Designing volunteer role descriptions

A volunteer role description defines what the volunteer’s purpose is and how they will fit into your organisation. It clarifies expectations and makes the process of recruitment and selection easier because the description can be used to determine a person’s suitability for the activity. It is a good idea to involve staff or senior volunteers who may be working with the volunteer when developing the role description. They will understand the ‘ins and outs’ of the role, the skills required and what training should be provided. Below are some important things to think about before you get started. Further help and templates available to download in this guide Designing-Volunteer-Role-Descriptions

The key things to consider are:

Role Title
Creating a catchy role title will help ‘sell’ your volunteer opportunity to potential volunteers.

Organisation & Role Overview
People are often attracted to volunteering as much for the aims and objectives of the organisation as the role itself. Provide a brief overview of your organisation and its purpose. Include a short piece on the volunteer role and how it will contribute to the organisation’s work.

Clearly and specifically outline the tasks the volunteer will undertake. This way, both you and the volunteer know exactly what is expected.

Time Commitment
Outline the hours the volunteer is needed Stating the time commitment allows potential volunteers to quickly scan through the role description and immediately screen themselves out if they are not available.

State the place where the volunteer will be working i.e. virtually, at your office or an off-site location. This information informs the potential volunteer of additional travel and time commitments they may need to consider.

Skills, Experience & Qualities
In order to help select the right volunteers, it is necessary to outline the skills, experience and qualities desirable for the role.

Training & Induction
All volunteers should be offered an induction on their first day, regardless of the role they are undertaking. Further training may include in-depth information about the organisation or role-specific training.

Support & Supervision
Just like paid employees, volunteers need regular support and supervision..

Individuals usually have their own reasons for volunteering like a belief in your mission, the desire to give something back to their community, to gain work experience etc. It is important to identify the specific benefits of each volunteer role.

It is also helpful to outline basic expectations you have of volunteers such as confidentiality, professionalism, respect etc. These can be further developed in the Code of Conduct for volunteers and the organisation’s volunteer policy and procedures.