How to manage volunteers

How to manage volunteers

Your volunteers are a valuable asset. Approximately seven million people in England took part in formal volunteering at least once a month in 2022. Their effectiveness will have an impact on your organisation. What’s more, once you’ve recruited trusted volunteers, you don’t want to lose them, so it’s essential to take a strategic approach to volunteer management. This includes training, supervision and recognition of the people that do your organisation’s valuable work. Here’s our guide on how to manage volunteers.

Creating a volunteer-centric culture

Creating a positive company culture for volunteers is just as important as the one you have created for your employees. Including the work of volunteers in your values should enable them to feel part of the mission.

Think about:

  • Creating an employee handbook/culture book for volunteers.
  • Incorporate volunteer stories into your branding and marketing.
  • Inform employees about volunteer success stories.

Be clear on expectations

Clear communication channels are key to volunteer management. Goals, expectations, and the impact of their work need to be clearly articulated. This includes providing detailed job descriptions, schedules and any training that’s needed.


Match opportunities to skills and interests

Your volunteers are likely to have a diverse range of skills and interests to tap into. By taking the time to understand their strengths and passions you can offer a real sense of fulfilment.

Invest in training and development

While volunteers don’t typically receive compensation, investing in their training and development can reap rewards. Volunteers are likely to stay with you if you provide relevant training sessions, resources and mentorship opportunities to help them grow personally and professionally. This will help to enrich their volunteer experience.

Recognise and reward

Don’t underestimate the power of appreciation. For volunteers giving up their time and resources, acknowledging their commitment and impact is essential. There are numerous ways to demonstrate appreciation. These include formal recognition events, newsletters, or just personalised thank you notes and gifts. Even a small gesture to signal appreciation goes a long way.

Set up clear feedback mechanisms

Allow a clear line of communication for volunteers to offer feedback. This will help them to share their thoughts and ideas. This two-way dialogue helps improve volunteer programmes but will also strengthen the bond between your charity and its volunteers.

  • Are the volunteers clear on who and how they feedback/speak to a member of staff?
  • Consider volunteer surveys to check in periodically and understand if they need additional support.

Be flexible and inclusive

With a diverse range of volunteers comes a need to accommodate various lifestyles and commitments. Flexibility is therefore key. Creating an inclusive environment that welcomes individuals from different backgrounds will ensure that everyone feels included.

Look after their wellbeing

Volunteers, like any workforce, can experience burnout. It’s therefore essential to monitor their workload, as you would an employee, and be aware of the signs of exhaustion and burnout.


  • Signposting volunteers to wellbeing resources that could be useful.
  • Checking on wellbeing during volunteer feedback communications.

Volunteers are often the unsung heroes who bring your work to life. By adopting a strategic and people-centric approach to volunteer management, you can optimise their impact and create a fulfilling and lasting partnership.