Developing a Volunteer Policy

Developing a volurteer policy for your organisation

A step by step guide

Congratulations! You have decided to recruit volunteers for your organisation. There is no doubt that you are about to benefit from a cost effective human resource, but your organisation is also going to benefit in other ways too:

• Volunteers are a true reflection of community spirit

• Volunteers extend an organisation's network

• Volunteers increase the diversity of an organisation

So, what happens after you recruit your volunteers? Have you thought of the issues that might arise through the involvement of volunteers in your project? Are you and your organisation ready for volunteers?

Step one - why involve volunteers?

Before recruiting any volunteers, your organisation needs to be prepared. It needs to know why it wants to involve volunteers in its work, how volunteer positions fit into the organisation and it must be ready to receive willing volunteers when contacted.

By having your organisation prepared you are preparing a positive experience for your volunteers, and ensuring that the right people will be assigned to the right opportunity.

"Always remember, happy volunteers tell people about their experiences, as do unhappy volunteers ... "

Every organisation should have a volunteer policy in place and this step-by-step guide is designed to help you through the stages of putting such a policy together. Obviously, this is a guide and will not necessarily apply to every organisation or to every volunteer, but your local volunteer centre will be happy to assist groups on an individual basis with specific issues. A formal policy gives clear guidelines for decision-making and instruction on how to carry through or act on decisions

made. It also assists in the management of potential risks that might occur involving volunteers, such as accidents and abuse. It ensures that things run smoothly and that volunteers are properly recruited and well managed, and it serves as an aid to effectiveness, which allows the organisation to get the most out of its volunteers.

The first step in designing a volunteer policy is to decide why the organisation wishes to involve volunteers. This decision will:

Determine the types of roles and responsibilities that the organisation will create for volunteers;

Enable the organisation to better explain to volunteers how and why they are contributing to the work of the organisation;

Enable the organisation to better explain to staff why volunteers are being sought;

Enable the organisation to develop a plan for evaluating how effective their use of volunteers has been.