Diabetes UK + Assemble: Improving volunteer engagement



Customer Since




Favourite feature



Volunteers are at the heart of Diabetes UK - the UK’s largest Diabetes Charity - and the many support services they offer. There are currently almost 2000 volunteers across 100 roles that reach into local communities, towns and cities in a way that wouldn’t be possible without them. 

We spoke to Andy Broomhead, Head of Volunteering. As a former volunteer and person with diabetes, Andy is fully committed to the organisation’s volunteer programme and ensuring it continues to positively impact the charity’s mission to help build a world where diabetes can do no harm. 

Andy has worked at Diabetes UK for over 6 years and is the strategic lead on all things volunteering and community engagement, providing support, process and leadership to teams across the UK. He was instrumental in the procurement and implementation of Assemble in 2020, a volunteer management solution, that would digitally transform how Diabetes UK recruits, engages and reports the impact of volunteer activities. 

Improving process

Diabetes UK had previously been using a CRM to store and manage volunteer data. With very limited functionality, this provided huge constraints in terms of supporting the full volunteer journey. This left inconsistencies around best practice and process, while important data was often siloed. 

This also meant that many of the additional administrative tasks carried out by volunteer teams at Diabetes UK were largely paper based, using spreadsheets and various methods of largely one-way communication to coordinate events or share information.  

There was a clear potential to grow volunteer numbers and improve retention, but the processes around volunteer recruitment, onboarding and engagement needed adapting to ensure the equivalent experiences and opportunities were offered across the board. 

“We knew volunteers were getting wildly different experiences depending on which part of the country they were applying from”.

Finally, the metrics used to record volunteer impact and the success of volunteer programmes depended on outdated methods which were not always as accurate or as reliable as they could be.

Top feature

It is never easy to get customers to commit to a ‘favourite feature’ - and with Andy this was no different. Whilst Assemble clearly provides a huge amount of support in coordinating the administration linked with the volunteer journey, it's clear to see that volunteer experience is front and centre at Diabetes UK.

“One of the things that's made a real big difference to us is our news feature, highlighting things that are important. Giving volunteers a place where they seek out different opportunities, different ways to get involved, share their experience of living with diabetes. People have been really responsive to that. Assemble has really opened a lot of doors for us in terms of thinking about how we bring more people into the charity. We wouldn't have had the coordination or the ability to do that two years ago.”

Choosing a volunteer management solution

Once Diabetes UK were committed to investing in a volunteer management solution, they assessed the market against their needs and invited Assemble to tender. The ‘must-haves’ included a central system that was not only capable of managing everything from recruitment to communications and analytics, but that was secure and compliant with GDPR.

It was evident from the beginning that many of Assemble’s features and functionality would support Diabetes UK in a way that would immediately streamline operations for the central team, support regional volunteer teams, as well as improve how the organisation engaged with volunteers.

“One of our key commitments as a charity is tackling inequality around health, and diabetes outcomes, so being able to see that the things that we are doing are having a positive impact has been hugely important for us.”


The customer success team at Assemble worked closely with Diabetes UK to fully understand the best way forward for implementation. When outlining their plan, it was agreed that a staggered approach would allow for a steady, measured transition that would later pave the way for a smooth national roll-out.

“The customer success team are infinitely patient with me, which is something I'm very thankful for on a daily basis. Being able to help us problem solve or come up with new ways of doing things, it feels like such a positive relationship the whole time.”

Jess Jardine, Assemble Customer Success Manager adds, “working with Diabetes UK for their implementation and beyond has been a pleasure. Whilst we are here to support and advise our customers, it was Andy and his team that committed to the necessary work during the implementation phase . It's clear to see how this early investment has really paid off in both the adoption of Assemble by their volunteers and their continued success in making full use of the software. I look forward to following their progress.”

Empowering volunteers

Diabetes UK now uses Assemble for all things volunteering, from advertising new volunteer opportunities on the website, to recruitment, onboarding, communications and reporting,

“What we've got now is a central set of data that is helping us better understand the things we want to know.”

Time consuming tasks have been made quicker and simpler with Assemble’s workflows and automations which can be customised to support the organisation.

“Having one very streamlined application process has made our lives a lot easier for volunteers. It’s really clear what we're asking you for, when we're asking you for it, and why.

Not only are we able to recruit more volunteers for things that we've done historically, but we're also now able to open up volunteer opportunities to new parts of the charity and to bring new people into the organisation.”

Aside from having a hugely positive impact on the application and recruitment phase of the volunteer journey, Assemble provides a home for volunteers to visit if they need to complete training, get access to documents and explore what's happening amongst the Diabetes UK community.

“Assemble has made a lot of our admin easier. When someone needs something as simple as a letterhead, for example, you know exactly where to go without having to ask or wait on an email from staff.”


Want to find out more about Assemble?