Creating roles for Volunteers

To create and maintain a successful volunteer programme, the benefits need to be two-way. The roles that the volunteers undertake should assist the organisation to meet its aims, while at the same time being of benefit to the volunteer.

It is therefore vital to keep this in mind when designing new roles. For roles to be meaningful, it should be possible to describe how they contribute to the organisation's overall aim.

Who should be involved in the process? 

Everyone in the organisation should be aware of when you are intending to introduce volunteering or when you are creating new roles.

  • Staff should be consulted, particularly when the involvement of the volunteer/s will affect their workload
  • Existing volunteers may have valuable insights and it is always helpful to look at roles from a volunteer's perspective 
  • Service users/clients may have ideas about how services could be enhanced or developed with the help of volunteers
  • Be aware that all three groups could feel threatened by the introduction of new roles and may need reassurance - for example, that volunteers will not be used as a substitute for paid staff or that the quality of a service will not be reduced because it is delivered by volunteers
  • Trustees, although volunteers themselves, will need to ensure through their governance role that any organisational policies are consistent with involving volunteers

Some points to consider

  • Are you able to attract a broad range of people, by having opportunities that include those that can be done by any willing helper and those that are more specialised and require particular expertise?
  • Is there flexibility around when the role/s can be carried out, to fit in with the availability of volunteers?
  • Is the role of benefit to the volunteer? How interesting/challenging is it? What will they gain through it?
  • Are you able to involve volunteers who may have additional needs? What support is available? What form could this take?
  • Do you have the resources available to support the role/s - supervision time, physical resources (desk, PC etc)?
  • Does the nature of the role require taking up references and/or DBS checks?