involving new volunteers can be found on the NCVO website.

If you would like to explore how to write better volunteer role descriptions in more depth, you can book a place on one of our 'Writing Opportunities to Attract Volunteers' sessions. Our next course date is Wednesday 22 September 2021, from 10am-11am, find out more and book your place here.

To view all our available courses for Leaders of Volunteers, visit our Training and Development page.


Date Posted: 
Tuesday, 29 June, 2021

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