Common Mistakes Made by Charity Retail Stores when Recruiting Volunteers

Charity retail stores heavily rely on the generosity and dedication of volunteers to support their operations, here's what to avoid when recruiting them

Charity retail stores heavily rely on the generosity and dedication of volunteers to support their operations. These individuals willingly offer their time and skills contributing to the success of these organisations. 

In my role at Rosterfy, I’ve been fortunate enough to work closely with leaders in the Charity Retail sector and what I’ve found is that those organisations fully understand the importance of getting their recruitment strategy correct. 

I’ve listened to their feedback, advice and experience and we’re exploring these themes in this blog article so you can avoid common mistakes and future-proof your Charity Retail volunteer program.

Inadequate Volunteer Position Descriptions

One of the common mistakes made by charity retail stores is the lack of detailed and comprehensive volunteer position descriptions. Failing to outline the expectations responsibilities and requirements of volunteer roles can lead to confusion and dissatisfaction among volunteers. 

Stores must clearly define the duties time commitment and necessary skills for each volunteer position to ensure a good fit between the store's needs and the volunteer's abilities.

How to get it right

A term that often gets used in this particular sector is a ‘Digital Front Door’ for volunteers. It’s something that BHF understands very well. They have used Rosterfy to create an engaging portal displaying opportunities to volunteer at their store, the schedule they are needed and a clear outline of the role.

British Heart Foundation Volunteer Portal


Limited Promotion and Outreach

Another mistake is the limited promotion and outreach efforts made by charity retail stores. Many stores solely rely on word-of-mouth or limited advertising channels to find volunteers.

Engaging in effective marketing strategies such as using social media platforms local community events and volunteer recruitment fairs can significantly expand the reach and attract a diverse pool of potential volunteers.


Lack of Volunteer Training and Support

Charity retail stores often overlook the importance of providing proper training and ongoing support for volunteers. Failing to equip volunteers with the necessary skills and knowledge can lead to frustration and decreased engagement. 

Providing comprehensive training sessions mentoring programs and a supportive environment can help volunteers feel valued and engaged in their roles.

One of the biggest challenges we hear from our customers isn’t necessarily about setting up training programs. Plenty of organisations understand how they can set up training, the real challenge is having visibility of training progress for each volunteer and associating those training records to a volunteer’s profile. 

Many nonprofit organisations make the mistake of using multiple systems to manage their volunteer program.

They might have one system for managing their volunteer training and another for shift management. We've managed to eliminate the need for multiple systems by offering all the functionality you will need in your program into one platform. 

Where they is a need to keep a platform we've ensured that Rosterfy integrates with some of the more popular apps and platforms such as instagram, Salesforce, Give and Gain and many more.


Inflexible Scheduling Options

Charity retail stores often fail to consider the diverse commitments and availability of volunteers. By not providing flexible scheduling options, they inadvertently restrict the number of volunteers willing to participate.

By allowing volunteers to choose from various shifts or offering alternative arrangements such as remote volunteering stores can accommodate different schedules and attract a wider range of volunteers.

The post-covid volunteer appears to want flexibility in all aspects of their life and it’s that same need to be fluid with work and life commitments that has supported volunteering. Employers are being encouraged to offer a better work life balance and many people are using their new freedoms to offer their time to a cause they care about.

By showing the same flexibility, Charity Retail Organisations can recruit more volunteers by displaying a willingness to meet these expectations.


Volunteer Insights


Lack of Recognition and Appreciation

Charity retail stores should never underestimate the power of recognition and appreciation. Failure to acknowledge volunteers' contributions and express gratitude can result in demotivation and reduced commitment. 

Simple gestures like regular thank-you notes volunteer appreciation events or even small tokens of appreciation can go a long way in fostering a positive volunteer experience.

Many nonprofits are unaware of the total number of hours a volunteer may have contributed to a cause. The volunteer themselves will have a good idea on what that number would be and would equally expect the organisation they support to show appreciation.

Recognition is the key to retention. One of Rosterfy's most requested features is our reward and recognition tools. The ability to track a volunteers journey, the hours they've offered and the milestones they have reached helps you keep track of their efforts. 


Insufficient Communication Channels

Effective communication is crucial for the success of any volunteer program. Charity retail stores often make the mistake of not maintaining consistent and open lines of communication with their volunteers. 

Establishing regular check-ins utilising online platforms for updates and feedback and addressing any concerns promptly can help volunteers feel engaged valued and part of a supportive team.

The average volunteer manager spends around 6 hours a week managing applications and a further 6 hours a week managing communication. Shift reminders, new opportunity announcements and requests for screening or identification details are the most common activities and all of these could be automated with the right system in place.

Lifeline, a suicide prevention charity claim, Rosterfy has reduced its admin by 50%.

“After one week of using Rosterfy, our Recruitment Office can process 10-12 volunteer applications per hour, as opposed to 3-5 per hour through our previous system” says Voula Sofiou, Volunteer Delivery Lead, Lifeline.

By automating these tasks you can create templated, professional emails and notifications delivered at timely intervals throughout the journey of the volunteer.


How to improve your Charity Retail Store Volunteer Recruitment

Recruiting volunteers is crucial for the seamless functioning of charity retail stores. By avoiding common pitfalls such as vague position descriptions, limited promotional efforts, inadequate training and support, inflexible scheduling, lack of recognition, and poor communication channels, these stores can effectively attract and retain volunteers.

Implementing best practices and creating a positive volunteering experience will not only benefit the stores but also the volunteers, ultimately contributing to the greater success of their charitable endeavours.

I've observed a relentless dedication from charities to raising much needed funds, creating a fun and positive retail experience for shoppers looking to buy high quality goods and contribute towards a cause.

Efforts on creating a shopping environment that matches any high-street store charity or not are impressive, but work still needs to be done on creating an equally rewarding experience for the group of people making all of this possible, volunteers.


How to maximize the Value of Your Charity Retail Volunteer Program

The average hourly value of a volunteer in the charity retail sector is £25 in the UK or $31 in the US. That’s increased by 6% since 2022 with the growing popularity of charity retail stores and the value of goods.

If you know how much they are worth to your organisation then you’ll know you should be doing everything in your power to retain them and provide stakeholders with insights to ensure continued support.

British Heart Foundation, Oxfam and Crisis have all contributed to this White Paper we’ve put together aimed at helping you to have a better understanding of where the value in your volunteer program is coming from, what they did to improve recruitment and what they are currently doing to ensure they can future-proof their program.

You can download this white paper for free by clicking here.


Charity Retail


About Rosterfy

Rosterfy is used by non-profits, charities, sporting federations, and more to better manage their volunteer programs by improving how they can recruit, screen, train and retain volunteers.

Our market leading technology helps you create engaging experience throughout the whole lifecycle of your volunteer journey.

Book a demo today.

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