Recruitment of volunteers

Recruitment of volunteers seems to be a major challenge for many organisations, but with systematic planning you have a good chance of finding the right helpers. The settlement involved can influence recruitment efficiency, but well-structured recruitment activities can produce results everywhere.

There are a few things to think about before you start recruiting. Here are some good tips: [1]

Start recruiting only when you are ready:


  • You have decided to start the programme.
  • You have decided the areas in which volunteers will be accepted.
  • You know when this activity starts.
  • You know how you will select and train volunteers.
  • Avoid the issue of the general “We need help!”-type call!
  • Plan the recruitment steps, opportunities, broken down into small campaigns in the following steps, in order:
  1. Determine the ideal candidate – in terms of education, skills, personality and availability.
    It is also worth defining the elements that may be negative, e.g. lack of language skills; or, in the case of information desk activities, an easily confused personality.
    It is important to be honest with yourselves at this step and not start bargaining our own expectations. You can do this even when there is hardly any suitable candidate. Think that we have to choose from a lot of people the most suitable ones.
  2. Let’s make the call! In this, try to describe the activity itself. Specify WHAT? WHERE? WHEN? it is required to be done (based on the previously prepared terms of reference), and the minimum requirements for the position shall be stated. List the skills that can be beneficial and give answers to the WHY is it worth? question too.
    If there is a factor that may be particularly problematic in finding the right candidate, definitely state this in the call. For example, if you expect attendance in a fixed-time course or if the activity is only open on Tuesdays from 10am to 2pm.
    It is important that you do not compromise on the ideal concept even here, but at the same time indicate that you can be flexible about an expectation.
  3. Think about where it is the most likely to find the right candidate.
    Instead of thinking about where to find people, try to identify where to find the right candidates!
    For example, if you are primarily looking for people who speak languages, have seen Egypt, or have a history, you may want to look for the right university faculty and make a call.
    Price is an important consideration when it comes to identifying an advertising channel, meaning that it be free. Fortunately, there are many opportunities for this today: nationwide volunteer search sites (, and, and many local opportunities. An interesting initiative can easily get press coverage.
    Let’s get creative! There are no rules. Use your insights and experiences. Take advantage of the channels that are available for the operation of our organisation, and reach out to our organisation’s target groups (the interest is already in line with our ideal candidate description and our organisation’s target audience): our clientele, newsletter subscribers, fans of our Facebook page, volunteers active with us.
  4. Match the recruitment method, call materials and the recruitment channel.
    If you want to appeal to university youth, use a proactive approach and highlight the benefits of engaging in activities that may be important to them.
    You can also think about how you would like to receive the applications: by letter, email, or web-based questionnaire, which immediately creates a summary spreadsheet (e.g. Google Forms solution). Keep in mind the efficient use of our own time!
    Use the organisation’s own website and announce volunteering opportunities in job ads!
    You can also find more information about the volunteer programme and volunteering, expectations and opportunities on the organisation’s website.
  5. Publish advertisements! Get ready for receiving inquiries and making interviews!
    Keep in mind: a positive perception of the institution may also depend on sending a short answer to each candidate. If you accept applications in an online questionnaire frame, you can also set up an automatic answer.

For easy usability, here is a brief checklist of what to include in a call. [2]

The call of the Museum of Fine Arts for its Hands On!! programme:

Name and activity of the organisation
Definition and brief description of volunteering
Is the activity independent or team-based?
Place and time of the volunteering
From when to what date do we look for a volunteer?
What are the conditions for performing the activity (language skills, computer skills, etc.)
What are the conditions for volunteering? (expect young or old, etc.)
Is there any training before starting volunteering, what are the costs?
What is the legal status of the organisation to host volunteers?
What benefits do volunteers receive?
What is needed to submit for application? (curriculum vitae, cover letter, photo, reference, in what language are the materials expected?)
To whom can I submit my application, what is his access, and where can I get more information?
Application deadline

A good schedule is also required for a successful recruitment plan. It is advisable to leave 2-3 weeks after the invitation to receive applications, and then another 1-2 weeks to filter the applications. So it is recommended to publish the call 4-5 weeks before the planned start of the activity, unless we insert a longer training period.

Ideally, there will be plenty of people to respond to this call because an attractive job and discount package was successfully compiled that will appeal to many. The truth is, however, that usually either too many, or too few respond to a call. Rarely do we get exactly the number of perfect candidates we want to receive.

In the case of too many applicants we are lucky because we can select (in this the next section will help). In this case, it may be difficult to process applications quickly and to reject ineligible applicants. In the case of too few candidates, more focused recruitment may be needed or you may have to look for another solution (students from the School Community Service, IKSZ interns, etc.). At worst, the activity will fail.



[1] Ellis, S.: 2 Basic Steps to Successful Volunteer Recruitment. (előadás). Önkéntesmenedzsment kihívások hosszú távon Konferencia, Recruitment workshop, 2016. szeptember 22. Budapest, Szépművészeti Múzeum – Magyar Nemzeti Galéria. 2016
[2] Csordás I.: Volunteer Management in Cultural Institutions – a Practical Handbook. 2012, Budapest, Múzeumok és Látogatók Alapítvány. 27-28 p.


This article based on the following document: This article based on the following document: Practical Guide for the Establishment and Operation of Volunteer Programmes at Institutions : abridged English version