A peek behind the scenes with the RSPCA’s volunteering team



Customer since


Increase in volunteers


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The RSPCA is the oldest animal welfare charity in the UK. In 2024, they will celebrate their 200-year anniversary. Their mission is to ensure that animals are treated with kindness and compassion, that they advocate on behalf of animals and that animals are rescued and cared for when they need help. It's evident on arrival that that this ethos is embedded in the staff and volunteers at West Hatch.

Prior to Assemble, the RSPCA were missing a central view across their volunteering. In 2018, they embarked on a digital transformation that has taken them from pen and paper to delivering some hugely successful and innovative volunteer programmes, and have seen an enormous 224% increase in volunteers since we launched in 2018.

The RSPCA are now using Assemble as an extension of their team to support ongoing recruitment campaigns, operational volunteer activities and engagement. This has enabled Brian to focus on developing their volunteer offering by launching new initiatives that are unique to the RSPCA - and supported by volunteer data.


The value of volunteers at the RSPCA

“Volunteers are crucial to the RSPCA. In fact, we couldn't do what we do without them. We have around 7000 volunteers in our national society and around another 10,000 in our branch networks. Charity volunteers help us in many ways, but here at West Hatch, they might help with animal care duties, such as dog walking, cat socialising - and in our wildlife centres too. Alternatively, they may be supporting our Inspectorate, by collecting sick and injured wildlife, or transporting domestic animals for us too.

We work hard with our volunteers to ensure that they feel truly really integrated into the Society and with the help of Assemble, we can focus on providing the best possible experience from beginning to end with us.”

Growing and nurturing our volunteer community

“We’ve used Assemble since 2018, and we are continually refining our volunteer programmes including what our volunteer journey looks like. As volunteers’ needs change, we’re able to pivot and adapt our offerings to reflect this – and Assemble has helped us to respond quickly, whilst continuing to grow our volunteer community.

The volunteer journey for us begins with recruitment, which we do through our website. It’s here we are able to display all of our volunteer opportunities and you can apply for a role. Depending on the role, you may be asked for references, background checks or invited for an interview – and this is all automated through Assemble so it’s a compliant and consistent process, that’s easy to manage on a central or local level. After this, a volunteer might get a comprehensive induction and tailored training, specific to that role.

Once onboard we work hard to engage with our volunteers on a regular basis to ensure that they feel part of our organisation. We tell them about the work we are doing and the direct impact that volunteers are having on the wider society and how they are making a difference.”


Staying connected with communication and engagement tools

“One of our biggest challenges is how we communicate and reach such a large number of volunteers, but Assemble has really helped us to do this effectively. For example, we use the internal message center if we want to speak with volunteers directly, which is ideal as it securely stores the history of these 1-1 chats. We can also use the news channel, which brings volunteers into Assemble and is a place to catch up on what’s going on at the RSPCA. Or we can provide access to more topic-drive articles, research papers, videos and other materials out volunteers are interested in via the Document Hub, which really helps volunteers remain engaged with our organisation.”

Simplifying the volunteer journey with Assemble

“Assemble has had a huge impact on the RSPCA as an organisation and this is largely down to us making use of the full breadth of the software, but if I had to pick a must-have feature, I really couldn't do without the recruitment tools - they are worth their weight in gold! It just makes recruitment so much easier and with a standardised approach across the Society, our Volunteer Coordinators love it too. The simplicity of being able to generate opportunities independently, but with full access to our role profiles and the comfort that nothing will get missed throughout the application process, has been game changing.

We also really love the Task feature as this gives us the opportunity to ask volunteers to assist us in completing important operational activities. Assemble enables us to collect feedback associated with these tasks, which then helps us to develop the program further and provides really crucial information that helps us in all of our other activities.”

Leveraging 'Task’s’ to support specific volunteering activities

“Our volunteers contribute to the RSPCA in many different ways – some of them supporting our Inspectorate. When there is a sick or injured wildlife that needs collection, our National Control Centre uses Assemble to reach out to volunteers within a local area. They can immediately see who is available to help and then send those volunteers a task – that appears as a notification on their phone - with all the details, including what they need to do and where to go. Upon rescuing an animal, they will update Assemble to notify us that it has been completed, with information such as where they've taken the animal, along with task-relevant feedback.

We also use Tasks for our Micro-volunteering and Wildlife Friends programmes. These are a great way in which volunteers that have a finite amount of time can engage with the RSPCA, but still play a really important part in our volunteering. So, for example, volunteers can help us sign petitions, share things on social media or help with research tasks. Recently, for example, we asked our volunteers to help us collect information on local councilors, which saved our public affairs team about 10 weeks' worth of work. They managed to get that completed in just two weeks, so it's been great to use the power of volunteers to make a massive difference spending five- or ten-minutes volunteering. “

Leaning on volunteer data to support our volunteering

“We’ve had Assemble for five years now, which means we are in a really great position building out both our quantitative and qualitative data points. Having access to this information means that we can not only track and measure impact, but we can test things by gathering the mood and opinions of our volunteers. And furthermore, they are our voices within the community and so we rely on them to spread our messages, advocate for animals and alert the public to issues. These are all things we couldn’t do on this scale without their help.

From a strategic perspective, reporting on Assemble is great for understanding things like the diversity of our volunteers and this is helping us with our efforts to attract volunteers from all different parts of the community – as well as reasons volunteers leave us, which will always help us to build on our volunteer experience.”

The future of volunteering at the RSPCA

“We know in the voluntary sector that volunteers are looking for more flexible opportunities. They don't have as much time, but they still want to give – however, this needs to work around their commitments and circumstances. So it’s up to us to adapt our volunteering roles and attract volunteers to the RSPCA with flexible opportunities and we will inevitably use Assemble to help us manage and track the success of this.

We also want to continue to reach into our communities. We know we have a really comprehensive and compelling community offer, so we want to grow and embellish that and continue the important work around supporting our inspectorate.”


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