As part of the work being done by Bristol 2015 Ltd and Cities of Service, Head of Volunteering Emma Thompson, embarked on a study of Green Organisations that worked with Volunteers in Bristol.


This study, which took place from November 2015-February 2016, consisted of surveys and interviews with people who worked with volunteers in the city.

There was a wide variety in the roles participants took in their organisations: some were paid members of staff whose core role in the charitable organisation was taking care of volunteers, many others were volunteers themselves. 

The list of 113 Green organisations invited to take part in the survey was compiled from Green Capital Partnership Members, Earth Champion Winners and Green Capital grant holders. 62 organisations in Bristol contributed to the survey and 14 were interviewed. 

Those chosen for interview were thought to hold some insight which might be beneficial to the sector at large. For example Avon Wildlife Trust has over 800 volunteers who return to the charity time and again to volunteer, this high retention rate is impressive and it was thought that if we could better understand what continues to draw volunteers back, these learnings could be shared across the sector to improve volunteer experience generally. 

At the bottom of the page you can find PDF files of each of the articles. Feel free to share these files. 

There were several key factors that came out of the study we have focused on: 

  • Improving the working relationships between business and charities, especially relating to volunteering days.
  • Methods of Recruitment
  • Methods of Retention
  • The positive impact of appreciation on maintaining high levels of volunteer retention.
  • The impact of demographics on recruitment and retention of volunteers.

We invite discussion and conversation around the topics mentioned and hope that this content helps you achieve more through your volunteer programmes.

This study was a joint project with Bristol 2015 Ltd, Cities of Service, Bristol Green Capital Partnership and Bristol City Council. 


Study Highlights

This clickable document, written by Bristol Cities of Service Head of Volunteering, Emma Thompson, is a summary of some focus areas and key findings of the study. 

Who Took Part

14 organisations were interviewed as part of our study of green organisations working with volunteers in Bristol. This article provides information about each of the organisations and the interviewees who took part. This article is clickable.

Strategic Review and Recommendations

Written by Bristol Cities of Service Chief of Service Dominic Murphy and Head of Volunteering Emma Thompson, this document considers the implications of the findings from a strategic perspective and sets out some recommendations for the future. 

Survey Report

62 organisations contributed to our survey, this report outlines the findings of those surveys. It covers statistics about contributors and statistics about demographics, recruitment methods, retention, appreciation methods, volunteer hours and budgets across the city.

Volunteer Recruitment

This article uses insights from both the surveys and the interviews to help understand how organisations are going about volunteer recruitment and find out what those who are most successful are doing differently. 

Volunteer Retention and Appreciation

This article uses insights from both the surveys and the interviews to help understand volunteer retention in the city. It then looks at the connection between retention and appreciation and gives some insight into how appreciation can be used to increase retention. 

The Impact of Demographics on Volunteer Retention.

This article covers the findings about diversity in the green sector from the survey contributions.

It then goes into more detail from the interviews about how your volunteer demographics can impact your volunteer programme and how by understanding the needs and aspirations of different demographical groups you can develop more satisfying ways for your volunteers to get involved. 

Working With Vulnerable Volunteers

As part of the study we interviewed several Bristol organisations that have extensive experience working with vulnerable volunteers. We asked them to provide some insight and suggestions to enable others to build their confidence when working with vulnerable groups. 

This article covers many kinds of vulnerable volunteers, including people suffering from mental or physical disabilities, long term unemployment, depression and drug or alcohol recoverers. 

Corporate Volunteering Case Study

From our initial survey results we found that many community organisations struggled to have positive experiences with corporate business. Consiquently we interviewed three Bristol 2015 Ltd sponsors in an effort to better understand the relationship from both sides. 

This article outlines six challenges with current systems and six ways to prepare for a successful project. One of 2015's  most successful corporate volunteering projects has become our case study, enabling you to see how the strategies above have real-world implications. 

Examples of Volunteer Roles in Bristol

As part of our study of green organisations working with volunteers in Bristol we found a wide variety of skilled roles being used across the city. We also found that many organisations weren't sure what they could ask their volunteers to do, in terms of skilled volunteering. Hopefully this resource will give some ideas.

Taking Care of Our Volunteers - Presentation

On the 29th of March we held an event at the Unitarian Chapel in Bristol to celebrate and share findings from our study. This is the Powerpoint presentation from that event. 

It contains suggestions and tips determined from the completion of the study that would be valuable to both business and community sector organisations hoping to improve their work with volunteers. 

Blog Feed

November 15, 2016
Activity centre project shows how CSR can become mainstream business activity
A project involving Young Bristol and Burges Salmon shows just how great the benefits can be for all concerned if you plan your staff volunteering project.
August 25, 2016
Recognising great work in the community
Do you know a person or local voluntary group making an extraordinary contribution to the community, voluntary, local and social enterprise sector? If so, nominating them for an honour or award can be a great way to recognise their efforts.
July 19, 2016
Local charity wins top national award for the second time
Local charity WE Care & Repair has been named national Home Improvement Agency (HIA) Service of the Year 2016 at the national Home Improvement Agency and Handyperson Service Awards held at the House of Lords.