If someone wants to be a volunteer, they have every right to apply. All potential volunteers should be dealt with promptly and a named contact must be available for anyone who wants to apply (in most cases this will be the VSM).
The more standardised and automatic processes are, the easier it will be to deal with them. For example you could:
- Place an application form online on the Trust website so that applicants can download the form directly
- Set up a generic email address (eg ‘[email protected]) for all application enquiries and task someone to respond to emails daily
- Manage expectations by clearly explaining the application process on the website or in literature (what is involved and how long it is likely to take) to avoid applicants losing interest because of perceived delays.
When dealing with a large number of requests from potential volunteers, application forms are usually the best way to manage the process. However, complex application forms have the potential to be off-putting for potential volunteers.
They can also present a barrier to many people, for example, people with English as a second language, learning difficulties, dyslexia, poor literacy skills, sight problems and so on. Application forms should therefore be as simple and easy to use as possible, asking only for information that is needed for the recruitment process.
An application form should not ask for unnecessary information such as race or religion. It might include the following:
- Personal details: name, address, postcode, telephone / mobile, date of birth, email address
- Previous experience: work / voluntary
- Skills, Qualifications or languages spoken
- Names of referees –x2 referees
- Why the applicant wishes to volunteer and what kind of voluntary work they are interested in
- Preferred location(if multiple sites/community)
- What their availability is (times / days)
- Drivers licence (if you recruit for driving roles)
- Emergency contact: name, phone number & relationship (this may be included on the application form or if you feel that that is too intrusive you may wish to only ask for this information once an applicant is about to start volunteering).
- Rehabilitation of Offenders declaration (the application form should include some sort of brief declaration but may also include your Trust’s full declaration document).
The application form might also include information on the Trust’s policies on:
- Rehabilitation of offenders
- Data Protection
- Equality and Diversity
A good starting point for putting together an application form is to use a copy of the Trust’s existing HR form and to adapt it for volunteers.