Recruiting volunteers from diverse backgrounds

It goes without saying that opening up your organisation to volunteers from diverse backgrounds is a fairer and more inclusive way to engage the community or the sector you operate in.

Any volunteer will have strengths that may suit your organisation. These strengths can vary widely, and may include being tech-savvy, an ability to speak and write a different language, physical strength, vast experience in different workplace situations, knowledge of particular laws, rules and regulations, an acute understanding of specific groups in the community and much more.

Know what your organisation needs

We know that there are many benefits to encouraging volunteers from diverse backgrounds to join your organisation. But before you start trying to recruit volunteers from diverse backgrounds, you should think about:

  • What activities your organisation needs to carry out and what skills are required for these?
  • What support your organisation can realistically provide to volunteers so they feel included and useful?

There are many skilled migrants who may be having trouble finding paid employment because they don't have much or any local work experience. Volunteering can be a means by which this group can gain experience – so it's worth thinking about developing short term, capacity building roles for skilled volunteers.

Explore different recruitment methods

Along with advertising your opportunities in online matching services, consider alternative recruiting avenues that you may not have previously used before.

If you have existing volunteers from diverse backgrounds in your organisation, ask them to help you with a recruitment strategy that is suitable for you.


Partnering with other community groups to advertise your opportunities opens up doors in your local community that you may not reach through traditional matching services. Consider talking to youth groups, disability support organisations and, of course, your local volunteer resource centre.

Your local Migrant Resource Centre, Migrant Information Centre or AMES employment office will have a wealth of knowledge about the CALD communities in your area. They can provide you with advice on how to make contact with specific cultural groups. Take advantage of ethnic newsletters, newspapers and community radio, and ask community leaders to promote volunteer opportunities and the benefits volunteers receive.

Local disability support organisations or day centres may be able to help you reach other volunteers who fit your organisation's needs. The Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS) works with young people who experience disability and may be able to recommend a volunteer to suit your needs.

Many young people become involved in volunteering because they know somebody already involved. Your volunteers will also know where the best places to advertise new positions are and how to design the role to appeal to their friends. You could even ask existing volunteers from diverse backgrounds to act as 'champions' for volunteering in their respective communities.

Community information sessions

Getting out in the community is another way to raise your profile and promote volunteer opportunities with your organisation. This could be by:

  • Conducting face-to-face presentations to specific groups
  • Hosting information evenings where you invite people from diverse backgrounds
  • Arranging times to visit English classes and promote your opportunities to CALD audiences.

If you have run a successful recruitment campaign for diverse volunteers, or have a great idea, contact us and we can add it to the toolkit.

Adjust the recruitment process

In general, providing potential volunteers with a clear and concise explanation of the role requirements and paperwork processes is a good rule of thumb, but is especially important for people who are new to volunteering or have low English proficiency.

Streamlining your recruitment process can also make it easier for volunteers from diverse backgrounds to get involved. Consider reducing the amount of forms and paperwork where appropriate, or include this in the interview process where you can assist the volunteer to fill them out.

Assure volunteers that all information is kept confidential and will only be used for the application process and for insurance.

Tools and resources