Celebrating our volunteers

Volunteers have made an extraordinary contribution to the RSPB's work over the past year.

Making amazing things possible

One million hours

Last year volunteers gave nearly one million hours of their time to the RSPB. This remarkable donation of time and talent demonstrates how fundamental volunteers are to saving nature. In fact, they make up 85% of our workforce: we genuinely couldn’t do what we do without them.

What some might find surprising is the sheer diversity of our volunteers. On a nature reserve, for example, we may have people talking to visitors, others carrying out wildlife surveys and others involved in hands-on habitat management. And of course there’s a whole host of people who work outside of our network of nature reserves. We have fundraisers, trainers, campaigners and many more, all making a real difference to nature.

One team for nature

Diverse our volunteers may be, but all are united in a commitment to save nature. Throughout the year, we’ve been speaking to our volunteers and it is clear that they also share a sense of achievement. Student Laura Humphries volunteered as a marketing and events assistant for RSPB Northern Ireland. As she explains: “I never thought that in 10 short weeks I would learn so much and it has been an experience that I will cherish forever.” 

At RSPB Arne in Dorset, Joe Stockwell carries out practical conservation work. “It’s a hugely varied role but you can’t beat it. You go home knackered but you have a real feeling of ‘I’ve done a great job today’.”

Rowan Cannel volunteers with the Aldi Schools Outreach Project to help children experience nature: “I will never tire of the excitement expressed by children when they realise how much nature is actually on their doorstep, and how easy it can be for them to help conserve it. Volunteering on this project has genuinely been one of the best decisions I have made.”

Making a difference

Paid staff are equally positive about the contribution made by volunteers. Nick Droy is Regional Reserves Manager and Innovation Lead for the Midlands and has recruited volunteers to help with specialist projects.

He recalls: “We recruited the ex-head of the Isle of Wight tourist board to review our visitor income generation plans at Sandwell Valley – harnessing professional skills and experience to make a huge, positive impact on our work.”

At RSPB Forsinard Flows, Warden Claire Foot runs our Friends and Family Volunteering Holidays scheme in which volunteers spend a week helping out. “Running the Friends and Family Volunteering Holidays has made a great impact for nature and benefited the reserve endlessly. Volunteers are so enthusiastic and just want to help,” Claire enthuses.

We recognise that people volunteer because they enjoy it and know they are making a difference, and so we try to ensure that we are able to provide opportunities that reflect an individual’s availability, interests and talents. Pleasingly it seems to be working. Our most recent survey of volunteers found that 88% would recommend volunteering with the RSPB to family and friends. And we can’t recommend our volunteers enough either!