Everything ElseRecruitment

Introduction to the u3a recruitment toolkit

u3as have been sharing ideas with each other and coming up with resources to help the movement retain and recruit members during this time and beyond. This new series hosts a resources toolkit for u3a members to use when needed.  There will be more resources going up over the coming weeks. When all the resources are up, we will provide an index.


This toolkit is intended for use by your committee and any sub-committee or team that you set up to recruit new members. The purpose of the toolkit is to provide your u3a with some tools to assist you in your efforts to recruit new members.

There are three broad categories of tool:

1. Preparing to recruit
2. Recruiting and promoting
3. Support processes

The list of tools and its intended audience is set out in the Contents section below.


This toolkit is our first draft. We have developed the tools to support u3as in the first phase of the u3a recruitment campaign – pathfinder u3as. Your experiences of using the guide are of vital importance. Each tool has a lead person who will receive your feedback and lead the development of the improved version 2.0 of the tool.

The toolkit itself is also being piloted. In terms of the toolkit overall, we will be asking for suggestions for tools which could be developed and added to the toolkit and, for that matter, whether any tools should be amalgamated with others or withdrawn. This is Version 1.2 of the Toolkit. We hope that with your help, we can extend the Toolkit. If you find yourselves saying ‘If only we had a recruitment tool which would help us do xxxx’, please email pkmartinez14@gmail.com. We can’t promise to do everything but we’ll do our best.

The Toolkit is quite large. You won’t necessarily find that every tool is useful to your u3a. That’s fine. At the risk of stating the obvious, you don’t have to use every tool. We hope you will use and give us feedback on the tools which are most relevant to your own recruitment project.

Is this the right time for a recruitment campaign?

We think that in general this is THE right time. Not only are a large number of people going to be retiring from work in the normal way, but they are unfortunately being joined by a large number of people aged 55+ who are losing their full time job, because of Covid19. At the same time, many of the opportunities for retired people – many sorts of voluntary activity for example – are not available. In addition, we need to equip ourselves for a world where many of the 55+ age group will be looking to the internet for inspiration. Finally, social distancing and periodic lockdowns are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future, so let’s get on with it now.


Our u3a movement is suffering from two sorts of recruitment problem. There is a long term slowdown in the growth in membership of the movement and the proportion of newly retired people joining the u3a is in decline. This may in part be associated with an over reliance on word- of-mouth as a means of attracting new members. These long term trends are being exacerbated by Covid19.

The Third Age Trust has created a Recruitment Working Group which reports to both the u3a Development Committee and the u3a Communications and External Affairs Committee (CEAC).

Representatives from thirteen u3as comprise the Working Group and have developed this first version. Three members of the Working Group are also Regional Trustees and several others also members of Regional Support Teams. We are supported by two national u3a officers. Suffice to say that without the hard work of all involved we would not have a recruitment toolkit and without your help, we would not be able to develop it into a form that can support and be used by all u3as.

See the rest of the Recruitment Resources tag for more of the series.