A Guide to Digital User Experience for Charity Recruitment

How to revolutionise your online recruitment process and attract the best candidates

A new step by step guide titled ‘A Guide to Digital User Experience for Charity Recruitment – How to revolutionise your online recruitment process and attract the best candidates’ has been launched by Workfuly.  Creating a great online recruitment process is crucial to attracting talent, but knowing where to start and how to create the best experiences for candidates can be a challenge.

The guide is jargon free and easy to follow. It begins by explaining what ‘digital user experience’ is and how charities large and small can apply proven techniques to create effective online recruitment pages.

There are sections ranging from what makes good design, how to test the effectiveness of website pages down to the different methods for candidates to submit job applications. It’s all written with a goal to create great recruitment pages focusing on the charity organisation, the job and the candidate.

Many charities today recognise the importance of a good online experience for attracting donations and volunteers, yet many still aren’t paying the same attention to their recruitment process.

Site/download not available at February 2020: To read or download a copy of the guide visit workfuly.co.uk/blog/digital-user-experience-for-charity-recruitment

Thoughts on Working in the Voluntary Sector

This is addressed to those contemplating taking the plunge into paid employment in the voluntary sector. Those of you already working in charities, community organisations, campaigning groups etc. need read no further. Otherwise…..


  • Working for a Charity, NCVO, Regent’s Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL, phone 020 7520 2512 / 2493, email: workingforacharity@ncvo-vol.org.uk. A training body for people wishing to transfer their skills to the voluntary sector.

Our thoughts

The first thing to point out is the massive diversity here. Large household name charities have employees in the thousands, while a self-help group may just have a part-time admin worker, with all the possibilities in between. Terms and conditions can range from close to the average for that type of job (perhaps even above in terms of maternity leave, pensions or total leave entitlement) to the very minimum allowed (and if you are unlucky, below). Many organisations expect their staff to be committed to the cause to the extent of being self-exploiting – the sector incurs an above average number of industrial tribunal cases which may well be due to employees burning out or no longer being willing to do this. On the other hand, job satisfaction can be massive and in smaller organisations learning opportunities many and frequent.

Changing (or getting) a job normally requires careful thought if it is to be successful – changing to the voluntary sector even more so. Be clear why you want to make the move, what terms and conditions you would be happy with, how much commitment you are prepared to give. The latter is usually quite obvious at interview, but there will be friction if you accept a job which takes too much out of you. It can be tricky finding out in advance what the work ethos of an organisation is, and senior staff can live in a different world from everybody else, but be suspicious if you aren’t given an opportunity to look round at some point in the recruitment process.

Trade Unions are even less in evidence in the sector than the commercial world. There is also often not an obvious career structure – to progress you may need to move organisations fairly frequently, and for many this will mean across to the public sector (local authority, government quangos and the like) and back. In smaller organisations, moving on every 3 to 4 years is pretty normal.

Particular parts of the sector have their own characteristics. For instance, conservation organisations often expect you to have experience as a volunteer in a similar organisation before you get your first paid job, community groups are likely to mark you down for being too nicely dressed, and campaigning groups will fairly obviously prefer it if you can show an existing interest in the subject they campaign on. Some of this is common sense, but not all. Get an idea of the style of an organisation from its reports, web site, media coverage, contacts, whatever.

Don’t expect a job in the voluntary sector to be less demanding than one in the commercial world, even if it pays less. There are some jobs where this holds true, but pressures are increasing to do more for less, here as elsewhere. The better employers recognise the effort being put in, and reward it as best they can – maybe more flexibility in working hours or tolerance of odd habits and enthusiasms, chances to get involved in ‘fun’ events – but very rarely extra pay. ‘Professionalism’ is increasing, which sometimes just means appointing the person with the flashiest qualifications, but more positively is about recognising that employees are there to develop their professional skills as well as graft hard.

Other thoughts

Prospects, the graduate career advice web site, has some pages on what is involved in various fields. Look under Explore Types of Job, and then for example: Social and Pastoral Care – Community Work for advice worker, community worker, youth worker, etc.

Employing Staff


For many organisations recruiting their first paid worker after relying on volunteer effort, the positive buzz is undermined by not just having to come to terms with new management issues but also all the regulations and issues around employing staff. Some voluntary organisations think these only apply to commercial bodies and ignore, others try to apply the approach of large corporations (where trustees might work) resulting in overkill.

