Top Ten tips for… Managing Volunteers

Top Ten tips for…Managing Volunteers

Sandra Lyne Timbrell

by Sandra Lynes Timbrell, Head of Visitor Experience at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Date Published: 09 January 2018

Volunteering has recently seen a resurgence in popularity, whilst development of new technologies has created different ways of volunteering. As volunteering changes, so does the expectations of those giving up their time. So, how do you ensure you can get the best out of, and for your volunteers?

  1.  Think about why people volunteer. Understand your volunteers. What you can offer in return?         

  3.  Have a strong foundation to build your volunteering programme. Think carefully about why you are using volunteers, how will you support them?        


  4.  Plan your recruitment. Hold open days to encourage new groups to your site. This can be a daunting process for some volunteers, so try to make it easy.       


  5.  Recruit and select carefully. What will your volunteers be expected to do? Have a chat with prospective volunteers.   

  7.  Write a strong volunteer agreement and policy. Set out the culture of your organisation, even for those who have been volunteering for a while.        

  9.  Support and guide your volunteers. Agree a ‘settling in’ period for new volunteers. Establish a main point of contact. Plan in regular training.        

  11.  Know the legal stuff. It’s important to remember that volunteers aren’t employees. Managing volunteers is not the same as managing staff. Choose your language carefully.       


  12.  EvaluateAsk your volunteers if they have any feedback and ideas.        


  13.  Communicate and engage. Provide ‘thank you’ events, regular communication sessions and a go to place for important information. Show them that they’re appreciated.       

  15.  Talk to other volunteer managers. Join volunteering organisations such as NCVO; Volunteering England or look to V-Inspired for support.


Sandra is responsible for the operational strategy and delivery of all front facing activities at Shakespeare’s Globe. She manages a volunteer team which includes over 600 Steward Volunteers. 

Sandra delivers the UK Theatre Managing Volunteers course.

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