Recruitment Support: Managing your waiting lists

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Do you have a waiting list? Could you contact your waiting list to get the support you need?

We want to welcome as many young members as possible to Scouting but we need more adult volunteers to enable this.

The waiting lists could be a source of new leaders so why not consider one of our practical ideas for tackling the waiting list to welcome new adult members (note the aim of this activity is
not to invite more young people to add to your ever-growing waiting list).   

Many parents tell us they would love to help if they were asked. So, let’s keep asking! 


  1. 1. Take control of your waiting list – who is your waiting list lead? Ensure you have a regular communication process in place including one email account, one spreadsheet etc as it can easily get out of control if it is not centralised. Take this chance to check who is really waiting by emailing them to ask them and advise wait times. As you know, we have the benefit of running one list for all sections, which helps with planning. Use this as a chance to clean your waiting list and invite them to take part in one of the ideas below as an adult volunteer. You may also, in general, like to consider setting out some rules to help you manage the list if your sections are full – eg youngest anyone can join (to prevent filling up the list). Consider closing the list for a short period (perhaps over the summer) to create some time to manage those already on the list and plan in terms of recruitment.

  2. 2. Does your Group have a welcome pack? If not please reach out to Kirstie, your Scouting Support Officer, for a template which can be updated and used in a matter of minutes. When a parent puts their son/daughter down for Scouts for the first time it can be like jumping into the unknown for someone who has never been involved before. As a recruitment exercise, consider sending a welcome pack to all existing young members’ parents/carers and the waiting list. This gives you the chance to promote the volunteer gaps/opportunities at the very start of your relationship with parents/carers and sets the scene as to how you operate as a Group and how you will involve them moving forward to enable/ensure more volunteers get involved.

  3. 3. Be flexible and consider all your options –
    consider inviting a parent or carer to take part by joining a parent rota, support existing Section Assistants to alternate at meetings or look at seeking help from your local Scout Active Support Unit. Or invite them to your next camp as a taster session – young person and adult for an hour (as an adult recruitment exercise) at the start>

What about your Executive gaps? Could the parents/carers support your Group/District as an Exec member, Treasurer, Chair or Secretary for instance? Or have you considered launching a Squirrel Drey for instance which could be communicated? Or speak to your District Team about volunteer vacancies to promote/engage?

Share waiting list information – share it with another nearby Group in case they have the capacity for young people and thus use it as a recruitment tool for new adult members.

Run a taster session for the waiting list – this can be a one-off for potential new young people but primarily to inspire adults to get involved. Look at the gaps in the roles you have from social media manager to catering lead, from waiting list management to activity researcher, from photographer to trainer and so on. You could also invite them along to an AGM or larger Group event to find out more, meet the team and even take part.

Take the chance to ask those on the waiting list what their skills, interests and experiences are – use this ‘talent pool’ as part of your programme delivery team/development to involve them adhoc week to week and look at ways of inviting them to come back to volunteer again, and then again.

When contacting the waiting list ask them to introduce a friend to adult volunteering with Scouting. You never know! Or, if you can, why not offer an immediate space in your Group for a young person if they have an adult who can volunteer? It’s a win/win; they get to jump the queue and you get an extra pair of hands! This is entirely at the discretion of each Group as this is not suitable for every location.

Share news – news about what you are doing, who the team are, the fun being enjoyed by young people and adults, and things coming up to excite new adult volunteers to enquire about joining. Kirstie, your Scouting Support Officer has a wealth of ways to do this from communicating the benefits of adult volunteering, adult volunteer stories making volunteering roles relatable and even to fun Scouting videos.

Job share opportunities – position volunteering as a job share opportunity to parents/carers on the waiting list ie two friends/colleagues taking on one role as a shared opportunity. If one person can’t 

In summary: 

  • – Underpinning all of this is the message that no prior Scouting experience is needed – just come along and see what we’re all about! Everyone is welcome. And if you don’t think you have the right skills – any skills are useful, and you’ll quickly gain new ones! 
  • – Any amount of time or any skill can be used somehow – let’s find an opportunity to match with what the volunteer shows interest in.  
  • – Consider regular communication – emails or messages – to your waiting list to nurture them and position them as would-be volunteers.  
  • – Position some of the ideas outlined above as ways to excite and inspire new members to try or join. 
  • – Let them know they’re still in the system and they’ll be contacted when a space becomes available – with a volunteer recruitment message each time of course about how they can get involved. 
  • – And please ensure you adhere to GDPR rules. 

  • For more on waiting list management please visit the Scouts UK website. 

Got a question?

Email – Kirstie Armsworth, Scouting Support Officer

Updated – February 2023