A volunteer has told me they want to stop volunteering. What should I do?

Volunteers do move on from time to time, for lots of different reasons. If a volunteer tells you they intend to stop the first thing to find out is why they aren’t planning to continue. Some common reasons might include:

  • The volunteer is moving away from the area
  • The volunteer has new commitments (job, family, study etc.) and the amount of free time They have is set to reduce
  • The volunteer is not enjoying their role
  • The volunteer is looking for training or experience that your volunteer opportunity isn’t providing.

If a volunteer has new commitments and has less time to give, then you could discuss ways in which they could continue but reduce the amount of time they give as a volunteer. This won’t be possible in every role, but some roles can be divided up between more volunteers, if you’re able to recruit extra help. Or there may be a different role that would interest them which involves giving less time. It may be that a volunteer will still say no if presented with these options, but it’s worth putting some thought into them and discussing them with your volunteer.

If a volunteer is not enjoying their role, this could be down to the role itself or the conditions in which they’re carrying it out. Again it’s important to talk this through with them in order to understand why. If it’s about the role itself then there could be other roles they’re better suited to - it might be good to sit down and talk through what their existing skills are and what skills they’re looking to develop through their volunteering. If it’s about the conditions then it might be there are ways you can support your volunteer better in their role. If someone loves event marshalling but is fed up of doing five-hour stints without a single chance to sit down, then this could be remedied by something as simple as a rota for breaks.

It might be that your volunteer is looking for training or development opportunities in their role. If that’s the case then it’s important to understand what they’re looking for so you can make an assessment of whether you can provide this.

When a volunteer leaves, it’s a good idea to get feedback on their experience with you to help you improve your volunteer management. You could interview them, or perhaps ask them to give you comments on a feedback form.

Volunteer Scotland has a good practice guide on challenging volunteer situations. 

See the following links for more information:

Sport England: What sorts of training can I offer volunteers?

Volunteer Scotland - Good practice guide