There are get outs on some regulations for smaller concerns, but you should always check (and also consider whether in best practice terms or because of the number of volunteers you should respect them anyway).

Workforce resources on NCVO website.

Trades Unions, Associations

Some parts of the sector are heavily unionised, while elsewhere they don’t seem to have heard of them. Employers can’t use them as information sources directly, but staff who are members can often get some useful general briefings for free. Unions with dedicated voluntary sector branches include:

  • Unison Probably the largest presence in the sector (around 50,000 members quoted early 2006). Contact National Officer for Voluntary Sector (Mike Short), 1 Mabledon Place, London, WC1H 9AJ, phone 0845 355 0845, email: cvsector@unison.co.uk. There is also a Voluntary Organisations Branch based at Suite 103/4, 134-146 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3AR, phone 020 7729 4001/5001.
  • Unite has a specialist section for community, play, youth and not-for profit workers in the UK.
  • Association of Community Workers Info about various aspects of community work. Stephenson Buildings, Elswick Rd, Newcastle, NE4 6SQ, phone 0191 272 4341 (these contact details may be out of date).
  • Community union includes branches covering specific voluntary sector areas/activities, and incorporates British Union of Social Work and National League of the Blind & Disabled (recognised in sheltered workshops). The Community Union Combined Branches in the North of England (Yorkshire & Humberside, Manchester and Lancashire) specifically organises and recruits in the Voluntary, Community Care and Housing Associations Sector.

Employment Contracts and Policies

The Policies Checklist we have compiled will flag up some issues you need to consider, such as Disciplinary and Grievance, Time Off in Lieu, Redundancy, Retirement. There are certain legal requirements to any employment contract. These include issuing a written ‘statement of employment particulars’ within 2 months of starting (sooner if working abroad), for any employee working longer than a month, with no minimum working hours. It must include names, start date, salary, hours and place of work, holidays. This or other documents must cover sick pay, pensions, length of contract if not permanent, any collective agreements.

Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Advisory handbook from ACAS online (or order in print) from their publications website.

NCVO will send you model standard and fixed term employment contracts if you send an sae to the Helpdesk, NCVO, Regent’s Wharf, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL (helpdesk phone 0800 2798 798).

Valuing the Voluntary Sector – Quality Conditions for Quality Services was a campaign from TGWU, September 2005, which included a charter of rights for people working in voluntary organisations. No longer running, but check Unite pages.

A Guide to Good Employment was produced by Northern Ireland sector support body NICVA, but disappeared from website in 2014 redesign. Try their HR or Resources sections for other employment help. While much of the human resources guidance will be common across the UK, do note that some legal requirements differ.

Please take legal advice or consult a support body for more guidance – we can’t give definitive information here due to the breadth of the subject and range of organisations who might be reading this.

Sources of Advice

  • Personnel consultants specialising in the sector will be listed on the management consultants list. This specialism may or may not be highlighted for an entry, but its worth asking.
  • ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) As well as their well-known role of mediating in disputes, they run a variety of employment related workshops at reasonable prices. They also have short advice publications, specimen forms etc. which can be downloaded from the web site or picked up for free from their offices, on such topics as contracts of employment, discipline at work, flexible employment requirements. Contact your regional office. London office: Clifton House, 83-117 Euston Road, NW1 2RB, phone 020 7396 5121.
  • HRNet, run by the Cranfield Trust, offers charities online Human Resources advice and access to information on HR developments.
  • Institute for Employment Studies A charity connected to Sussex Uni – all aspects of employment policy and practice, do research and consultancy.
  • HRZone has a variety of online resources, some free.
  • Your rights at work: A TUC guide comes as a result of the demand from the TUC’s Know Your Rights phone line. Order from Kogan Page, phone 01903 828800 (£8-99).

Work as part of life

How far work should be allowed to dominate an individual’s life is increasing in importance as an issue in the sector. Why should relationships and social life suffer because of your work being so crucial? Isn’t it better for all (including performance at work) to strike a fair balance? These are some of the questions you can investigate further via the following links:

  • Working Families believes that implementing work-life balance practices helps the voluntary sector build capacity through flexible working and improve recruitment and retention. 1-3 Berry Street, London, EC1V 0AA, phone 020 7253 7243, email: office@workingfamilies.org.uk
  • The Work Foundation did have relevant publications such as Time to go home – embracing the homeworking revolution (May 03), which includes management and legal advice, and The Work-Life Manual, ‘a practical tool … to help identify what work-life initiatives you can introduce’, but not sure that these are still available.
  • Getting It Right: Improving work-life balance in your business, jointly produced by NSPCC with Federation of Small Businesses and British Chambers of Commerce, is a free practical guide looking at how 11 different businesses (including a voluntary organisation and a housing association) have successfully introduced flexible employment patterns. However, it doesn’t appear to be available any more, Jan ’06.
  • Family and Childcare Trust Has information and advice for parents on childcare options and entitlements.

