Need a hand with your volunteer efforts?

Many organisations rely on amazing volunteers to make their vision happen. These passionate and dedicated people are valuable assets on the ground and are the hands of the mission. However, recruiting and retaining volunteers is a challenge because you are dealing with people who have different motivations and needs. This challenge is even more pointed now with the pandemic's safety measures, remote ways of communicating and even role changes due to lack of funding. 

If you're an organisation or someone working at a community venue that relies on volunteers, or if you're a council that is looking to share resources with volunteer-based groups, this guide to recruiting and taking care of volunteers is for you!

Your Organisation's Strengths

You're not starting from scratch!

It's useful to know that your organisation has strengths and valuable assets for volunteer recruitment and retention. These are your first port of call, so use them to your advantage!

  • Your mission - Remember why your organisation exists and who your community is. Why is your centre, club or group needed? Lean into your mission when the going gets tough, and communicate this well with your potential and current volunteers.

  • Speaking of current volunteers… - um, they're amazing! These fiercely loyal people see their role as a calling, not a job, willing to offer their time and talent to be of service. They are the best spokespeople for your volunteer efforts - and also your richest source of feedback. Make sure you are asking them what it takes to recruit and retain new people!

  • Speaking of people… - The isolation experienced because of lockdowns and 'social distancing' has made one fact more apparent than ever: people need meaningful connection. This is a major motivation for young volunteers now and in the future, and being a community organisation, you have a wealth of knowledge and experience with this! 


Ideas on how to recruit, care and plan ahead for volunteers

Now the fun part - practical ideas on volunteer recruitment and retention! The main thing to note is that volunteers are PEOPLE, which means they need your utmost care. Remembering the value they bring to your organisation will help give context to these ideas. In short, treat volunteers the way you would want to be treated!

Volunteer Recruitment

Organisational Level - It all starts with you and your organisation. If your vision, mission and lived out culture is strong, then people will gravitate towards your cause, no matter what crisis hits it. Try some of these actions to ensure your community organisation is solid at its core:

  • Take the opportunity to review your vision, mission and values as an organisation. Make sure you involve your current volunteers in this process too - they will have valuable ground-level knowledge!

  • Have your vision, mission and values written in succinct statements that are easy to remember. See if you can have your mission statement placed around your community space, or on email footers etc.

  • Are your values being lived out in the organisation, especially when it comes to volunteers? Do the paid staff know that your volunteers are seen as important to the overall vision of the organisation, and that they bring value? Ask your volunteers about their experience working with your organisation and how the culture can be improved.

Clarity on Roles - Review your volunteer roles and what your needs are regularly (especially when certain pandemics enter the picture…). Some jobs may have to be stopped for a bit, while others may need some tweaking. Clarity is king!

  • Review the volunteer roles you have and make sure the role descriptions are up to date. Make sure that the descriptions outline skills that are expected, what people can expect to do in their role and the level of decision making they have in the organisation.

  • Ensure that you have the right equipment for your volunteers to do their job well (and that includes remote work too!). Also think about the training that might be needed eg. if they need to use new tech platforms.

  • Explore funding opportunities so that your volunteers have adequate support and supervision. Without this, your volunteer efforts will be unsustainable.
Mission statement

Example of vision and values statement from St John Ambulance NZ  (

SEEK Volunteer

SEEK Volunteer, a recruiting website for volunteer roles (

New volunteers, new ways of recruiting - More young people are putting their hands up to volunteer, which means it's helpful to find new ways of recruiting this demographic:
  • Advertise roles online eg. via SEEK Volunteers, Do Good Jobs, Go Volunteer etc.

  • Lean on the need for tech and have volunteers roles that look after this side of your organisation eg. social media, making email newsletters, creating posters etc.

  • Offer roles that have up-skilling opportunities that could look great on a CV.

  • Communicate your mission and why it is important. These new potential volunteers are socially conscious and want to know they're making a difference. You get extra points for communicating this in modern ways such as video.

