Person holding a sign reading volunteers needed


Before the new normal was normal – that is before March 23rd, 2020, when lockdown was announced – we would evangelise about the millions of volunteers. We would note the billions of pounds their work amounted to, if equated to an economic value. We would say:

• It is estimated that in the UK 20.1 million people volunteer to support activities, events and causes. 7 in 10 people, surveyed in 2019, reveal they volunteer.

• In 2015, volunteering was worth more than £22.6bn to the UK economy. This is equivalent to about 1.2% of GDP.

• 1 in 5 (22%) people formally volunteered regularly (at least once a month) in 2017/18 (11.9 million people).

• In 2017/18, 53% of people informally volunteered at least once, and 27% of people took part in informal volunteering regularly.

It’s clear from these incredible stats that we are part of nation of doers and givers (of our time) and how- if this natural resource of people doing good together is part of a national strategy – just imagine… yes, just imagine. Then Covid 19 came and everything stopped and organisations closed and many organisations furloughed their teams. Volunteers were at home.

Now we have a major challenge in sustaining our heritage organisations and charities, keeping volunteering going and making it safe for volunteers.

Research confirms that those volunteering in the last 12 months participate in formal volunteering at least once a month, are more likely to be older, well-educated and from higher socio-economic groups. All generations are affected by Covid 19, but if a primary volunteer demographic is affected by social distancing it makes the drive to diversify volunteering even more important.

With an aging society and Covid 19 disruption, it is extremely important we sustain, value, diversify and innovate volunteering. This will not only sustain current levels of volunteering, it will open-up public participation to wider demographic profiles, benefiting health and well-being, local health systems and the economy.

Feeling connected lies at the core of the volunteer experience.

Tickbox’s Tech for Good product: Volunteer Makers enable “Connected Communities”. This creates greater numbers of volunteers and bigger impacts. It brings to the fore remote and micro-volunteering and diversifies volunteering.

For 7 years, Tickbox Tech for Good products and national pilot training programmes have shown how enabling “connected communities” to be inspired is:

• A scalable model
• Cost-effective
• A means to help organisations adapt to disruption and economic shocks
• A way to diversify volunteering

Tickbox began operating in 2007 in Somerset and is now based in Bristol, we work with clients across the UK.

Our tech-driven engagement model (Volunteer Makers) helps heritage, arts, charity and community organisations navigate economic shocks, adapt to disruption and implement organisational change. Along with the tech we have evolved training tools and learning.

During lockdown our clients have launched and extended their community and volunteer engagement, because this engagement model and its digital tools work even in lockdown with social distancing.

Learn more about Volunteer Makers in lockdown:

Oldham show how to reach people – even in lockdown

Museum Makers repeat history in lockdown

Volunteer journey


Tickbox (the tech team behind Volunteer Makers) is offering charities, museums, arts and community organisations free online sessions to support new engagement strategies, following the impact of Covid 19 on volunteering and audience development.

Sessions can cover micro and remote volunteering, with non-contact participation in mind, and how to grow your volunteer and supporter community through digital engagement.

These sessions are free via Zoom during June and July. Sessions last approximately 40 minutes.

For charities, museums, arts organisations, community groups, and health and well-being projects who are facing immediate disruption and change, we are also offering support on using the Volunteer Makers platform, and on using digital marketing tools (Mailchimp, social media, Google tools).

If you want to find out more get in touch via

Take Part Oldham homepage on a laptop


The coronavirus emergency has left us with all sorts of challenges, including how to remain connected with others and still benefit from being part of community. For heritage, arts and other charity organisations the question is how do we remain connected to volunteers and supporters? And how do these organisations continue to build their numbers in order to thrive during and after lockdown.

Take Part Oldham’s Volunteer Makers has launched during the most difficult time in our country’s post-war history, but it has hit the ground running and built engagement with local organisations, helped by Volunteer Makers.

Volunteer Makers embodies Tickbox’s “tech for good” ethos: Using tech creatively and strategically to connect communities, building engagement and allowing measurable benefits to flow.

The Arts, Heritage, Libraries and Music services in Oldham have got together to create Take Part Oldham, an online space using Volunteer Makers, that makes it easy to see what community activities local people can get involved in. What is significant is Take Part Oldham launched during lockdown. Take Part Oldham has 37 creative challenges running and has signed up more than 100 people (and rising) to take part remotely.

Music is an important part of the heritage, libraries and art grouping that makes up Take Part Oldham and one challenge asks people to stage an impromptu gig in their gardens at 4pm any day they choose.

The results are uploaded onto social media and as well as keeping up morale (and raising a few laughs) in these difficult times, the initiative links in the community with the arts in Oldham.

Another creative challenge gets people to post online book reviews: a great lockdown idea which not only encourages reading but builds engagement with Oldham libraries, who are tagged in by this virtual book club.

Keep fit meets the arts when Oldham Theatre Workshop’s Craig Harris holds a series of streamed daily warm-up exercises. The public can log on and warm up like a professional actor in a challenge that builds engagement with the theatre.

Lockdown means being inventive with challenges, but lots of people online with lots of time on their hands equals a great opportunity for reaching out and making connections with the public. Connections that should last even when the virus is vanquished. Connections that may last a lifetime.

Slide from presentation

Volunteer Makers showcased to the movers and shakers

Tickbox were invited to join a number of museum and heritage organisations based in the South West and South East to share best practice and learning around managing volunteers.

The Museum Volunteer Co-ordinators Forum was held in Swindon on February 27th and the theme was “Tools and Tips for Better Working”. It was organised by South West Museum Development (SWMD) and their South East counterpart: South East Museum Development (SEmuseumDP).

Both SWMD and SEmuseumDP are ACE-funded museum development programmes that enable museums in their regions to evolve and thrive.

Around 50 + delegates joined the seminar to hear case studies, share ideas and best practice and network. It was also an opportunity to hear from companies like Tickbox about tech that can inspire. Volunteer Makers is an engagement model and technology product designed to help organisations establish/grow a supporter/volunteer community. It also provides useful tools to manage volunteers.

Volunteer Makers has been driven by collaborative working with heritage organisations, started around 6 years ago with Luton Culture and Museum Makers. It helps organisations think through and deliver their volunteer strategy.

Engage in Gloucester – Volunteer Makers has been working with Volunteer Makers for the past 2 years and the Engage in Gloucester platform was launched in October 2019. Since then it has gone on to have a significant impact for Gloucester Culture Trust and their 62 heritage partners.

Engage in Gloucester has shifted the face of volunteering for Gloucester,” said Director of Gloucester Culture Hollie Smith-Charles at the event. “We have got better at thinking through accessible volunteer opportunities and thinking what’s in it for the volunteer. This has led us to effectively reach the people we need to, including younger people – who make up 40% of the population”.

Other speakers sharing their volunteer  management experience included:

Paola Palmer, Still Curious Project Coordinator and Hampshire Cultural Officer, The Red House Museum.

Hollie Foskett-Barnes, Membership Co-ordinator, Museum of East Asian Art, Bath.

Joy Todd, Head of Volunteering and Community Engagement, Gardens and Museums (GLAM), University of Oxford.

Tickbox MD and Programme Director for Volunteer Makers Claire Sully was asked to give a brief introduction to Volunteer Makers to further support the case study provided by Hollie Smith-Charles for Engage in Gloucester.

Claire said “Seeing Hollie demonstrating the positive impact of working with Volunteer Makers for Engage in Gloucester was very exciting. We know the tech is great, but the important thing is what the tech enables and for Gloucester this has been something quite extraordinary.”