Case Studies

 One of the best examples of how to recruit and retain volunteers has to be The Egypt Centre in Swansea. We asked Syd Howells, the Volunteer Manager to give us a few top tops.

How do you recruit volunteers?

"Besides our own advertisements for volunteers on our website ( and occasional adverts in the local press we also work closely with the Swansea Council for Voluntary Services, a partnership which we particularly value. We also have close links with organisations such as Job Centre Plus, Autistic Spectrum Disorder Employment Support etc.

We are fortunate to be based on a university campus and to have a close relationship with the Egyptology Department. This ensures a steady stream of students applying to volunteer with us, a the very least during term time. We also have young people (aged 10 - 18yrs) volunteering with us, several of whom have progressed to volunteering with is following a work placement at the Egypt Centre arranged by their school."

How do you retain volunteers?

"We strive to be inclusive and recognise the importance of a positive and respectful atmosphere. If volunteering is an enjoyable experience, then as long as an individual volunteers life path doesn't lead them elsewhere they have a tendancy to stay with us. We have a number of volunteers who have been with us for over 10yrs and their experience in asssisting newer volunteers is invaluable.

Valuing the opinion of the volunteers is an important aspect. Recently, we have been involved in revising several of our educational activities at the museum, a process to which those volunteers who deliver the activities have contributed greatly.

Another important aspect is our training programme. Our volunteers recognise that volunteering with us in conjunction with the training they receive while at the Egypt Centre can improve their employment prospects.

Free tea, coffee and biscuits should never be underestimated either!!!"

What are the main things to remember when working with volunteers?

"Always be fair and in the event of any issues involving volunteers try to imagine how they are feeling and how to reconcile their situation with any problems. In simple terms treat people in the same manner as you would want to be treated yourself. Another important rule is never to ask a volunteer to perform a task you wouldn't be prepared to do yourself.It is also imperative to recognise that volunteering is a two way street and on occasion those who volunteer may not be suitable for the museum. It is important to approach this issue sensitively and honestly but don't beat yourself up about it!"