Note that certain, basic, legal requirements on flexible working were introduced from April ’03. See most of the above for details.


Employment Regulations

Useful websites

More indepth/for the professional

  • For loads of web links check out British Employment Law Information. This is a service from DiscLaw Publishing, who work with the Law Society. It also provides access to the professional Employment Law pages for £5 a day, which you can sign up for instantly (something like £120 for a year, which includes CD-ROM too).
  • Employment Law free email news service from Daniel Barnett (barrister). Only for those who really want to keep on top of legal developments as they happen – a professional approach.
  • Employment Appeal Tribunal for law reports.


We don’t claim or seek to cover everything here. Just the issues most likely to impact on voluntary sector organisations. See Useful web sites (above) for more.

Employers Liability Insurance is a requirement – check out Insurers if you haven’t got this covered, and remember to check whether it covers volunteers working for you. We understand that in addition to having to display a valid certificate proving your cover, the organisation must now keep this for 40 years!

Work Permits are administered by part of Home Office’s Border Agency. Work permit arrangements allow employers based in Great Britain to employ people who are not nationals of a European Economic Area country and are not otherwise entitled to work in this country. See Gov.Uk section ‘Check if someone can work in the UK‘.

National Minimum Wage regulations are enforced by HM Revenue & Customs. Rates are revised from time to time. If you pay more than reimbursement of expenses to volunteers, watch out! There are also implications on record keeping, especially if you pay less than £12,000 per year (£1,000 per month). The NMW information line is on 0845 8450 360.

Unfair dismissal considerations apply after one year. This means that if you have had someone on temporary contracts for more than a year, you might have a problem if that employment comes to an end (for whatever reason) unless you know your employment law.

Criminal Record Checks /Barring We give the basics of this under Volunteers and the law. This mainly impacts on care and children organisations. See Disclosure and Barring Service (was Criminal Records Bureau, alternative link on Gov.uk). In Scotland, it is Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) checks – see Disclosure Scotland or Volunteer Scotland resources.

Unions, industrial action

Union recognition and ballots. Part of Employment Relations Act 1999 provisions, in force from June 2000.

BIS has published a guide for employees / trade union members who are considering taking industrial action, in pdf format ‘Industrial Action and the Law‘.

Gov.uk Trade Unions and workers rights section.

Leave, working hours, work-life balance

Parental Leave – Maternity and Paternity leave. Improvements in entitlements from April 03. There are also rights for time off for emergencies involving dependants (but no obligation for this to be paid).

Working Time Regulations came into force October 1998. 48 hours averaged over 17 weeks is the maximum unless the employee has agreed in writing, or there is a union agreement. There are various other rights and some types of workers with other get outs.

Gov.uk on leave and time off (England, Wales and NI).


The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the official anti-discrimination body.

Disability Discrimination Act See the disability related sites on People Resources page. Employers with 15 or more employees may not discriminate against current or prospective employees with disabilities. Small employer exemption ended Oct ’04.

Religious and sexual orientation discrimination regulations from December 2003. See ACAS guidance.

Race discrimination Under amendments brought in July 03, an exemption from the 1976 Race Relations Act that had allowed charities serving particular racial groups to recruit staff from a particular racial group has been partially repealed. ‘Genuine occupational requirements’ can still be used when recruiting staff, where the nature of the employment requires someone of a particular race, ethnic or national origin.

Appraisal Form: Sample Document

Please note that our sample documents are intended as examples which can act as starting points and prompters. They should not be taken as definitive, complete or even sufficient for your purposes – you should at the very least consider how your circumstances (requirements, organisational structure etc) differ. But they are better than a blank sheet!


What you cover in an appraisal will depend to a large extent on how management works in the organisation over the rest of the year. If there aren’t regular supervisions sessions, or similar, issues like time keeping, sickness record, understanding of work objectives and standards ought to be included somewhere.

