Welcoming new volunteers
Give new volunteers a warm welcome from first meeting to confirming their role
Giving new volunteers a warm welcome makes all the difference.
I have a new volunteer!
Congratulations! Bringing on new volunteers is a great opportunity to grow your team or give your young members new experiences.
We know that first impressions matter. Here’s some guidance on how to welcome new volunteers after you’ve invited them to come and visit.
Welcoming volunteers in 4 simple steps
- Once you’ve been put in contact with a potential new volunteer for your unit, invite them to one of your unit meetings to see whether you’re a good fit for each other.
- The first meeting is a chance to show off all that’s great about guiding! We’ve put together guidance on giving volunteers a great first meeting below. It’s important to make sure they’re supervised until they’ve completed their disclosure checks, references and a safe space training.
- Make sure you’ve checked with the volunteer whether there are any adjustments you can make to ensure they can do this role. Read our guidance on making adjustments, and consider making an adjustment plan if necessary.
- After the new volunteer has visited up to 4 times, follow up to find out whether they’d like to continue volunteering at your unit. If so, it’s time for them to do their disclosure checks. If they’re not sure this is the right opportunity for them, you can connect them with your commissioner.
As a commissioner or local recruiter, you have an important role to play in welcoming new volunteers. It’s important that new volunteers meet with someone from the division team within their first term. This should be an informal, open conversation, where the new volunteer knows that other volunteers are there to support them. Here’s some guidance on managing this conversation:
- Give the new volunteer an opportunity to raise any questions or issues they may have come across in their first few weeks of volunteering.
- Confirm whether this is the opportunity that’s right for them, if they’d like to explore other opportunities, or if they could do this opportunity in a different, more flexible way.
- Explain a bit about the structure of guiding and who’s there to support them.
- Signpost to other opportunities in Girlguiding they could also get involved in if they’re interested.
Email templates for responding to new enquiries
Below are some email templates that you can copy and paste when responding to a new volunteer enquiry. Edit them with relevant details that might be useful for a volunteer looking to join your area.
Subject: Volunteering with Girlguiding
Hi [enquirer name],
I’m delighted to welcome you to Girlguiding – we're a community of 70,000 volunteers who help make a difference to girls’ lives. Thank you so much for signing up to volunteer with us and help all girls know they can do anything. I'm [your name], and I volunteer as [your Girlguiding role] here at [area name]. I’m here to help new volunteers like you find the right volunteer team, right here in your local area.
Based on the information you registered with I understand you want to volunteer near [area name]. Do you have a specific age group in mind?
In [area name], we have a great mix of units, each tailored to different age groups. They usually meet on weekday evenings, and here's a quick overview:
[Insert information about the units in your local area – section, age group, when and where they meet.]
We’re also always looking for help running things behind the scenes. All our units are entirely volunteer run so there are lots of ways to help. We really appreciate any support you can give.
Please let me know by replying to this email where you’re interested in volunteering and I’ll put you in touch with your local unit leader to arrange a visit to a unit meeting. Or if you prefer, we can have a call to talk through how you’d like to get involved.
Thanks again for reaching out and looking forward to chatting more.
[Your Girlguiding role]
Subject: Are you still interested in volunteering with Girlguiding?
Hi [enquirer name],
Thanks for your interest in volunteering with us. Without our amazing volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do for girls across the UK.
I sent you an introductory email, and I just wanted to confirm you received it. Life can get busy, and I understand emails can sometimes slip through the cracks.
Could you let me know if you're still interested in volunteering with Girlguiding or if your circumstances have changed? Your reply will help me better support your journey with us.
If you haven't had a chance to get back to me yet, there's no need to worry. I’m here when you're ready! And if you've decided not to pursue volunteering with us at this time, please let me know.
Please keep in mind that if I don't hear back from you, I may need to remove your enquiry from our system. However, if you ever decide to explore volunteering with Girlguiding in the future, I'd be delighted to welcome you onboard.
Thank you once again for your interest, [enquirer name]. We truly appreciate it. Feel free to respond to this email or give me a call at [phone number], and I'll be here to support you with any questions or next steps.
[Your Girlguiding role]
Subject: An update on your volunteer enquiry
Dear [enquirer name],
You recently enquired about volunteering with us. I sent you an introductory email, but I don’t seem to have had a response. As I haven’t heard back from you, I’ll have to delete your enquiry from our system so I can keep our enquiries list up to date.
If you’d like to enquire about volunteering again in the future, we’d love to hear from you again.
[Your Girlguiding role]
Subject: Welcome to [unit name], [enquirer name]!
