We have a guest author on the blog this week, Ann Hall, who is Head of Volunteering at Humankind. Ann and I connected on social media earlier this year in a brief discussion about putting people before processes in volunteer engagement. I immediately asked Ann to write for the blog and, thankfully, she said yes, so read on to learn from her approach.

We’ve always sent our volunteers an exit questionnaire when they leave, we all do it. We then learn from this when reviewing our volunteering offer for others. That’s great for new volunteers who join after the leaver has left, but it doesn’t help the ones that have already walked out of the door.

At Humankind, we decided we wanted to do something about that. So, we created a New Starter Questionnaire for volunteers to complete when they join us. The form is sent to volunteers during their first week with us, along with a ‘Welcome to Humankind’ card. It is designed to help us find out how people found out about us (so we know which of our marketing techniques are working), why they came to us specifically and what they want to get out of volunteering (we then compare this with the leaver data to establish if people’s end goal was met).

We ask:

  • How did you find out about us?
  • What attracted you to us?
  • What do you hope to gain by volunteering with us?

“Don’t you ask that at interviews?” I hear you say.

Yes, we do. But the interviewer doesn’t necessarily share that information with any-one else, why would they? The interviewer is generally going to be that volunteer’s supervisor if they join us, so they don’t share responses to interview questions any further.

Most volunteers say they come to us because they, or someone they know, has had previous contact with our organisation. That means we must have a good reputation, so we are off to a great start.

We’ve found out through the questionnaire that volunteers choose us, over other organisations because they like what we are about. They can connect with what we are trying to achieve, and they want to be a part of that and help others. One volunteer said they were attracted to our, “Actions towards social inclusion and helping individuals and families see better opportunities for themselves”.

We also get a straight to the point answer to what they ultimately would like to gain. The majority say employment, but also to “just help”, to “do something worthwhile” and to “feel valued”.

Here we have a theme, a trend, people see volunteering as a route to employment. So, we nurture that, and we build foundations to support volunteers to achieve that goal, and our efforts are working.

Since April 1st 2022, 43% of volunteers that have left, have done so due to gaining employment, and 76% of those people gained employment with Humankind.

Knowing people’s end goal at the beginning, and not waiting until they’ve left to find out their end goal wasn’t met, works well for us and our volunteers.

We can then work together and have open and honest conversations from day one.

You can find out more about HumanKind on their website, where you will also find details of how you can work for them.

Ann Hall is the Head of Volunteering at Humankind. Ann went to Leeds Metropolitan University aged 18 to study Law. During her first year, she started temping as an Administrator in a Needle Exchange. This job changed Ann’s career path, and she now has twenty years’ experience of working in the Charity Sector in both front line and management roles. In 2009, Ann joined Humankind and has been working on their Volunteer Programme for the past ten years. The Volunteer Programme has held Investing in Volunteers since 2015 along with five Volunteer Quality Marks.

Find out more about Rob and Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd on the website.

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