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Volunteer policies

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Why you need a volunteer policy and links to resources to help you develop one.

What is a volunteering policy?

A volunteering policy is a framework for a volunteer programme. It helps define the role of volunteers within the organisation, and how they can expect to be treated.

Advantages of having a policy

It can help to:

  • demonstrate your organisation's commitment to its volunteer programme and its individual volunteers. By having such a document in place you are showing that care and thought have gone into the volunteer programme.
  • ensure consistency and that all volunteers are treated equally and fairly. Being able to refer to a written policy ensures that decisions do not have to be made on an ad hoc basis.
  • allow volunteers to know where they stand; it offers some security, in that they know how they can expect to be treated, and where they can turn to if they feel that things are going wrong.
  • it helps ensure that paid staff, senior management and trustees fully understand why volunteers are involved, and what role they have within the organisation.

If your organisation has not yet started to work with volunteers it is the ideal starting point to consider exactly how you will involve them in your work, as it encompasses everything from recruitment to supervision and dealing with any problems that may arise. You should consult as widely as possible with volunteers and staff at all levels of the organisation in developing your policy.

Things to cover in your policy

  • Recruitment of volunteers, including equality and diversity
  • Induction and training
  • Expenses
  • Supervision and support
  • Health and safety
  • Confidentiality and data protection
  • Problem solving and complaint procedures for volunteers.

Some organisations will have a short policy that refers to other documents for more details. For example a separate document might have more information on health and safety.

You should ensure that your policy reflects the size and nature of your organisation. It is important to have a proportionate level of formality so as not to put potential volunteers off volunteering for the organisation.

Once your policy is complete it should be communicated to staff and volunteers throughout the organisation. The policy should also be reviewed regularly, at least annually, to ensure it remains fit for purpose and current.

Page last edited Apr 28, 2017

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