Case study | September 2022
Joe and Adam Hewber are a father and son team who pioneered the development of Ability Heroes. They have been assisted by web developer and support worker, Chris Dickmann, and their loyal volunteer directors. As a small but dedicated team they now operate the Ability Heroes organisation. Ability Heroes is a charity that provides information on accessibility and inclusion about West Australian venues. The information displayed on the Ability Heroes website is supplied by local volunteers.
Joe, Adam and Chris have ambitious goals for the coverage and access of their information but were struggling to find enough volunteers to realise their vision.
Through Volunteering WA’s Volunteer Management Activity program, Ability Heroes were able to address some of their challenges for recruiting volunteers.
Some of their initial challenges included:
- effectively communicating the function and value of their organisation
- understanding how to target their ideal volunteer
- understanding of why and how people might volunteer for their organisation
- understanding how to write a good position descriptions, to attract the right volunteers.
Strategy to improve position descriptions
Volunteering WA met with the Ability Heroes team to better understand their organisational goals, website functionality, and their current needs. Some important strands emerged from the assessment:
- Recruitment of volunteers was a priority, to help move towards the medium-term goals of the organisation.
- Focusing and aligning their recruitment process needed some attention. The role descriptions were lacking precision and documentation.
Volunteering WA forwarded some documents to support their workflow. This included a position description checklist that asked the following questions to help write the short description for the roles.
- Have you explained who the organisation is?
- Have you explained the cause and what you are trying to achieve?
- Have you stated what difference the volunteer will make?
- Have you given an indication of the required days/times/hours?
- Have you included any benefits e.g. friendships, fun, work experience?
- Have you mentioned training or support?
- Have you indicated the location i.e. from home or at a place?
The position description checklist also expanded on the short description and asked for complete details that could be uploaded to an online volunteer recruitment platform such as Volunteering WA’s VIKTOR platform.
Ability Heroes sent a first draft of a position description to Volunteering WA and the short description needed a little attention.
- The short description was a little long as the limit is 500 characters
- the emotional appeal/language could be expanded
- the cause could be better communicated; and
- the role responsibilities more defined.
With that in mind, Volunteering WA provided a second document which was a short description tutorial. This provided a short description case study of another organisation, broken down into simple text that could be used as a guiding example.
Ability Heroes made a second edit with this tutorial in mind. The second draft was close to ready. Volunteering WA provided a few final suggestions, and the position description was ready to advertise. Success!
Ability Heroes received more expressions of interest than they expected and are now conducting orientation and training of volunteers. They expect to expand their operation considerably. The coverage of their WA venue access information is likely to significantly improve and will benefit all abilities across WA. They have consulted with Volunteering WA on governance and membership benefits and were able to quickly assess their immediate priorities.
In the medium term, Volunteering WA also suggested attending an upcoming workshop on the Volunteer Engagement Plan, and/or Writing Volunteer Position Description. Volunteering WA also offers a free online course on writing volunteer positions that can be completed in sections to fit in with busy schedules.
- Volunteer Engagement Plan training, Writing effective position descriptions workshop or online
- Attending Position Description online training and/or microlearning course
- See www.volunteeringwa.org.au https://www.volunteeringwa.org.au/volunteer-management/build-your-organisational-capacity-through-the-vma-program
Contact Volunteering WA to access free position description and other online support service for your organisation, to help you successfully recruit and retain volunteers.
Volunteering WA's support services are supported by the Australian Government Department Social Services.
Feedback from Ability Heroes | Joe Hewber
“Our collaboration with Volunteering WA has been important in the development of the Ability Heroes project. We have been able to laser-focus our volunteer recruitment efforts with the advice and support from staff at Volunteering WA. We have also taken advantage of the VIKTOR volunteer recruitment platform which helps us keep our recruitment activities structured and our workflow simplified. We can build our volunteer capacity from the diverse all abilities community.
Volunteering WA membership staff have also shared their expertise and advice with our organisation with a real focus on what we need, at this time, in and our unique circumstances. As a very small team, running an ambitious project, Volunteering WA’s continuing support and advice is always gratefully received.”