Getting your organisation in a good position to work with volunteers

Careful planning is the key to building a good foundation for involving volunteers. Consider
the following:

  • Is everyone in the organisation aware of plans to involve volunteers?
  • How will different people be affected – staff, trustees, service users, other volunteers?
  • Do we have the human resources to adequately support volunteers?
  • Are the people who will support volunteers suitably skilled and trained?
  • Have we budgeted the costs of involving volunteers such as payment of out of pocket expenses, training, staff costs for supervision, admin costs for CRB checks if required?
  • Are we able to provide roles that are rewarding for volunteers and meet the needs of the organisation?
  • Do we have the necessary space and resources (such as a spare desk or computer)?
  • Volunteers bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm and experience – are we ready for this?
  • Have we considered any risks associated with involving volunteers? (this includes risks to the volunteers and to the organisation)
  • Is our insurance cover adequate?
  • What policies and procedures do we already have that should be reviewed in the light of involving volunteers?
  • Do we need any new policies and/or procedures such as a Volunteer Policy?

When is it not appropriate to involve volunteers?

  • When answers to the questions above have raised issues for the organisation that cannot be resolved
  • To replace a paid member of staff
  • When volunteers will be delivering a service that is usually paid for and the recipients could clearly pay
  • When the work is intended to make a profit

Some useful information/guidance

Diversity and volunteering

Removing the barriers to volunteering

External factors

Creating roles for volunteers

Involving service users

Developing policies and procedures

Writing a Volunteer Policy

Health & Safety for volunteers

Payment of expenses

Volunteer agreements

Sample expenses claim form

Sample role description - admin volunteer

Sample role description - playworker volunteer

Seeing the organisation from a volunteer's perspective