A Volunteer Policy gives the organisation a consistent way to approach the involvement of volunteers across the whole organisation. It helps to ensure that everyone involved in the organisation including Board Members, funders, staff and volunteers understand and value volunteers’ involvement.
Ideally the Volunteer Policy should be developed in consultation with staff and volunteers and be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it continues to be fit for purpose.
A short, user friendly volunteering policy which refers to associated policies e.g. health and safety diversity is ideal, as to have every policy and procedure along with the associated guidance included in the overall policy will make the document very difficult to use.
The policy should be made available to everyone and form part of the recruitment of volunteers. You may want to post it on your website for potential volunteers to look at prior to joining the organisation.
A policy also demonstrates that the organisation is serious and professional about the involvement of volunteers, and that their involvement is planned as part of the whole organisation’s activities rather than as an ad hoc activity that sits alongside the main organisation.
Before writing a policy, it is important to identify why you want volunteers involved in your organisation: is it because they can enhance the services offered by paid staff because of their local knowledge, or specialist skills?
It is helpful to involve staff in this part of the process so that the involvement of volunteers is transparent and no one feels threatened. Once the views of staff have been taken on what tasks volunteers could undertake you will have a baseline that a small group of staff can develop. If you are reviewing your policy, or have not had a policy in place despite having volunteers, then the group should involve volunteers. Where volunteers are going to be new to the organisation, you could involve service users to identify where they felt there were areas that volunteers could support or members of the community with whom you are planning to work to ask them. Perhaps, the involvement of service users and/or a community could be the first step in recruiting your volunteers as you will be able to test your ideas for volunteer involvement with them and see what their views are on volunteer involvement.
The group should agree a draft policy statement and circulate for discussion with Management Committee or Board of Directors, paid staff, volunteers, members/clients and unions and once accepted, put in place.
Someone should be assigned responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the policy so that any issues highlighted are recorded. Any associated policies and procedures that need to be put in place, should also be rolled out across the organisation.
A year after its implementation, the policy should be reviewed to see if any revisions need to be made based on feedback. The policy should also be reviewed when relevant legislative changes are made which have an impact.
Please click on the link for a Volunteer Policy Template