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Writing a Volunteer Policy

A volunteer policy provides a firm foundation on which to involve volunteers within your organisation. It brings consistency and purpose to how volunteers will help you achieve your objectives. It will help you involve a diverse range of volunteers, because it defines the roles of volunteers clearly.

There are real benefits in having a policy:

brightness_1 It clarifies the rationale for involving volunteers

brightness_1 It demonstrates your commitment to involving volunteers and shows care and thought have gone into developing a volunteering programme.

brightness_1 It ensures that any decisions about volunteering are not made on an ad hoc basis and that all volunteers are treated equally and fairly.

brightness_1 It enables volunteers to know where they stand, how they can expect to be treated and where to turn if they are unhappy.

brightness_1 Paid staff, senior management and trustees all fully understand why volunteers are involved and what role they play within the organisation.

If your organisation is not yet working with volunteers, drawing up a volunteer policy is the ideal starting point for deciding exactly how you will involve volunteers in your activities.

There is no set format for a volunteer policy. Each organisation has unique needs that will need to be reflected and addressed. The final document should be as short as possible. Below is a guide to the headings you should address:

brightness_1 Introduction: what your organisation does, its main goals and ethos. Why it is involving volunteers. How do volunteers help the organisation achieve its purpose?

brightness_1 Recruitment: what process you use. Whether you use application forms or not, hold an informal chat or a more formal interview, how references are handled, whether you do police checks, etc.

brightness_1 Induction and Training: what the volunteer can expect.

brightness_1 Expenses: what is covered and how expenses will be reimbursed.

brightness_1 Supervision and Support: clarity on who will provide this and how.

brightness_1 Insurance: clear evidence that volunteers are covered.

brightness_1 Equal Opportunities and Diversity: outline the organisation’s commitment and how this is put into practice.

brightness_1 Health and Safety: basic information and reference to the organisation’s Health & Safety policy (and any other relevant policies).

brightness_1 Problem solving or Complaints Procedures: clear procedures are in place.

brightness_1 Confidentiality Statement.

Once the policy is completed the main thing is to ensure that it doesn’t just lie on a shelf! All staff and volunteers should be given a copy and encouraged to discuss it. You might put a copy on display. The policy should be reviewed annually and staff and volunteers involved to make sure it is up-to-date and a guide for your practice.