  • Even though we are in the age of social distancing, make sure your volunteer roles have opportunities to connect with staff and the people you serve. Nothing beats this connection, especially for young volunteers.

Care and Retention

Communication and Engagement

  • Include your volunteers in staff communications so that they are kept in the loop and feel part of the wider team.

  • Are your volunteers receiving enough information to do their jobs well? Ask them how you can improve this area.

  • Be clear about your volunteer's line of communication. Who do they report to, and who do they ask for help if they need it? Also, who do they call when they find challenges working from home, especially from tech?

Wellbeing of Volunteers

  • Encourage volunteers to look after their wellbeing and mental health. Regularly check up on your volunteers to see how they are doing. Have this as part of your organisational meetings.

  • Support volunteers if they need to take a break because of their struggles.

Free up your volunteers by implementing an online booking system! Learn how through our step-by-step guide!

Download the guide
online booking system




  • Keep up to date with the latest Information and safety measures from the government eg. Department/Ministry of Health. Share this promptly with volunteers and encourage them to keep up to date also.

  • Adhere to physical distancing and mask wearing at your workplace. Think about desk placement and the cleaning of shared equipment.

  • Use appropriate posters and signage to promote and remind people of safety measures at work. Point out the handwashing station etc.

  • Make sure unwell staff and volunteers go/stay home. If some of your volunteers are immuno-compromised or are vulnerable to COVID, ensure their safety by limiting their risk of being exposed eg. getting them to volunteer remotely or limiting travel etc.

  • Hold virtual meetings if possible. Support volunteers if they need to work from home; think about equipment and infrastructure they need, processes and guidance on how to do this safely.



  • If you need to put roles on hold, continue to communicate with these volunteers - see if they are keen to be kept in the loop about what's going on and/or when their role is expected to return.

  • Find ways to connect volunteers socially but safely (especially those who are not needed at this time). You could host online meetings, start a Facebook group or reach out on the phone!


  • If volunteers have little to do during COVID but are still wanting to get involved, have a look at some online training they can do eg. webinars, free courses or even a bit of reading (check out SpacetoCo's blog for heaps of stuff on building community!)

  • Ensure the community you are serving know the extent to which your volunteers are able to help them at this time eg. with reduced hours, capacities or remotely.

Future Planning

  • It may be a good idea to plan ahead and think of ways for people to volunteer in a COVID world. Would you need to ensure volunteer roles can also be enacted remotely?

  • It's also a chance to plan for ways that volunteers can recover long-term from the effects of COVID and events like it. Is it time to re-allocate funds towards more support for the well-being of your people?
Volunteer checklist

Too much to read? Have these ideas on recruiting and retaining volunteers handy with our Volunteer Checklist!

Download the checklist

Further Reading and Resources

Your volunteers are worth it!

These ideas are far from exhaustive. However, Australia and New Zealand have awesome volunteering bodies that have more information on how to recruit and care for volunteers, even during COVID. Check out these awesome resources:

Learn how to recruit, engage and retain committee members with our practical guide!

Download the guide
committee members


Our Parters in Community

This guide was produced from our work helping the below councils and community venue organisations to share their spaces. Thanks for Co-creating SpacetoCo with us and sharing your experiences.

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Discover how we partner with community venues to help matchmake communities to local facilities.

Our Why



We believe that there are plenty of spaces and it’s not always necessary to build more. By utilising existing assets more efficiently and by making it easier to book spaces online, we all play a part in a more sustainable future.

Local Economies

We believe in the importance of driving growth to local area economies. By providing a means for people to access local spaces, we hope to stimulate a buzz of activity within towns, precincts & localities . We believe that when local economies thrive, communities come to life.

Community Connection

We believe space activation plays an important role in community development and building connectedness between people.It is through this that we work towards building a supportive, inclusive and diverse society.