Volunteer Management: the Challenges of Recruitment and Retention - Oho

Volunteer Management: the Challenges of Recruitment and Retention

April 2024
3 minutes



Volunteers play a crucial role in the operation of many organisations and programs across Australia.

It is estimated over 5 million Australians volunteer through an organisation each year. Almost one quarter (24.8%) of the population 15 and over volunteer in organisations such as sports clubs, youth camps, childcare centres, community clubs, recreation centres, libraries and more.

Millions of passionate people that put their hand up to help the community achieve collective goals.

By volunteering, these individuals help organisations minimise costs, allowing them to allocate funds more effectively toward fulfilling their core missions and purposes.

However, despite the immense value they bring, volunteer recruitment and retention remain significant challenges for many organisations. In 2023, volunteer recruitment emerged as the top challenge according to volunteer managers (Volunteering Australia).

Understanding the volunteer lifecycle is key to addressing these challenges effectively. This lifecycle comprises five critical stages: attraction, recruitment, engagement/retention, recognition, and retirement. Each stage presents unique opportunities and challenges, requiring tailored strategies to optimize volunteer engagement and retention rates.

So, how do organisations boost engagement, and therefore retention?

To enhance volunteer retention, organizations can implement the following strategies:

  1. Implement a volunteer software system: streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance communication with a volunteer management software
  2. Create clear communication channels: maintain consistent and transparent communication all from the same source, so your volunteers know where to expect information
  3. Create a feedback loop: listen to your volunteers and create a space for feedback, as they, as they may have some incredible insights that could help your organisation better deliver its services and potentially improve your volunteer experience
  4. Show appreciation and recognition: demonstrate your appreciation and provide recognition for your volunteers to make sure they know they are valued for donating their time and energy
  5. Provide ongoing support and resources: offer support channels and resources to empower your volunteers and ensure they feel supported throughout their volunteer experience

The lifecycle of a volunteer includes retirement as stage 5, where they cease to engage with the program any longer. However, this stage actually sparks the beginning of a new cycle, starting with attraction and recruitment.

From 2018 to 2021, the global volunteering workforce lost 44 percent of volunteers (volunteering Australia).

With such high turnover of volunteers, the volunteer lifecycle inherently creates significant administrative work for organisations and mangers. Technology, systems and software can play an important role in easing the administrative burden that volunteer managers have to deal with.

Software systems are constantly evolving and have become more crucial to the recruitment, engagement and retention of volunteers. A volunteer management tool can help save time, reduce manual effort, provide data insights and help build your volunteer relationships.

These systems can also assist organisations to adhere to their legal requirements and best practices to uphold organisational integrity.

Volunteer organisations have crucial compliance obligations to ensure they can pursue their purpose, while also creating safe environments for their communities.

Volunteering Australia’s National Standards for Volunteer Involvement, refreshed in 2023, have some clear standards for the recruitment process.

  • Organisations and groups engage volunteers using planned and innovative approaches to attract people with relevant interests, knowledge and skills.
  • Potential volunteers are provided with information about the organisation, how volunteers contribute to its purpose and vision, available opportunities and the selection process.
  • Volunteers are selected based on their interests, knowledge, skills and suitability for the role, and consistent with anti-discrimination law.
  • Diversity, inclusivity and accessibility principles are built into recruitment activities, reflecting and promoting awareness of, and respect for, diversity and inclusion and the inherent value this brings to the organisation.
  • Screening processes maintain the safety and security of service recipients, employees, volunteers, and the organisation, in line with legal requirements and regulations.

Screening processes are paramount to safety and compliance within a volunteer organisation. With hundreds of volunteers, managers don’t want to include them in the HRIS as it gets expensive.

Screening upon recruitment and maintaining ongoing screening is resource-intensive and therefore needs new innovative solutions to reduce the administrative workload.

What if the screening processes could be streamlined?

Meet Oho.  Used by many organisations with large volunteer networks.

Oho is a software tool that provides both recruitment screening and ongoing screening of a wide range of credentials relevant to care and community organisations. Oho provides national coverage of working with children checks, Teacher Licences, National Disability Worker Cards, AHPRA (health and allied health), Visa Entitlement registrations (VEVO) and other background checks.

Oho protects over 2.9 million Australians and has completed more than 5 million verifications. Oho has detected more than 100 revoked accreditations since inception and assisted with rectifying thousands of compliance irregularities.  Oho has also saved care and community organisations thousands of hours of manual labour and cost.


Find out how Oho can support your volunteer organisation today. Book a free demo or have a chat to our lovely team.



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