Idea 8: Reflect the diversity of your community.

Communities are diverse and a similarly diverse volunteer base can ensure that services are relevant and meaningful. Diversity in volunteers can also broaden community support. Diversity can include a broad range of characteristics including: ethnicity, culture, age, gender, education, income, physical ability. Examine the nature and scope of volunteer opportunities in your organization to see if they can encompass a volunteer population that reflects the community demographic.

Voices from the field:

  • Target your marketing.
  • There is such a rich and diverse pool of skills and people in our community. I am often surprised when a particular need arises and then a person with those skills comes forward. There is power in working from a community’s strengths. In a volunteer pool there is a diverse set of strengths… it goes back to the idea that we are stronger together than we are alone.
  • This is not something we try to manipulate but it is interesting to see it fluctuate. This year we have quite a few younger tutors and quite a few male tutors which is great. It is an asset to have diversity so that the matching with a learner is easier. There is diversity in learners and so diversity in tutors makes that easier.
  • We have been fortunate not to have to go looking too hard for tutors. We have put an ad in the community section of the paper when we are looking. This attracts a wide range of people. We have also recruited at the Rotary club when doing presentations there… that attracts older (often retired) folks. We also have just ‘put the word out’ which gets a range of tutors.

To learn more:

Baskin, A. (2011). Involving clients in your volunteer program: best practices. Retrieved from
» Advice on successfully involving clients as volunteers.

Chiasson, N. & Morel, C. (2007). New Canadians talk about volunteerism: perceived motivations and barriers. Retrieved from

Fryar, A., Jackson, R. & Dyer, F. (Eds.). (2007). Turn your organization into a volunteer magnet. 2nd ed. Retrieved from
» Includes a section of essays on attracting diverse volunteers.

Gotlieb, L. (2011). Challenges to volunteering for newcomers. Retrieved from
» Suggestions on welcoming new Canadians as volunteers.

Graff, L. (2005). Best of all: the quick reference guide to effective volunteer involvement. Dundas, Ont.: Linda Graff & Associates.
» Includes suggestions for preparing for diversity, p. 78-79.

Imagine Canada. (2007). Volunteering, diversity, and inclusion. Retrieved from
» This issue of the Knowledge Development Centre Bulletin highlights resources that provide guidelines, practical advice and insights on engaging volunteers with a diverse range of individual, cultural, and ethnic characteristics. (n.d.) Virtual volunteering resources. Retrieved from
» Includes information on working with online volunteers who have disabilities.

Stewart, D. et al. (2009). A guide for cultural competency application of the Canadian Code. Retrieved from
» Lots of information on planning for volunteer participation that reflects the diversity of the community served.

Volunteer BC. (2012). Labour Market Partnerships Project: diversity in volunteerism for labour market development in BC’s non-profit sector: Culturally Welcoming Volunteer Program. Retrieved from
» A good practice report on engaging new immigrants in volunteer programs.

Volunteer Canada. (2011). Bridging the gap: enriching the volunteer experience to build a better future for our communities. Retrieved from
» This research found that more new Canadians are seeking volunteer opportunities, and recommended organizations be sensitive to gender, culture, language and age to improve the volunteer experience.

Winter, L., Whitmore, L. & Hamilton, J. (2008). Capturing the talents of newcomer volunteers: a guide to developing effective, culturally inclusive volunteer programs. Retrieved from

Last updated: November 12, 2015