Managing Volunteers

Volunteers are people who are unpaid and who give their time, energy and skills to benefit the community. Volunteers can be a great help in your organisation – they can contribute in many ways, working with the people who you support through your group, working along with employees and the local community.

It’s important to provide your volunteers with lots of support and treat them the same as paid staff.  They are not supposed to replace paid staff and even though they don’t’ have the same employment rights as staff, it’s important to treat all your volunteers fairly and in the same way over time.  This will help to make sure that they are happy to continue working in your group.

Here’s some tips to think about when recruiting new volunteers and managing volunteers in your group.

Recruiting new volunteers

You should:

  • Have a clear idea about what you would like the volunteer to do and the type of skills you need in the group.
  • Advertise as widely as possible to make sure that everyone in your community knows that you need volunteers. You could put up a poster in your premises, let people know who come to your premises or an event you are running, put something into the local newspaper, on your website, on social media or a local newspaper.
  • Check that your organisation’s liability insurance policy includes the activities of volunteers and liability towards them. Note: the organisation does not insure the volunteer’s personal possessions against loss or damage.
  • Ask a member of staff or volunteer if they would be willing to offer guidance and advice to help the new volunteer do what they need to do properly.

When a new volunteer starts

Here’s a list of tips to consider when the volunteer first joins your organisation:

You should:

  • It is important to provide a good induction to volunteers as the first step in their journey with your organisation.  Induction should be more than giving them a copy of the policies and procedures manual and introducing them to other volunteers and staff.
  • Outline the organisation’s values.
  • Introduce them to other staff, volunteers and to the management committee.
  • Show them around the premises.
  • Explain who they can go to if they have any questions or problems.
  • Show them where they will be sitting and where they can find any equipment they need.
  • Let them know about breaks.
  • Explain how to claim expenses and what can be claimed for and what can’t be claimed for. Volunteers should be able to claim reasonable expenses as long as there are receipts to show where and when the money was spent and for how much.
  • Explain your organisation’s policy on volunteers using telephones or accessing the internet for their own use.
  • Ask them to shadow other experienced volunteers or paid members of staff.
  • Make them aware of all of the organisation’s relevant policies, including those that are about volunteering, health & safety, safeguarding vulnerable groups and equal opportunities.
  • Advise the volunteer on your confidentiality policy and procedures, where relevant. This should include policies relating to personal information held by the organisation relating to the volunteer.

Supporting volunteers over time

You should:

  • Organise regular meetings between the volunteer and the person who is supervising them. This will help the volunteer and the person supervising them to talk about what the volunteer is doing, what’s going well, what’s not going well and why and any training that might be needed.
  • Agree with the volunteer when these meetings are going to happen, how often, where and for how long.
  • Use the meetings to show your appreciation of the work your volunteer is doing.
  • Provide ongoing training to support the work they are doing, and for their own personal development where possible.
Click here to download a template for a role description for a volunteer post.