The volunteer journey: What is it? And why is it important?


Written by Katie Taaffe

The ‘volunteer journey’ has become more than just another sector buzzword. In fact, it’s is a phrase we’ve grown to love and has earned a well-deserved spot in change-making discussions amongst leaders in the voluntary sector. 

What is the volunteer journey? 

The volunteer journey typically represents the series of engagements between a volunteer and a charity or nonprofit from beginning to end. It looks at the process behind how an organisation might attract, recruit, engage, onboard, manage, communicate, and report on volunteer activity. 

Why is the volunteer journey important?  

A well-executed volunteer journey considers exactly what volunteers might need or want at various stages of their engagement with an organisation. A standout, positive experience can influence how satisfied or motivated a volunteer feels and how likely they are to volunteer again or recommend volunteering to a family member, friend or colleague.  

Taking the time to support volunteers through each stage of the journey with a well-defined process, (enabled with beautiful software) can significantly increase engagement and boost retention. For example, a consistent, easy to navigate experience that is aligned with your brand will promote confidence from the outset, whilst good communication and organisation can break down potential barriers.

Because the volunteer journey is a cycle of repeating events, defining precisely how to approach each action, and the ways to standardise, simplify or enhance these elements can have a profound impact on efficiencies within a volunteer team. Refining administration processes, for example, can improve or how many volunteers can be recruited or managed at any one-time, leaving scope for greater impact. 

How to improve the volunteer journey 

Using volunteer management software can be a powerful asset in improving the volunteer journey. Assemble supports volunteer teams with process-driven features that leverage technology and help organisations to work smarter. 

Here are just some of the ways Assemble’s volunteer management software supports the volunteer journey. 

1. Attract and grow volunteer teams 

The volunteer journey begins here. Attracting the right people and having a point of difference is what matters in this increasingly competitive space.  

Assemble slots in neatly behind your website to display the latest volunteer opportunities. Customise templates in your brand identity with all the relevant information and automatically generate a visually appealing opportunity advert that is ready to publish, with no need for coding or web developers. 

Go one step further by widening the reach and sharing opportunity adverts within the Assemble dashboard, on your ‘team pages’, or post straight to your social media channels via the social sharing buttons.  

2. Recruit and scale at pace 

Given that recruitment focuses largely on the volunteer, each interaction is broken down in Assemble and carefully considered to support volunteer mangers in collecting the information they need. Assemble stores and manages volunteer data in a safe, compliant way in line with GDPR. 

Admin-heavy processes, such as volunteer recruitment can also benefit from pre-defined, automated workflows. A customisable, step-by-step process can move volunteers along the recruitment cycle with minimal disruption, whilst keeping everyone updated. 

Replacing manual actions with customisable automation, including data gathering or strategically positioned communication saves times and keeps applicants moving forward with all the information they need. 

Applicants can check the status of their application themselves, along with being notified of critical actions, such as when to submit documents at an appropriate point. Automated reminders can save time in chasing responses, prompting volunteers to complete the process. 

3. Manage large volumes of data with ease 

Managing large groups of volunteers for one-off events or ongoing shifts patterns can be daunting and challenging. Using Assemble’s comprehensive volunteer management features, enables organisations to create and recruit for events or manage rotas with ease.  

Our intuitive rotas are easy to customise and populate, so anyone can manage them. What’s more, volunteers can self-assign shifts, pick up tasks or support events without the need of a manager.  

Volunteers can self-assign shifts, pick up tasks or support events themselves. Notifications and instant messages will support your efforts by keeping volunteers and the wider team in the loop. Ad-hoc tasks can be picked up via notifications or requests for more support on a shift and can be sent easily and responded to instantly. 

Assemble empowers volunteers to self-serve, with the ability to download information on events or tasks, risk assessments, onboarding information or any other important detail via a centrally located document hub, allowing access to the most up to date and relevant information. 

4. Report results for greater impact and inform decisions 

Measure the impact your volunteers are having with our powerful reporting dashboard.  

Record and demonstrate the value of volunteer contributions with useful metrics and rich reporting features, which can be shared with volunteers to highlight their successes and celebrate milestones.

Get in-depth, customisable data on anything from volunteer hours to reasons for leaving and continue to build a better volunteer experience based on these learnings. 

5. Increase retention and keep volunteers engaged 

Repeatedly recruiting and training is a much harder task than holding onto the great team you’ve built around you. So, strengthening existing relationships and meeting volunteer motivations should be a priority. 

Within Assemble volunteers can connect with one another, view the most recent volunteer opportunities, get notified of ways to up-skill or attend events, pick up tasks and get regular news on how their organising is performing. Further to this, volunteers can view their individual impact with a tally of how many hours have been contributed to date. 

For volunteers that work with a community, branch or specific post code, there is the ability to create a dedicated ‘team page’ – a microsite for smaller teams to keep connected and up to date on a local basis. 

Why is Assemble the leading volunteer management software? 

Assemble has worked in partnership with many organisations to revolutionise the way in which they approach volunteer management. As part of these digital transformation projects, Assemble’s intuitive software has improved efficiencies at every stage of the volunteer journey. 

We build meaningful and intuitive workflows into our features that reflect the wants and needs of volunteer teams and we continue to collaborate with our extensive customer base to drive impact, measure success and continually improve our offering. 

Learn more about the benefits of volunteer management software or see some of our success stories for an insight on exactly how customers like Barnardo’s, NHS and Save The Children UK work with Assemble.