Volunteer recruitment and retention takes time and energy so it's important to try and recruit the right people, ensure they are warmly welcomed and to provide a clear inducton at the very start.


The process of onboarding a new volunteer does not necessarily need to be formal. The purpose of interviewing a potential volunteer for your food co-op is really to assess how the needs of both the co-op and potential volunteer can be met. Crucially, too, it is to ensure that the volunteer fully understands the role and the commitment required.

A trial period of perhaps one month is a good way to assess whether the volunteer is a good fit and allows for a period of review at the end of the month when feedback from both sides can be given. If it isn't working out, you can part company on good terms. If both you and the volunteer are happy to continue, this can be a good point to offer more feedback, training or other benefits.


Once you have selected a volunteer, how will you introduce them to the co-op and the people they will be working with? A volunteer is much more likely to enjoy the experience if they feel welcome, know what they're supposed to be doing and are appreciated for their effort and time. From the food co-op's point of view, you need volunteers to fit in, feel confident about completing their task well, and to derive enough benefit, enjoyment and satisfaction so that they keep coming back.

An informal induction to the organisation is a good way of making the volunteer feel comfortable and explaining how the organisation works. Some general induction points to consider are:

  • Explaining the main tasks involved in the role and how they need to be carried out
  • Introduction to other volunteers and any paid staff, including those who are based in the same venue but are not involved with the food co-op
  • Tour of the building, location of amenities, such as a kitchen or where volunteers can safely leave their things
  • Who to contact in an emergency and if they encounter any problems
  • Information about breaks, and where they can go locally if they want to leave the building
  • How they can claim expenses
  • Explanation of the volunteer policy (if there is one) and a background to the organisation.

You can also use an induction checklist to record the areas that have been covered.

There may be certain duties and roles in your food co-op that require other specific training.

To find more useful food co-op related information visit our homepage

Food Co-ops toolkit: The Food Co-ops Toolkit will give you all the information you need to set up your own food co-op.

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