Part One

Appraisal Checklist

Questions to be considered and anwered by the appraisee before the appraisal session:

How accurately does your job description describe the job you do? What changes could be made to the job description in order to reflect the job you are doing?

What are your main achievements of the last twelve months?

What would you like to have achieved over the last twelve months but have been unable to do so? What prevented you from doing so?

What has gone well over the last year, and why?

What has not gone well over the last year, and why? How can the situation be improved in the coming year?

What specific targets do you think you can achieve over the coming year? These can include your current areas of work or new areas of work which you would like to take on.

What do you need from the organisation to help you reach these targets?

Can you identify any specific areas where training would help you improve your performance?

Are there any other issues you would like to raise? These can include any ideas or concerns you have either with your career, your role, your management, or with the organisation in general. Please be a specific as possible.


Part Two

Appraisal Form

Name (appraisee) __________________________

Job Title _________________________________

Line Manager/Appraiser _____________________

The following should indicate dates for achievement/action and who to do, where appropriate.

  • Agreed targets for the year:
  • Agreed training needs:
  • Other action points (including any amendments to job description):

Line manager comments

Job holder comments

Director’s comments

Signed __________________________ Job holder. Date:

Signed __________________________ Line manager. Date:


Copies to be kept by both parties (during following year) and on personnel file.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Induction Checklist: Sample Document

Sample documents are generally based on ones developed for particular organisations. As such, you should use them as a starting point rather than a definitive statement. Organisations differ in how they function and your circumstances (e.g. organisational structure, priority issues) should be taken into account. But better than a blank sheet!


This simple checklist was created for paid staff. While volunteers will need much of the same, some areas will need to differ. Legally, there should be some care not to use words that imply an employment contract. Clarifying mutual expectations is the suggested approach (whether there is a minimum time commitment, training needed to undertake certain roles, what roles are available). Also who they report to if providing, for example, admin help across departments can be a concern.


  • When, where to arrive, who to meet.
  • Terms and conditions, contract.
  • Job description, any further background notes.


  • Introductions to immediate colleagues (Team).
  • Office basics:
    • Office access and security
    • Health and safety.
    • Fire drill
    • First aid procedures/officers
    • General office facilities – post, copier, stationery supplies, drinks, phone answering, diaries etc.
  • Workstations, equipment
  • Clarify personnel issues – holiday arrangements, office hours and cover, dress code, sickness reporting
  • Introduction to other office staff (as available).
  • Basic structure and purpose of organisation *.
  • Clarify job, key relationships *.
  • Starting tasks *.


  • Communication channels, responsibilities *
    • – within Team
    • – outline for whole organisation.
  • General work standards *.
  • Specific facilities/resources for the job.
  • Supervisory sessions *.
  • Organisation’s history, policies, goals, structure *.


Those items marked * above will need to be revisited and developed over time.

Assessment of initial training and development needs.


First appraisal interview/probationary period review.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Person Specification: Sample Document

Please note that our sample documents are intended as examples which can act as starting points and prompters. They should not be taken as definitive, complete or even sufficient for your purposes – you should at the very least consider how your circumstances (requirements, organisational structure etc.) differ. But they are better than a blank sheet!

This document has been slightly adapted from one which came our way from a well-known campaigning organisation – we hope that they don’t mind.


For more on Personnel type issues for the voluntary sector, try the Managing People page.

An Organisation

Person Specification

Job Title: Campaigner

Department: Campaigns

E = ESSENTIAL, D = DESIRABLE for applicants to meet relevant standard


Work experience At least 2 years’ experience of working or volunteering within a campaigning organisation. E Application form
Experience of working with volunteers E Application form/Interview
Experience of carrying out research E Application form/Interview
Experience of lobbying and/or working with MPs/civil servants/local authorities. D Application form/Interview
Experience of organising and prioritising a demanding workload E Interview/Test
Experience of setting up events and meetings E Application form/Interview
Knowledge Knowledge of political processes E Application form/Interview
Knowledge of environmental/ conservation issues D Application form/Interview
Skills Ability to produce accurate work to tight deadlines under pressure E Application form/Test
Ability to communicate clearly in writing and orally to committees and small meetings E Application form/ Interview/Test
Word processing skills/ability to be self-sufficient in terms of administration E Application form/Test/ Interview
Ability to draft campaign literature E Application form/Test
Attitude Commitment to An Organisation’s aims E Application form/Interview