Growing Your Volunteer Pool: Engaging the Potentials

Learn how to recruit and engage a new group of prospective volunteers: The Potentials

Growing Your Volunteer Pool: Engaging the Potentials

In today’s volunteering landscape, organisations face the difficult challenge of increasing demand for volunteer services and declining volunteer participation. An interesting study by Lockstone-Binney et al. identifies a promising solution: tapping into "Potentials"—non-volunteers who are highly likely to start volunteering. This article explores the relevance of these findings, the characteristics of Potentials, and practical strategies to engage them.


The importance of volunteers cannot be overstated. They are the backbone of society and many organisations and individuals are strongly dependent on them. Yet, many volunteer-involving organisations struggle with recruitment. NCVO’s Time Well Spent 2023 report indicates a decline in regular volunteering rates from 23% in 2019/2022 to 16% in 2023. This trend is mirrored in other Western countries, making it crucial for organisations to find innovative ways to recruit and retain volunteers.

Understanding and engaging Potentials can help address this gap. By focusing on individuals who are predisposed to volunteer, organisations can efficiently allocate resources and efforts, ultimately enhancing volunteer participation rates and meeting community needs more effectively.

Who Are the Potentials?

Potentials are non-volunteers who possess the characteristics and motivation to become active volunteers. Recognising these individuals is the first step in engaging them effectively.

Characteristics of Potentials

Motivated by Personal Growth: Potentials are often driven by the desire for self-improvement and personal development. They seek opportunities to improve their self-esteem, learn new skills, and grow as individuals.

Involved in Other Organisations: These individuals are likely to be members of other groups or organisations, such as professional associations, sports clubs, or religious groups. Their involvement in these organisations indicates a propensity for community engagement.

Positive Attitudes Towards Volunteering: Potentials generally have favourable attitudes towards helping others and charitable organisations. They see volunteering as a valuable and rewarding activity.

Possess Relevant Skills: Many Potentials already have the skills and competencies required for volunteering. They might have experience in teaching, coaching, or providing practical advice and support.

How to Identify Potentials

Surveys and Polls: Conduct surveys or polls within your community to assess individuals’ interests and motivations. Look for responses that indicate a desire for personal growth, community involvement, and skill development.

Engagement in Other Activities: Identify people who are active in other organisations or community groups. Their existing engagement suggests they might be open to volunteering.

Direct Interactions: During interactions with community members, pay attention to those who express positive attitudes towards volunteering and a willingness to contribute their skills.

How to Engage the Potentials

Engaging Potentials requires targeted strategies that address their motivations and preferences. Here are practical tips and tricks to get started:

1. Identify Potentials

Tip: Use your volunteer database to find individuals already involved in community activities or other organisations.

Trick: Run surveys or polls to gauge interest and motivation levels in your community. Ask questions about their involvement in other groups, interest in personal growth, and willingness to volunteer.

Practical steps to take: Develop a community survey to assess the interests, motivations, and skills of your community members. Use the survey to identify Potentials and gather data on what types of opportunities would attract them to volunteer.

2. Personalise Your Outreach

Tip: Create messages that highlight personal growth and skill development benefits of volunteering. Emphasise how volunteering can provide learning opportunities, and foster personal growth. 

Trick: Use storytelling to show real-life examples of volunteers who have gained new skills and boosted their self-esteem. Create case studies or testimonials featuring volunteers who have benefited from their experiences.

Practical steps to take: Create marketing materials that emphasise personal growth, skill development, and the positive impact of volunteering. Use social media, newsletters, and community events to spread these messages.

3. Offer Flexible Opportunities

Tip: Create a variety of volunteer roles that fit different schedules, including short-term and remote options. Flexibility is key to accommodating potential volunteers' busy lives

Trick: Implement a flexible sign-up system where volunteers can indicate their availability and accommodate their preferences instead of focusing on your own first. Deedmob platforms allow volunteers to easily select opportunities that work for them.

Practical steps to take: Assess your current volunteer programmes and identify areas where you can introduce more flexibility. Consider offering remote or short-term volunteering opportunities that can fit into varied schedules.

4. Recognise and Develop Skills

Tip: Emphasise the skills volunteers can develop and offer training sessions to enhance these skills. Highlight the practical benefits of volunteering in terms of skill acquisition and personal development. 

Trick: Create a volunteer appreciation programme that regularly acknowledges and rewards skill development and contributions. Consider issuing certificates of achievement or providing opportunities for further training and development.

Practical steps to take: Establish a programme to recognise and reward volunteers regularly. This could include monthly or quarterly appreciation events, certificates, or public recognition on your website or social media channels. If you need inspiration, this article will provide you with 12 creative ways to appreciate your volunteers!


Engaging Potentials offers a promising solution to the challenge of declining volunteer participation. By understanding who these individuals are and implementing targeted strategies to engage them, volunteer-involving organisations can grow their volunteer pool and better meet community needs. Start by identifying Potentials in your community, personalise your outreach, offer flexible opportunities, and recognise the skills and contributions of your volunteers. Together, we can build stronger, more resilient communities.

Some highlights of 5 years at Deedmob

No items found.

Gerbrand Holland

Growth Manager

Gerbrand Holland is Growth Manager at Deedmob

Infographic download

Download the Infographic