How to Manage Volunteer Applications

Volunteer recruitment can be time consuming and when the pressure is on to make sure you have enough volunteers to support your cause or event there’s another factor you need to consider - how to manage volunteer applications?

While many volunteer programs prioritise recruiting more volunteers, a more impactful approach would involve focusing on refining the application process, enhancing the overall volunteer experience, and effectively converting applicants into active volunteers.

In order to optimise your program's effectiveness, it's essential to invest your time on individuals who are likely to volunteer and address recruitment hurdles by implementing proven strategies.

Follow this guide and draw inspiration from successful organisations that provide exceptional volunteer experiences.

The basics of volunteer application management

Managing volunteer applications effectively involves a few key basics that may differ depending on the roles your volunteers will carry out but broadly speaking a volunteer manager or programme coordinator will need to consider the following:

  1. Create an accessible location to view volunteer opportunities: This is often in the form of an online portal or a summary of opportunities on your website.

  2. A clear and easy to follow application process: Be clear on the duties and responsibilities of the volunteer position and use online forms to collect information.

  3. Leverage technology: Volunteer Management Software provides many of the tools you will need to create a better volunteer experience and store their information securely.

  4. Screening and Background Checks: Depending on the roles the volunteer will carry out a background check could be required. This is often the case for roles that involve interacting with children or vulnerable people.

  5. Interviews and Screening: Depending on the volume of people you are looking to support your cause or event and the role they will carry out it may be necessary to interview and screen candidates.

  6. Clear communication: This is essential if you want your volunteers to arrive at the right location, at the correct time and with any additional clothing or equipment they might need.

  7. Onboarding and Training: Offering an easy to follow and instructive training programme will help ensure you get the best out of every volunteer. Done correctly it can mitigate risk and help build advocacy for your cause or event.

  8. Data Management: During the volunteer application process you’ll be collecting data on each volunteer, it’s imperative that you use a system that collects and stores this information securely. Doing this will ensure you meet any compliance requirements your programme may have and makes it easier for auditors to track and report on.

  9. Feedback: No volunteer application process is complete without a 360 degree feedback loop. You can improve the effectiveness of your recruitment process by offering the opportunity to share feedback at intervals throughout the process.

  10. Reward and recognition: To ensure people remain engaged with your volunteer programme it’s important to show appreciation and recognition. By rewarding volunteers you can build advocacy and even encourage them to recommend volunteering with you to their friends and family. For ideas on how to reward volunteers click here.

By focusing on these basics, organisations can ensure a smooth, efficient and rewarding volunteer application process.

Ultimately leading to more people who start the volunteer application process actually going onto volunteer with your organisation, we call this process the Volunteer Application Funnel.


Confident female designer working on a digital tablet in red creative office space


What is the Volunteer Application Funnel?

The Volunteer Application Funnel is the process people go through from the moment they discover volunteering opportunities with your organisation to the point they become an active volunteer.

The effectiveness of your Volunteer Application Funnel is based on the conversion rate you have of applications and active volunteers. An organisation which has a good conversion rate will see more of their invested time and money pay off as more people go onto support their cause or event.

There are tools you can use to effectively manage volunteer applications and these will improve the effectiveness of your Volunteer Application Funnel, these include:

  • Online Portals for volunteer opportunities
  • Targeted volunteer recruitment marketing based on demographics
  • Personalised and Automated communication
  • Workflows and Reminders to support your programme coordinators
  • Reporting to highlight where in your application process you lose candidates

You can find out how to create a more effective Volunteer Application Funnel with this on-demand webinar you can watch at any time - click here to view

On Demand Webinar: How to create a more effective volunteer application funnel 

Learn how to increase your volunteer application conversion rate and turn more people from interested to involved.




The benefits of having a more effective volunteer application process

By introducing a streamlined and structured process to your volunteer application experience you can build a robust and sustainable volunteer program. You will be able to attract more dedicated individuals, encourage them to fully complete the application process and build a larger community.

Reduce the risks involved with the mishandling of personal information and remain fully compliant by using a volunteer management system like Rosterfy. This will mitigate the reputational harm caused by a leak or poor data management and it will ensure your programme meets whatever compliance standards have been set. 

Further Reading: White Paper A guide to Compliance and Data Security for Volunteer Programs

Volunteers aren’t simply unpaid workers. They are passionate supporters of your cause and make a huge difference. Support them by offering a more engaging and less stressful application process and your programme will thrive.


Create a modern destination for your volunteer opportunities

The modern day volunteer not only wants instant access to volunteer opportunities through easy to access, real time dashboards but expects it.

Charities, non profits and event teams are realising the competitiveness of recruiting volunteers and usually the best experience wins out in the end. Utilise volunteer management software that empowers you to create dynamic volunteer dashboards and interactive opportunity portals, allowing you to lead the pack in engaging and attracting volunteers.


Training - Volunteer Portal

London Youth Games for example display all of their volunteering opportunities and their festival events in a branded, engaging portal accessible via a 'Volunteer with us' link on their website.

Volunteers can seamlessly browse through the available opportunities and easily apply for them using the Rosterfy mobile app with just a simple click of a button.


Applicant screening solved

While some volunteer programs may only need minimal screening or background checks, this isn't always sufficient, particularly when volunteers are involved in activities that include working with children and vulnerable individuals.

The challenge: How to you manage screening and background for volunteer applications

The solution: A robust onboarding procedure

Managing the applications of volunteers where you need to screen the candidates, check credentials, complete training and run a background, Working with Children Check (WWCC) or DBS check is much easier when you can streamline and control the onboarding process.

The Literacy Pirates are a London based children's charity that aims to improve the reading and writing skills of kids that need support.

Their volunteer program encourages people to give their time to support in class activities, read with children and support their development. Obviously, running a program that works so closely to children has its challenges, particularly over background checks yet despite this they have increased their volunteer applicant conversion rate to over 30% with Rosterfy.

How did they manage this? Put simply they use Rosterfy to create an application process that guides would-be volunteers through a step by step experience that reminds them and the coordinating team of details they to supply, training they need to complete and induction videos they would like the candidate to watch.

Through their utilisation of Rosterfy, one crucial revelation they uncovered was pinpointing the stage in the application journey where potential volunteers dropped off. By strategically relocating key information typically saved for the end of the process - details on tasks, the children they would be assisting, and mission statements - to the forefront of the application, they witnessed a higher level of candidate engagement with the program.

This adjustment ultimately led to an uptick in conversion rates, showcasing the power of tailored and engaging content in the volunteer application process.

LP Volunteers


Increasing the conversion rate from applications to active participation in volunteer programs is a multifaceted challenge. By leveraging the capabilities of Rosterfy, organisations can streamline the application process, personalise volunteer engagement, and effectively manage communication and training.

Additionally, addressing the challenges posed by background checks with clear communication, efficient processes, and robust support can help maintain volunteer interest and trust. Through these strategies, volunteer programs can enhance their conversion rates, ensuring a robust and active volunteer base dedicated to making a positive impact.


About Rosterfy

Rosterfy is used by nonprofits, charities, sporting federations, local governments, 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 an engaging experience throughout the whole lifecycle of your volunteer journey.

Book a call today.

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