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Recruiting volunteers for community activities

Happy volunteers staffing a stall

Are you holding an event or activity that requires a few extra hands on deck? Recruiting volunteer help for your initiatives can be cost-effective and a good way to involve others from your community.

Happy volunteers staffing a stall

Practical tips and resources to help you recruit casual volunteers to help support any activities, events and projects that you may be running.

The best approach

Before you start recruiting a team of volunteers, you’ll need to have a good idea of how you would like to use them. Consider the following questions when planning.

Where and when will volunteers help?

  • Do you need help supporting annual community events? (e.g. race days, Schoolies celebrations, music festivals, etc.)
  • Do you need support at regular events? (e.g. regular youth activity, week-long event for Youth Week/NAIDOC Week, etc.)
  • Do you need volunteers for safety initiatives in public places on Friday/Saturday nights or on days such as New Year’s Eve or Australia Day (when consumption of alcohol and other drugs may increase).

How can volunteers help?

  • Staffing a ‘safe space’ area at events. These spaces are sometimes referred to as ‘chill out zones’ for people to take a break while partying. They also provide an opportunity to share harm reduction messaging.
  • Handing out support services information, safe partying information or necessities such as water and sunscreen.
  • Serving non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Administering first-aid (if they are qualified). This could help while emergency services are on their way, particularly in remote communities where response times might be longer due to distance.
  • Running a transport/shuttle service in areas where access is limited to late-night transportation.
  • Helping to set up or pack down equipment at events.

Recruiting volunteers

Before you embark on recruiting, training and managing your own volunteers, think about whether another organisation that has trained volunteers could help to support your activity.

Organisations that can provide volunteers

Police and Community Youth Clubs (PCYC) in each State:

You can also use resources from Volunteering Australia that can help you to screen and recruit volunteers.

When working with volunteers, please remember to:

  • appreciate that volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and have different skills and experiences
  • be clear on the roles and the responsibilities of your volunteers
  • consider the tools your volunteers will need
  • make your volunteers feel valued and recognised for their contribution to your activity or event.

If your volunteers have a good experience working with you, they may want to help support your projects in the future or to help spread awareness of your activities to recruit more volunteers. This will help to make sure your initiatives are always filled with people willing to help.

Training volunteers

Now that you have a group of volunteers, and you know what you need them to do, you’ll need to undertake a briefing or training session. These sessions will depend on the tasks required.

You could invite an external organisation who has experience in community volunteering to come and train people in your area.

Organisations who can train volunteers:

If you decide to train your own volunteers, rather than using volunteers supplied from another organisation, you can use the list of training resources below:

Think about recognising your volunteers over National Volunteer Week to help with retention and making them feel valued and engaged with your program.

Briefing volunteers

You’ve recruited and trained your volunteers. Now your event or activity is coming up, you’ll need to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Below are some suggestions of how you can brief your volunteers to make sure you achieve success.

  • Run sheet
    Pull together a run sheet of exactly how you’d like the day to go. Consider important details such as what time do your volunteers need to arrive, what’s the address and is there parking nearby? What is the volunteer responsible for doing when they arrive?
  • Pre- and post-activity briefing
    Considering having your volunteers arrive early to run through how you expect the day to go and offer an opportunity for volunteers to ask questions. A post-activity briefing is a great idea for volunteer retention. How did they feel the activities went? Would they be interested in returning? Is there feedback that could help you run the activity smoother next time. This will help your volunteers to feel valued and listened to.
  • Insurance
    Make sure that you’re prepared for the worst and that your volunteers know what the plan is. See Volunteering Australia’s page on Insurance for Volunteers

Using volunteering in COVID-19 environments

Volunteering Australia recommends adapting volunteering roles to minimise or remove face-to-face contact to reduce the risk of infection of COVID-19. Read the article to see how you can adapt your activities and keep your volunteers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking to become a volunteer?

Many Community Drug Action Teams (based in NSW) are looking for new members for ongoing volunteering opportunities. Community Drug Action Teams are committed to reducing alcohol and other drug harms in their community. You can find out more about joining a CDAT here.

For one-off and casual volunteering opportunities visit:

Happy volunteers staffing a stall