Writing a Volunteer policy

Why have a Volunteer Policy?

A Volunteer Policy will give an overall framework for volunteer involvement in your organisation.  It will refer to any other policies that include volunteers, bringing it all together in one document.

Having a policy demonstrates -

  • Commitment - shows the care and thought that have gone into involving volunteers
  • Consistency - ensures that decisions are consistent and not made on an ad hoc basis and that all volunteers are treated equally and fairly
  • Clarity - allows volunteers to know where they stand, how they can expect to be treated and where to turn to if they feel things are going wrong
  • Unity - helps ensure that paid staff and trustees fully understand why volunteers are involved and what role they play in the organisation

Developing a Volunteer Policy

  • Ask the question- "why does our organisation involve volunteers"?  This will start any discussions and give you an opening statement for the policy
  • Refer to the list of what areas to cover. Use the questions to prompt a short statement under each heading
  • It may be helpful to look at other people's policies to get an idea of the style, language and complexity that would suit your organisation
  • Although it is possible to obtain template policies they should be used with caution.  Nothing can replace the value of working through the process and ensuring that the policy is right for you
  • Involve representatives from staff, volunteers and trustees.  Consider setting up a working group
  • Once a draft is written consult widely within the organisation to get different peoples views

What should a Volunteer Policy cover?

The following areas will form the basis of your policy.  The questions are included as a guide to help you think about what to include in each section

Introduction

Why do we involve volunteers in our work?
What values or principles is this based on?

Recruitment

How and where will we advertise opportunities?
What recruitment methods will we use (application forms, interviews etc)?
What will we do if someone is unsuitable for the role?
How and when will references be taken up?
What roles if any will require CRB checks?

Induction and training

How are volunteers welcomed into the organisation?
What information are they given?
What training if any is essential to the role?
What opportunities to develop skills will volunteers have?

Expenses

What expenses will be covered?

Support and supervision

What support and/or supervision is available?
How frequently will it take place?

Insurance

What is the level of cover?
Are there any boundaries (age, location etc)

Equal Opportunities

Are volunteers covered by your organisations equal opportunities policy?
What does this mean for volunteers?

Health and Safety

How are you exercising your legal Duty of Care to volunteers?
How is information regarding Health and Safety communicated to volunteers?

Problem Solving

What processes are available to enable volunteers to raise issues they are concerned about?
How are any problems with the work of volunteers addressed?

Confidentiality

What is required of volunteers?
How are volunteers protected?