Recruit skilled volunteers and survive recession, says Jon Snow

Broadcaster says professional skills will guide charities through the downturn

Recruiting volunteers for their professional expertise will help charities to survive the recession, according to Jon Snow, presenter of Channel Four News and deputy chair of communications charity the Media Trust.

Snow, who is also a trustee of the Noel Buxton Trust and aid organisation Médecins du Monde UK and a former trustee of the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery, was giving the Charity Trustee Networks annual lecture in London yesterday.

He said people in his newsroom would not be receptive to charity appeals for volunteers to hand out soup, but would be willing to lend help with web design and communications. He spoke of an architect who had organised a competition to design new premises for the New Horizon Youth Centre in London, which Snow has chaired since 1986.

"He didn't know he was a volunteer, but he comes in for about four minutes once a fortnight and it is like gold dust to us," he said. "He wouldn't want to talk to a young woman about how to get her off the game, but he is passionate about making buildings fit for purpose. Most people don't want to volunteer for charities because they think they would only look after old or unemployed people."

Snow said that once professional volunteers learned more about charity projects their involvement could expand.

He also urged charities to invest in their websites as a way of attracting volunteers, particularly those who had become unemployed during the recession. "This is the glory of the web," he said. "We have to be in the marketplace so that people notice us and want to be part of it."

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