Hi [enquirer name],
I’m [your name], and I’m part of the team who run [unit name]. Thanks so much for your interest in helping out! We’re looking forward to welcoming you onboard.
Our unit meets on [day] in [location]. [Any relevant info to help them find location]. The meeting starts at [time], so if you get here 15 minutes earlier we can have a quick chat before the girls arrive.
We’ll be doing [insert short description of meeting activity e.g making smores or making bug masks] this week . [Insert any relevant info to help – eg. bring outdoor shoes or clothes for getting messy]. There’s no need to prepare anything – this is just so you can get a feel for whether our unit is the right fit for you.
Please get in touch with me here or on [phone number] if you have any questions. And if there are any adjustments I can make, please let me know.
Looking forward to meeting you soon, and thanks again!
Welcoming new volunteers to their first unit meeting
For most volunteers, coming along to a unit meeting will be the best first step to getting involved.
- Get in touch with the new volunteer in advance to arrange the date they’ll visit the unit.
- Check with the volunteer whether there are any adjustments you can make so that they can take part in the session. You can read our guidance on making adjustments for support.
- Remind them on the day, or the day before the meeting (including the date, time and location in your reminder).
- Suggest meeting for a quick chat before the young members arrive.
- Share the meeting plan, and any particular things they’ll need (such as outdoor shoes or clothes for getting messy).
- Check in on them during the meeting and encourage them to take part in the activities. Most people won’t be confident running an activity straight away and will be better off working with a small group.
- Agree with them how they’ll be introduced to the unit: will you introduce them, or do they want to introduce themselves? It’s okay to ask someone how to pronounce their name or what pronouns they use.
- Make sure they’re supervised whilst visiting – this means not leaving the new volunteer alone with young members until they’ve completed a safe space training, disclosure checks and references.
- When the young members have left, have a quick chat with the new volunteer to see how they found the meeting.
- Within the next few days, follow up with a message to find out how the meeting was for them.
- Ask the volunteer whether they’d like to continue at your unit or explore other opportunities. They don’t need to make this decision right away – they can keep visiting the unit up to 4 times before doing a disclosure check.
- Let your commissioner or local recruiter know how the first meeting has gone.
After 4 visits to the unit meeting, new volunteers will be expected to complete the safeguarding training required for their role and their recruitment checks. We understand our volunteers are extremely busy – so new volunteers will have up to 120 days after they’ve confirmed their role to complete their training and recruitment checks. Until this time, the new volunteer must be supervised around young members. Check out our visitor guidance if there’s anything you’re unsure about.
If you have any concerns about the behaviour of a new volunteer, please talk to your local commissioner or the Girlguiding safeguarding team.
If a new volunteer is under 18, they don’t need to do a disclosure check or have references. Instead, their role will become active as soon as they’re added to your unit.
Remember that volunteers under 18 shouldn’t be left unsupervised at any time.
Check our guidance on supporting young volunteers.
We’ve created a young volunteer welcome leaflet to help guide young volunteers through their first term.
There are 2 versions of the resource depending on their role:
Young external volunteer - for those volunteering with Girlguiding as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or other award scheme.
Young leader - for those volunteering in a unit as a member of Girlguiding.
The leaflet can be downloaded and completed online or printed off. It’s designed to give new young volunteers an introduction to their role and help them develop key skills and build confidence.
At the end of their first term, have a chat with the young volunteer about how their volunteering has gone.
This welcome leaflet is the first part of our new young leader offer. If you have any questions or feedback about how it works, you can email the young leader team at [email protected].
Including everyone in guiding
We want Girlguiding to be a place where everyone feels included. You can find guidance on our including all pages or take our including all training. Our volunteer support team are also at hand to help with any specific questions you might have.
Using clear and easy to understand language is good practice for everyone. It’s especially important when welcoming volunteers with specific communication needs.
Welcoming volunteers to their role
Has a new volunteer confirmed they’d like to stay on at your unit? Great news! First, you’ll need to change their status on GO so they can move on to the next steps. Check out the GO help files for guidance.
Remember, it may take a while for new volunteers to get to grips with guiding. So it’s best to continue to offer them your support over the next few terms. You could do this by:
- Signposting them to training opportunities via the learning platform.
- Remind them that all opportunities are designed to be done flexibly, and that responsibilities and tasks can be shared.
- Introducing them to other members of the unit, district or division teams.
- Introducing them to parents or carers.
- Sharing information about local events and district or division meetings.
- Talking to them about whether they’d like to do the leadership development programme once they’ve settled into their role.
This guidance refers to welcoming new volunteers to your unit. But if you’re welcoming someone to a non-unit role, please follow this guidance where applicable. For more specifics, see our recruitment and vetting policy and procedure.