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Tips for retaining new volunteers from the Big Help Out

Headshot of Jade

3 May 2023

by Jade Staiano

Programme Manager at Media Trust.



We’ve put together some tips on how you can use digital marketing to turn first-time volunteers into long-term supporters.

To mark the King’s coronation on Monday 8 May, some of Britain’s biggest charities have come together to create the Big Help Out – a campaign to get more people volunteering by using the extra bank holiday to give back. Their long-term aim is to encourage those who don’t traditionally volunteer to give it a try. National media coverage of the day means you’ve got huge potential to make noise about your cause and encourage new people to get involved. We’ve put together some tips on how to nurture your new volunteers and turn them into loyal advocates and long-term partners of your charity.   

This is the second in a two-part series of resources designed to help you maximise support on (and beyond!) the Big Help Out. Our first resource focused on attracting new volunteers online. You can read it HERE. 

Say THANK YOU to all your volunteers 

We all love to be recognised for our hard work, so even before your volunteer event gets underway, start thinking about how you can say thank you to those who were involved. Post something on your social media channels shortly after the event, and consider sending a thank you email too. Make it even more impactful by sharing stories from the day, including positive feedback from those who benefited from the volunteering event, or what your volunteers achieved:  

“Thanks to you we collected 28 bags of rubbish from our local green space” 

“Together we prepped 56 food parcels for local families” 

Seeing the effect a small group of people can have on a local community will help encourage repeat volunteers, and might inspire some new ones too! LinkedIn is a great platform for recognising volunteers, as if you can tag your volunteers, their colleagues and employer can also congratulate them on their hard work. 

Wonderfully Made Woman Follow Today is Volunteer Recognition Day, and we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to Media Trust for connecting us with an incredible group of volunteers- Camille Oster, Olga Demidova, Laura Bedford, Merril Stevenson and Elle Chartres (née Crossman)🙌🌟 Their generosity and expertise have been instrumental in shaping our strategy plan at Wonderfully Made Woman. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to collaborate with such a talented and compassionate team. Your dedication to making a positive impact in the community is truly inspiring. Happy Volunteer Recognition Day! 🎉 #VolunteerRecognitionDay #MediaTrust #WonderfullyMadeWoman #EmpowerWomen #Grateful"

Build your email list 

Your email list is often your warmest audience, and by adding your new volunteers you can ensure future opportunities get in front of the right people. So don’t be shy in asking new volunteers to join your list. Create a QR code for your sign-up page. It can be shared digitally, or printed out and posted around your event.  

Set up a series of automatic emails that go out to new subscribers. Keep them short, and only include content that won’t become outdated. Over three to four emails you can introduce more about the work your charity does, the community that you serve, and the opportunities that are available. Include micro-volunteering options, as well as introducing longer-term opportunities that require more commitment. You never know who might be reading, or who is ready to get more involved.  

You can find out more with our email marketing cheat sheet 

Make it easy for volunteers to share what they’ve been doing 

Don’t be shy, ask your volunteers to share what they’ve been up to! Consider creating some simple but engaging graphics that they can share on their social media before and after the event. Include details of both the event and your charity. You could suggest they share in local Facebook groups, or on their LinkedIn profile. This is a great way to build awareness of your work and help your volunteers feel part of something bigger! You never know, your volunteers might bring along a friend the next time and so your pool of volunteers grows even bigger.  

And the other way around…look for User Generated Content (UGC) 

Volunteers might not need a prompt to share what they’re up to. Make sure you are checking for mentions of your charity or event hashtag on social media, so when a volunteer shares their own content, you can ask them if you can use it on your socials too. User-generated content is a great way to get behind-the-scenes video and images, and more candid shots of your volunteers at work. Just be sure to ask permission before you repurpose it.   

If you have a well-known local leader or celebrity joining you, make sure to encourage them to post their own content on the day too! They will likely have a large and engaged audience, some of whom might not be aware of your work. Their involvement can increase brand visibility, creditability and trustworthiness. 

Ask for feedback from your volunteers 

Listening to your audience is an important step that’s easily missed. Use a tools like Survey Monkey or Google Forms to create a simple feedback form to capture your volunteers’ thoughts and feelings about the whole experience. Not only will this make your volunteers feel valued, and help you improve your volunteer management, it will help you get to know your social media audiences better. Plus you could get some fantastic quotes and testimonials to use in future campaigns! 

Use the feedback to create a list of topics your volunteers mention, and then create content that’s useful and engaging around those topics. For example, if lots of people mention how easy the onboarding process is, or how convenient the location is, then you can highlight that in your comms, and it might help with recruiting more volunteers.  

Ask for feedback on the event, but also include questions like: 

  • Where did you hear about us? 
  • Why did you volunteer with us? 
  • Which social media platforms do you use the most? 
  • Do you volunteer for other charities or organisations? 
  • How did volunteering benefit you personally? 
  • What was the highlight for you? 
  • Can we follow up with you to create a case study? 

Paid spend – Retargeting campaign 

If you have budget, consider using it in a retargeting campaign through social media. Retargeting is a way of prompting those who have already visited a specific page on your site with reminders of your brand. That means, you could capture the attention of those who might have visited your volunteering sign up page but not signed up. Maybe they couldn’t do the date your volunteering event was on? A reminder of your upcoming events could prompt them into becoming a conversion!  

Meta platforms all offer retargeting options, just make sure you have your Meta pixel installed on your website. More information on this can be found here. LinkedIn also have options for retargeting and similarly, you’ll just need to install their LinkedIn Insight Tag, more info on this here 

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